KIGALI - One of the key goals for the Government is to turn the country into a knowledge-based economy, and there is no better way to do it than equitably expand on the educational opportunities and improve on the quality of education imparted.
During the year that just ended, the country’s education sector registered remarkable success in achieving its goals. As we usher into the New year, it is important to analyze the successes of 2010, as a foundation for continued progress.
The Nine-Year Basic Education
The nine year basic education programme was introduced to reduce the school dropout rates. The programme, however, had to deal with the shortage of the infrastructure, mainly classrooms, to accommodate the increased numbers of students.
To deal with the challenge, the public was urged to join in the efforts to build the classrooms, the Government provided building material and the people provided the labour.
In a space of only three months, a total of 3, 171 classrooms and over 10, 000 restrooms were completed before the beginning of the 2010 academic year. The classrooms accommodated the over 170,000 students who joined the lower level of secondary in 2010.
Teachers train in English
Over 50,000 teachers from Primary and Secondary schools around the country were trained on how to use English as a language of instruction in schools. The move, aimed at facilitating the promotion of English as a language of instruction in the country’s education sector.
Performance of rural schools was incredible
Again in the just-concluded year, rural schools showed an intensity of excellence during the 2009 A-level exams, beating city schools that had previously been the best performers.
Groupe Scolaire de Janja in Gakenke District came first in secondary education with average weighted aggregated points of 51.3 percent.
Rural schools also excelled in science with most students who excelled in science subjects coming from rural schools.
In explaining the shift in performance, the State Minister of primary and secondary education said that the excellent performance of rural schools was a result of government’s efforts to equip the public schools with equipment that foster a conducive environment to study..
Higher education budget slashed
This year also saw the reduction by government spending on Higher Education.
In the 2010/11 budget that was read in June, the Minister of Finance announced that the funds allocated to Public Institutions of Higher Learning would be reduced by 25 percent, in favour of lower education.
The decision had an immediate effect on the benefiting institutions as many were reported in massive cost cutting activities like reducing their staff while others resorting to setting up income generating activities to bridge the gap.
With the reduced budget, the Ministry of Education announced the scrapping of the monthly stipend that was being given to university students on government sponsorship.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Charles Murigande, said that the scrapping of the Rwf25, 000 allowance was to save more funds which will be injected in the 9-Year Basic Education (9YBE) programme and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
He, however, assured them that the government will continue to pay for tuition. Those at risk of dropping out because of the cuts would get special consideration.
High school graduates in Adult literacy drive
Having a population that is able to read, count and write is one way of ensuring development. The Education Ministry, within the EDPRS framework, set a target of having 85 percent of men and 80 percent of women literate by 2011.
It is against this background that students who are in their senior six vacations were recruited to teach their adult illiterate neighbours how to read and write.
The campaign involved 8,600 students on voluntary basis.
An estimated 162, 000 adults were part of the programme by the end of 2010.
The milk feeding programme
After realizing that there were high numbers of malnutrition in some parts of the country, the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Education decided to carry out a pilot programme of feeding school children in lower primary.
The ‘One pint of Milk per child programme’ kicked off in May and by the end of the year, close to 20,000 pupils in 30 primary schools in six districts of the country were beneficiaries.
The districts selected were Bugesera, Kamonyi, Nyanza, Ngororero, Gakenke and Karongi, based on the malnutrition index.
The plan is to roll out the programme country wide.
In conclusion, the above mentioned projects were not only a success, but a strong foundation for the education sector to build on this year and the future beyond.