Government has rolled out a programme to have a nursery classroom built at a primary school in each of the country’s 416 sectors, a move that is expected to help improve access to nursery education, a top government official has said.
Olivier Rwamukwaya, the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, was speaking yesterday during a consultative meeting with senators in the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions.
Access to nursery education in the country remains a challenge, with only 13 per cent of three-year-olds in pre-primary education countrywide.
Rwamukwaya said many parents, especially in rural areas, are yet to understand the importance of taking toddlers to nursery schools.
They claim kindergarten is for the wealthy families and wait for their children to attain the age of six and enrol them directly into primary school.
But this mentality is gradually changing, with the government targeting to have as many nursery schools in the country as possible, with each cell having at least one kindergarten by 2017, he said.
“We hope the target will be achieved by 2017,” Rwamukwaya told the senators.
The official said building nursery schools across the country will be achieved because officials at all government levels, including districts, have pledged to put it in their performance contracts.
“There is commitment at all levels and building these schools is in every district’s performance contract,” he said.
The government has also embarked on massive training of kindergarten teachers and the preparation of a common kindergarten curriculum across the country is underway and would be available next year, according to the minister.
Senators, who had invited the minister to talk about the government’s programme of universal access to basic education, were also concerned with the limited access to nursery education.
They urged the government to fast-track programmes to increase access to nursery schools, especially in rural areas.
“Lack of access to kindergarten is a major problem because early age education is crucial. There are many children in rural areas who should be going to nursery schools but they aren’t,” said Senator Emmanuel Bajyana.
Citing training of teachers and the preparation of a common curriculum, Senator Narcisse Musabeyezu commended government’s efforts to promote nursery education.
“The government needs to ensure that the target to have a nursery school in every cell by 2017 is achieved,” Musabeyezu said.
Rwamukwaya said that 13 per cent of three-year-olds go to kindergarten nowadays up from a paltry one per cent in 2000.
“There has been significant improvement since 2000,” he said.