School managers have been urged to uphold leadership principles and promote good governance if they are to offer quality education and equip learners with skills needed to build a knowledge-based economy.
The Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, made the remarks, yesterday, while launching Heads of Schools Organisation (HOSO)-Rwanda, a new platform for all head teachers in the country.
The key objective of the platform is to pursue strategies aimed at improving education quality and standards through a competitive school leadership and management framework, according to Fr Innocent Gatete, the chairman of organisation’s advisory council.
The new body is expected to bring together over 8,000 head teachers from pre-primary, primary, secondary and Technical and Vocational Training and Education (TVET) schools.
Munyakazi said little can be achieved if heads of schools do not change the way they lead their institutions.
The minister faulted some head teachers for bad leadership, which, he said, leads to poor performance, unwanted pregnancies, a high dropout rate, repetition of classes, as well as students’ absenteeism.
According to 2015 figures from the Ministry of Education, school dropout rates stood at 5.7 per cent, 6.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent in primary, and lower and upper secondary, respectively, in 2016. The repetition rate was 18.4 per cent, 11.6 per cent and 6 per cent at the same levels, respectively.
The Ministry of Health also reported that 17,444 teenagers got unwanted pregnancies in 2016 alone which affected transition and completion rates.
“Heads of schools are key stakeholders in ensuring effective implementation of education policies, strategies, programmes and initiatives,” said Munyakazi.
“Improving student outcomes as defined in the new Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) is a combination of factors. Experience has shown that improving in this area requires the headmaster or director to think and act beyond the school environment,” he added.
The Ministry will work with HOSO to build both individual and institutional capacities of member schools by establishing and monitoring school governance and accountability structures, he said.
Munyakazi said plans were underway, through the new ESSP, to upscale efforts to improve quality of education.
“A competitive education sector will propel Rwanda to its long-term aspirations like achieving a knowledge-based economy as enshrined in Vision 2020 and beyond,” he said.
Rwanda’s future, according to the minister, lies in the hands of the educators, who are tasked with delivering quality education to young people who will drive the economy.
Gatete said the association will also engage in capacity building, leadership and governance and management training, organise study tours and promote the culture of sharing experiences, among schools.
“We undertook an expensive research to explore ways to address quality issues in the education sector and discovered that the root cause is the general lack of competitive leaders, so this organisation couldn’t have come at a better time,” he said.
Local leaders welcomed the head teachers’ platform, saying it will help them improve leadership and governance skills, as well as ease coordination of their activities.
Marie Claire Uwamariya, the vice mayor in charge of social affairs in Musanze District, said quality is essential “if we are to provide knowledge, competencies, creativity, critical thinking, and ethical values that will enable school managers to contribute to economic development”.