Education sector on course to achieve EDPRSII targets

The education sector has registered considerable progress, mileage and is on course to achieve targets outlined in the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRSII).
Students attend class at IFAK School in Kigali earlier this year. (File)
Students attend class at IFAK School in Kigali earlier this year. (File)

The education sector has registered considerable progress, mileage and is on course to achieve targets outlined in the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRSII).

This is according to a joint review of the education sector report presented to the sector working group and stakeholders during a one day meeting in Kigali yesterday.

Solange Mukayiranga, the director-general for education planning at the Ministry of Education, said going by the indicators that fall under productivity and youth empowerment and foundational and cross cutting issues significant progress has been registered.

Under productivity and youth employment that has a corresponding outcome of availability of critical skills for service and industrial sectors, Mukayiranga said the majority of employers were satisfied with university graduates qualifications.

The assertion contrasts the perception that most graduates hardly meet the needs of the labour market, with a survey around the five East African Community partner states, released last week, showing that as many as half the region’s university graduates were not fit for the labour market.

In Rwanda, the EAC Inter-University Council report indicated that 80 per cent of higher education providers believed graduates were fit for the job market, but 48 per cent of employers agreed with the assertion.

The ministry’s latest figures are likely to ignite debate about the quality of education in the country, with employers increasingly pointing an accusing finger at training institutions for reportedly churning out half-baked products.

“In 2012, the baseline was 75.1 per cent, currently 80.2 per cent of employers are content with the graduates’ competence, with the target being 85 per cent,” Mukayiranga told the stakeholders who included senior officials in the Education ministry led by Minister Prof. Silas Lwakabamba

She said the policy actions that had led to this development were review and validation of the national qualification framework for higher education.

The ongoing establishment of a new loan scheme was cited as a factor that would significantly contribute to further progress to achieve the targets.

With a feasibility study already in place, the scheme is currently under the process of being established with negotiations  going on between the ministry’s officials and  investors that acquired the  financial institution (Development Bank of Rwanda) to work on the scheme.

More teachers in place

Mukayiranga added that the student-teacher ratios at both primary and secondary schools, which was the other indicator,  had also registered positive progress.

The ratios currently stand at 32:1 for secondary schools and 63:1 for primary schools.

 She noted that policy actions to boost the progress that included developing a regionally harmonised school curriculum and train teachers in it would further put the sector in line with EDPRSII goals.

Emmanuel Mico, the director-general in charge of planning at the Education ministry, said the budget allocation to the ministry had increased in the last fiscal year from 13 per cent to 14 per cent of total government expenditure.

The ministry was allocated Rwf234.9 billion in the last financial year.

Sharon Haba, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education, said recommendations made to the ministry in the last joint sector review earlier in the year by development partners had or were in the process of adoption.

Among the recommendations were a new tracking system which had been recommended  for students with an aim to keep track of absenteeism, repetition and dropout rates had already been designed and developed with the help of the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda and was currently being tested for  use beginning next year.

The PS added that Non-governmental organisations and community led efforts had played a big role towards the retention of students in schools and curbing dropout rates.

Haba said the ministry will continue to strengthen and work closely with the parent teacher associations to further curb dropout rates.

Among the ministry’s broad priority areas in the 2015/2016 financial year include developing a new curriculum with a regional outlook and strengthening parent teacher associations to address dropout rates.

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