For the last ten years the Rwanda public service and school curricula have undergone several reforms. Reforms in both sectors are usually prompted by prevailing conditions but invariably aimed at progress.
Public service reforms are usually aimed at institutional development with a view to improving public service management.
The public service the world over, is contentious because of its central role in governance, but paradoxically public servants are rarely well remunerated.
Education Minister Dr. Charles Muligande, an academician who once was served as the Rector of the National University of Rwanda, recently said that university professors will never earn as much as the CEO of Electrogaz, MTN and corporate entities.
This of course is true but the analogy was absurd because
I doubt whether cabinet ministers earn as much as CEO of major corporations.
If the minister did not want to shock his interlocutors into submission, he should have compared the university rectors with CEOs and professors to ordinary mortal (Engineers, accountant etc) in those money making organizations.
President Obama, not amused by the obscenely huge bonuses bank executives awarded themselves, recently made a practical point by initiating some form of taxes to the big banks in USA which had benefited from the tax payers money during the bad days of economic recess.
Back to our main point, the Rwanda Public Service, has witnessed six public service reforms since 1995. The Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Public service on 16th January announced that plans were under way to synchronize all the previous reforms.
This is commendable because each of the said reforms seems to have addressed a section of the service thus causing anxiety among the remaining sections.
How do you explain having a post of a permanent secretary without corresponding posts of under secretaries and assistant secretaries, as is the case in other East African countries?
In our current public service structures the next position below the Permanent secretary is the director whose remuneration is less than a third of his boss.
It is hard to imagine an argument to justify the disparity in renumeration.Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania public service structures provide for a career development path where young professionals join the service and rise through ranks.
The structure has job groups through which one rises to attain the highest level according to his capacity over time. Adopting the East African model might reduce cases of incompetencies that have ruined careers of many young professionals.
The model provides for annual salary increments which take care of enhanced remuneration for experienced employees.
The argument that employees who perform the same task or job should earn the same salary no matter their experiences misses the point. Seniority should be rewarded systematically.
Experience is knowledge. Besides improved remuneration is a sure way of retaining staff in the institutions to ensure continuity which is an important factor in institutional performance.
Furthermore integration in the East African community will inevitably lead to labour mobility hence the need to synchronize public service in member countries.
In the same vein, the educational programmes could be an effective tool for regional integration, if the curricula are synchronized.
Whereas the East African students associations in various fora have called for synchronized academic programmes, I consider school programmes more crucial and urgent in the process of regional integration.
Going by the Nigerian curriculum expert, Uda Onwuka’s contention that “ the purpose of education is to produce men and women who can actively participate in the affairs of society and also contribute to its development”, our curriculum developers should consider a curriculum which that takes into account national and regional aspirations.
Given that the curriculum is a total experience with which the school deals in educating young people and a deliberate, systematic and planned attempts made by the school to change the behaviour of members of society, care must be taken not to exclude subjects which mold the learners’ character.
The recent attempt to exclude subjects like Religious studies from our curriculumin in favour of functional ones like Science, Geography etc. Informed sources assert that the teaching of morals and ethics are essential in molding good citizens.
Religious studies being one of the disciplines that inculcate positive values should not be sidelined in our national basic education curriculum.
Similarly Sports, Art and Music should be developed through curriculum, so that a child who relocates to another East African country competes favourably with his counterparts in the educational field.
We are not, however, suggesting a cut and copy of other national curriculum. We need a curriculum which is uniquely Rwanda but at the same times addresses regional concerns.