President Paul Kagame’s visit to Ecole Primaire d’Application de Kimihurura – EPAK, Tuesday, and his subsequent interaction with the pupils who freely expressed their views about their education and the kind of requirements they thought were needed to enhance their schooling was a demonstration of how far Rwanda has gone as far as development is concerned. This goes for almost all areas of human endeavor, but particularly in education.
Education is not only a social service, it is also an investment and the kind of priorities the kids were putting forward to the President clearly underscored the fact that Rwanda has evidently invested wisely.
Part of this investment is reflected in the expectations among the people of this country. Rwandans are no longer prepared to play second fiddle and they are going for the gold.
Come to think of it, as President Kagame emphasized the importance and the priority of the English language in the world we live in today, the kids at EPAK added their own item of choice to the list of priorities: a laptop.
That primary school children in Rwanda should ask not for video games or even soccer balls but laptops, is a demonstration of the quality of education offered in the schools.
In developed countries, laptops in primary schools are associated with smart kids, and now you have Rwandan primary school pupils in a school picked at random listing the laptop as the priority requirement for success in school.
Primary education in Rwanda is not only universal, but it is also quality education, and it does not get any better than what the kids at EPAK demonstrated.
The kids at EPAK in Kimihurura may not have received the laptop computers yet, but they are aware it is an on-going process throughout the entire country and they know it won’t be long before they are handed their own sets in line with the government’s policy of One Laptop Per Child.
Rwanda has remarkably revolutionized the education sector to the extent that if you look at the statistics, you would not believe this is the same country that was on its knees fourteen years ago, a country that had never had an education system worth the description.
A National Examinations Board designed to standardize and to ensure fairness and equity in the examination process was established, as well as the curriculum centre and the scholarship agency, all and more meant to help in the streamlining of the education system.
While fourteen years ago the National University of Rwanda was the only higher institution of learning with a total of less 2000 alumni in its nearly thirty years of existence, today Rwanda boasts more than ten universities offering the best quality education in some of the most relevant disciplines in the academia.
It is the legions of young men and women from these remarkable institutions that are taking over in most areas of the social-economic and political dynamics of the country and constituting, for the first time in the history of the country, what is clearly an emerging middle class of young urban professionals (yuppies) capable of taking the country to the next level.
So much good has been happening in this country to such an extent that what would have otherwise been a record achievement elsewhere, is no longer anything to write home about.
Milestones have been reached and have passed hardly been noticed. Indeed Rwanda itself is one big success story and various chapters of this story are increasingly becoming ordinary.
Otherwise, how would you explain the fact that President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda would make the terrible mistake of publicly declaring that Rwanda pays its workers well, but does not have a Universal Primary Education policy?
Primary education is a right not a privilege in Rwanda, and it is a crime to deprive any school-going child of the right to an education. Every Rwandan child is, by law, entitled to free education and this is a matter of public record.
Society is made up of those who make history and others who read it. There is no doubt that the people of Rwanda have for the last fourteen years been making history, and its about time the rest of the world started reading it correctly.