Quality education was one of the key topics in the just-concluded Umushyikirano. In his speech, President Paul Kagame called “for a revolution in Rwanda’s education system so as to nurture highly qualified human capital that can lead the way for the country’s economic transformation.”
He [Kagame] stressed that education must take a centre stage in view of the desire for Rwanda to become a knowledge-based economy with highly qualified human capital, addressing the education’s quality gaps should be the nation’s top priority.
And the revolution for the quality education must be done at all levels and must be among the nation’s highest priorities.
In truth, the issue of education quality has been discussed several times, but it seems to be quite an uphill task to point at where the problem lies. Over the years, we have seen some changes in education sector, as well as those at its helm, but short of meeting societal demands.
The President’s message was a wake-up call to relevant authorities to take robust action for a major overhaul of education system. If graduates don’t meet available market demands then there’s a serious challenge which needs concerted efforts by all education stakeholders.
For instance, at university level, where most seriously the problem arises, in recent days, we witnessed a number of higher learning institutions being suspended, in others, some programmes were closed and in all cases there was a lack of meeting requirements that would ensure quality education.
To many people, a question is: why were they given license or certification if they didn’t meet the requirements in the first place? The problem was to grant them license to operate when they’re not fully-fledged.
Who should, then, shoulder the blame? Obviously, there’s a shared responsibility. More needs to be done to preempt things or practices that negatively affect our education systems.
In my view, it is indeed healthy to require full compliance with the requirements to operate by proprietors of universities. But, how could this be achieved? By constant inspection of the higher learning institutions without fear or favour.
If government agencies aren’t able to carry out this task effectively, one would suggest forming an independent body—composed of public and private sectors—to act as a watchdog.
Another big challenge from views of many people is about designing education policy without adequate consultation with the policy implementers (i.e. educationists, lecturer/teachers et cetera) and all stakeholders.
Once policies are designed and approved, without engaging the key players, it will likely have pushbacks in two dimensions. First, the policy isn’t owned by implementers and as a result no substantial support.
Second, reluctance to implement the policy due to the fact that the implementers were excluded from being part and parcel of the policy. If all stakeholders are actively engaged they would feel a sense of obligation, a sense of ownership, and consequently the implementation will be much easier.
Additionally, education sector requires a strategic plan with proper implementation. It requires to strategize how to meet set out goals. It requires result-oriented approach and must be the golden rule.
The goal of a successful education programme and thus effective curriculum development should be to meet the needs and current demands of the culture, the society and expectations of the population being served.
Therefore, curriculum development and educational overhaul process continually undergoes review, revision and constant change. However, it might be challenging if there is no active involvement of all stakeholders, especially individuals who are directly involved in student instruction.
As our society evolves rapidly, adaptation to its demands is paramount. Therefore, teachers’ involvement in the process of curriculum revision and review is quite important; because the challenges they often face in the implementation reflect the reality and demands.
The role of teachers must never be underrated. It is important as it reflects the reality rather romantic view of educational life. Knowledge, experiences and competences of teachers are relevant in the process of constant revision of curriculum in order to respond to the needs of the society.
The curriculum must tally very well with the employability skills. The most current demand of our society is to make it a knowledge-based economy and cashless economy. Therefore, curriculum revision effort must remain constant.
Without doubt, improved quality of education empowers people and transforms lives. None of us today could ever imagine how our present generation would be without education. Quality education gives us hope, confidence and dignity. Quality education equips us with knowledge and skills to escape poverty.
Besides, quality education fosters economic growth. It is believed that quality education generates strong positive returns for our economy. Quality education is a source of highly remunerative opportunities. Once graduated, job-seekers would stand high chances of being absorbed.
For quality education to be attained, it needs, first and foremost, to value those who impart education—academics or teachers. Give them chances to enhance their skills and knowledge. Design policies—plans and strategies—of how to achieve quality education sustainably.
Then, move on to think of all requirements to make learning environment conducive. Constant and serious inspection of education providers must be strengthened more than ever before.
The writer is a law expert.
The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.