The six education goals set out at a global education forum in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2000, are within reach in Rwanda, education officials say.
The global forum held under the theme “Education For All” (EFA), set out six goals aimed at addressing the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.
They included expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, ensuring that all children, particularly girls, have access to free and compulsory quality primary education and ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes.
The others were achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy, eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education and provision of quality education.
Rwanda decided to add the 7th goal – it’s own – after careful consideration which is mitigating the impact of HIV/Aids in schools.
Last week, education stakeholders met in Kigali to assess the implementation rate, less than a year ahead of the deadline.
Emmanuel Muvunyi, the national co-coordinator of Education for All (EFA) project, said various measures have been put in place to achieve the goals like the nine and 12 year Basic Education Programmes which have a combined access rate of 96 per cent by all children so far.
Jacques Habimana, the in charge of primary education at the Ministry of Education, said a three-year pre-primary education programme targeting children between four and six years of age has since been introduced, and that 1,870 pre-primary schools, both government and private, have so far been established.
He added that two institutions already offer Bachelors degree programmes in pre-primary education, one being the University of Rwanda’s College of Education and Indangaburezi College of Education in Ruhango District.
“About 13 teacher training colleges (TTC’s) also offer certificates and diplomas in the same field.”
Habimana said a curriculum and tailored textbooks on pre-primary education are being introduced by the ministry.
“The biggest challenge we face is that of some community-run (owned by parents) pre-primary schools delaying or failing to pay the teachers, in the end affecting the quality of education delivered,” he noted.
Solange Mukayiranga, the in charge of upper secondary at the ministry, said the government was committed to increasing the number of primary schools in the country. She said the number of primary schools increased by 24 per cent from 2093 in 2000 to 2,594 in 2012 .
She added that total primary school enrolment increased by 68 per cent from 1.4 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2013, attributing the increase to the scrapping of school fees in 2003.
Mukayiranga observed that the ratio of girls to boys in school has since improved. She noted that in 2000, the ratio of boys to girls was 50.4 to 49.6 per cent, and in 2012 it shifted to 49.3 per cent (boys) and 50.7 per cent (girls).
As regards to technical and vocational education and training, Irenee Nsengiyumva, the deputy director general in charge of training at the Work Force Development Authority (WDA) said 308 institutions have been put in place to provide technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes.
He said a budget of about Rwf55 billion is allocated to such programmes annually by government, with funding increasing about five times in the last four years.
Nsengiyumva said enrollment in such schools has increased over the years, from about 60,000 in 2011 to over 80,000 currently.
He attributed the increase to a massive awareness campaign launched by WDA in 2012, encouraging people to undertake such hands-on courses.
“In the 2013/2014 fiscal year, about 306 TVET trainers were given refresher courses,” he said.
Nsengiyunva pointed out that a new curriculum is being developed which will see a shift from the knowledge-based type of training to the competence one.
“We invited employers when designing the curriculum, especially the private sector, to have their input, since they have a better understanding of the demands of the labour market.”
He noted that WDA has since devised new programmes, adding a new mining school will be starting soon in Rulindo.
A music school has already been started in Rubavu District, Western Province.
Esperance Muziganyi, the in charge of adult education in the ministry, said over 4,000 adult education centres have since been established and that every cell has at least one, with over 5,000 volunteer tutors countrywide.
Rosine Bigirimana, the HIV/Aids project manager at the ministry, said 239 teachers at primary, secondary, and vocational/technical school level were trained in Huye District in 2013, and 267 in 2014 in Nyamagabe District in line with HIV/Aids prevention and fight in schools.