32 Nyagatare teachers forced to resign

More than 30 education officials in Nyagatare District in Eastern Province have resigned since the beginning of February 2018.
Mupenzi speaks during the meeting in Nyagatare. Kelly Rwamapera.
Mupenzi speaks during the meeting in Nyagatare. Kelly Rwamapera.

More than 30 education officials in Nyagatare District in Eastern Province have resigned since the beginning of February 2018.

District authorities said the teachers failed to meet expectations and some head teachers were accused of mismanagement of school funds.

The district mayor, George Mupenzi, said the affected teachers had been warned several times against excessive drunkenness and absenteeism but they failed to heed the warnings.

“In mid-November 2017 we tasked four teams to inspect all schools in the district and assess problems in education,” he started.

“The report they came out with indicated many cases of unprofessionalism and violation of job descriptions which were accompanied by warnings. Some changed their conduct but others turned a deaf ear”.

Following the November report, on February 2, 2018, the district summoned 60 teachers who had failed to heed earlier warnings.

At least 32 of them resigned, 14 pleaded for one more chance while 12 were found with graver faults and are to be taken to courts of law, according to the mayor.

The victims’ voices

However, those who resigned deny any wrong doing, adding that they had never received a single warning, formal or informal.

They say they were forced by district authorities in the February 2 meeting to sign on already prepared resignation letters addressed to the district mayor.

They argue that the district authorities do not have the right information about them and made inappropriate decision against them.

Dorothea Mukapeti 47, worked at Groupe Scolaire Bufunda in Mukama Sector as a deputy head teacher. She was a victim of prior misunderstandings with the head teacher who she reported for keeping ‘ghost’ and under working teachers.

“There could be some with faults but most of us are victims of misunderstandings with individuals in authority” she said.

Mukapeti says the district never made a thorough inspection but based on reports from head teachers “which are not enough to pin someone to the extent of leaving work.”

“I have never got any warning from my head teacher or anyone else prior to the resignation letter.”

Emmanuel Baziga is one of the five headmasters who resigned. He too says he was forced to resign on grounds of absenteesim but argues that he had received official permission to go for medication.

“The district authorities are ignorant about what’s taking place in schools,” Baziga says.

He mentioned that during the November inspection, he was accused by the district for not giving lunch to students which was not true.

“The sector gave a wrong report about my school’s feeding programme for reasons I don’t know and after inspection, they found that the sector authorities were wrong,” he said.

Talking about the November 2017 inspection, Baziga said, “We never received a feedback from the inspection as usual and there was nothing like warnings”.

Teachers say they wrote to the district pleading their innocence and asked the district authorities to carryout thorough investigations about the allegations leveled against them.

“We wrote to the district, and copied the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour, the provincial authorities and Rwanda Teachers Union,” say Baziga and Mukapeti.

Teachers’ body

According to the Secretary General, Rwanda Teachers’ Union, Faustin Halelimana, they are looking for evidence related to the allegations.

“We have written to Nyagatare District asking to meet with them about the teachers’ complaints,” Halelimana said.

Halelimana said, “surely the law must be respected to create harmony between parties and anything unlawful cannot be entertained”.

Currently, the district has enough teachers, mayor Mupenzi said.

Nyagatare District is home for 374 schools including kindergartens, vocational, primary and secondary schools with over 150,000 learners.

The district has had challenges in the education sector, including overcrowding in classrooms and the infamous case of 128 ‘ghost’ teachers and many underworking teachers in 2016-2017.

The Ministry of Education has been solving overcrowding in classrooms and constructed 1572 classrooms for 12-year basic education schools with 60 of them constructed last year.