October 5th the world commemorates the International Teachers’ Day. The occasion is meant to raise awareness on the plight of teachers, while recognising their contributions in shaping the future of generations the world over.
At the same time, the day is aimed at mobilising support for teachers and to ensure that the educational needs of future generations will continue to be met.
In Rwanda, the day was celebrated with a public holiday and a national event graced by top government dignitaries.
This day coincides with the time Rwanda is undertaking significant structural changes within her education sector. Within these changes, the teacher’s role is critical.
Today, the government is busy finalising plans for the launch of the 9 year basic education calendar to kick off next year. Though initiated for the good of our education sector, its successful introduction will be a challenge.
The first stakeholders that government can bank on for support are our teachers.
Their commitment in ensuring that implementation of the 9 year basic education is successful, needs no further emphasis.
Equally, the national teachers’ day is marked at a time of an on-going debate on improving the quality of education in our country.
As the nation seeks to turn into a knowledge based economy at least by 2020, the issue of quality within this sector forms the bedrock of this debate.
Again much of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of our esteemed teachers and a call for change of mindset and adoption of a collective forward looking vision is important if we are to drive home this vision.
Part of the debate during this day rotates around teachers’ welfare. Despite this being a genuine concern, we also need to acknowledge the innovative approach with which government is trying to address this problem.
One such unique approach is the “Umwalimu SACCO,’ a teachers’ cooperative and credit scheme.
This scheme is not only intended to promote the culture of saving, but also to finance teachers’ needs through soft lines of credit.
Therefore, as government strives to improve the teachers’ well-being, the challenge for the teaching profession is to leave up to the expectations if Rwanda is to achieve its ambitious growth vision.