KIGALI - The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) is considering the option of introducing compulsory National Service for teachers, health workers and other professionals, as a tool of checking on the existing of people shying away from their professions.
This was revealed by the Minister of Education Dr. Charles Murigande yesterday during a workshop to discuss an audit report on the national skills gap.
The report was released last year by a team of experts who said that there was still a significant skills gap that needed to be bridged if the country is to achieve its development aspirations.
According to Murigande, professionals tend to turn to highly-paying jobs after graduating, forgetting their obligations to the nation, and leave gaps in their fields.
“We want to formulate a policy where professionals like teachers, health workers and others who fall under that category, will not be able to get jobs outside their professions for a certain period of time,” he said.
The tendency of shying away from professions has crippled the education sector on a large scale, leaving it with less trained teachers.
The skills gap audit shows that 59 percent (31,070) of the teachers at the secondary and primary level hold A2 (A’ level) certificates.
Fourteen percent hold A3 (O-Level) certificates and mainly teach in primary and pre-primary.
This, according to experts, is a significant challenge that needs to be addressed because basic education needs to have a firm foundation that can only be laid by well-trained teachers.
“We have tried to show them the importance of working in their professions, but it seems not to work. So we are going to put in place this measure,” said the Minister adding that the method has been used in other countries like Egypt.
On the issue that meagre salaries could be the reason behind the switch of professions, the minister dismissed the excuse.
“If the government does not have enough money to pay them a comfortable salary, it does not mean that they have to abandon what they were trained for, since most of them even study on government funds and the government trains them with a purpose.”
He added that all teachers will be given a 10 percent salary raise beginning this year.
The skills gap audit report also shows that the deficit of lecturers in higher institutions stands at 62 percent and that less than 25 percent of the academic staff are PhD holders while about 36 percent have Masters Degrees.