Education ministry reforms exam system

KIGALI - The Rwanda National Examination Council (RNEC) has adopted a new examination setting and answering style to pave way for open questions.
Murekeraho (left) and Rutayisire during the release of Senior Six exam results last Saturday. (Photo/J.Mbanda)
Murekeraho (left) and Rutayisire during the release of Senior Six exam results last Saturday. (Photo/J.Mbanda)

KIGALI - The Rwanda National Examination Council (RNEC) has adopted a new examination setting and answering style to pave way for open questions.

RNEC’s Executive Secretary, John Rutayisire says the aim is to change old style that has been characterised by closed questions where students have been giving narrow answers.

Rutayisire said over the weekend that the new set-up will enable students write detailed essays on a given      question unlike the old style that has been limiting them to brief and specific answers.

He further said that there is a need to stamp out tendency of cramming teachers’ notice by the students.

“We aim at training them how to look and select appropriate information themselves,” he said last Saturday during a function to the release of 2007 Senior Six examination results at RNEC head office in Remera. 

The State Minister in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Joseph Murekeraho who released the results, noted that the new exam answering requires deeper thinking.

“Students will have to explicitly put across their knowledge capabilities during exams periods and it’s up to teachers to make sure students fulfil that,” the minister said.

However, the changes in national examination system which the Ministry of Education said aim at transforming the education sector, have adversely affected students’ performance in last year’s national examinations results. 

The results released in January and last weekend showed a decline in the overall students’ performance at Primary Six and Senior Six levels.

The Primary Six overall performance was 26.74 percent from 32.17% in 2006 for the total 15,924 students who sat exams.

While at Senior Six, it declined from 74 percent of previous year to 71 percent of 35,705 students that sat 2007 national exams with at least 10,444 students who failed completely.   
Murekeraho attributed students’ performance decline to the teachers’ slow pace to adopt a new stipulated teaching method that prepares students for detailed exam answering style.

However, Rutayisire pointed out that the decline is also due to the fundamental changes that have been introduced by NEC.

“It is my personal conviction the fundamental changes we implemented recently in the way we set exams. Now, we are requiring students to prove their understanding of critical issues of the country especially in the humanities field.” He said that in the ongoing Education Sector reform; students are required to spend at least 35 minutes and answering one question on two pages.

“Therefore the new changes in the exams selection and answering mechanisms the performance was a success,” he explained

He said that Rwanda’s entry into the East African Community (EAC) requires that students not only to be tutored to international level but also become very competitive.
 He added that Rwanda is determined to make the education system very competitive.

“We know in the short term students might difficulties in adjusting to the new standards but in the long run it is good for the nation in terms of competitiveness as far as the East African labour market is concerned,” he said.

With the new exam system, individual schools’ teaching styles are obliged to be done in a way that makes them comparable to all schools in the EAC region.

Murekeraho emphasised that Rwanda as a new member of the EAC is needs to become accustomed to the regional education system.
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