Government in fresh bid to improve teachers’ welfare

The Government is working on a plan to improve the welfare of teachers and subsequently the quality of teaching, it has emerged.
The policy will also be used as a yardstick to reward teachers as they progress in their careers.     The New Times/ John Mbanda.
The policy will also be used as a yardstick to reward teachers as they progress in their careers. The New Times/ John Mbanda.

The Government is working on a plan to improve the welfare of teachers and subsequently the quality of teaching, it has emerged.

The plan, dubbed ‘Teachers Development and management Policy’, is one of the several initiatives aimed at streamlining the education sector, according to Emmanuel Rutayisire, the director general of Rwanda Education Board (Reb).

He was speaking last Friday on the eve of celebrations to mark the International Teachers Day. The day was marked under the theme; ‘Quality Teaching’, as recommended by Unesco.

“As it has been for health practitioners, the government also wants teachers to have a specialised statute, which will guide recruitment, career progression and retirement of teachers,” he said.

He said that the current trend is that a person graduates from university or college and they automatically become teachers without going through any form of vetting of their ability to teach.

To ensure quality, the new policy will also consider the opinion of students, in the career progression of a teacher.

Rutayisire said they are working with the Ministry of Public Service and Labour (Mifotra) to develop the policy, but did not give the timeframe within which the policy will be ready.

Samuel Mulindwa, the Mifotra permanent secretary, said a professional statute is required because it will be used in rewarding the teachers as they progress in their careers.

Life improving

Although teachers’ conditions today have improved, a lot more remains to be done.

Alphonse Munyaneza, the director of Nyagisozi, a primary school in Musange Sector, Nyamagabe District, said some teachers use school time to attend to personal ventures and this affects learning. “For instance, a teacher first attends to their farm for a couple of hours, before heading to school,” he said. “The same teacher will then rush home after class to finish what was started in the morning. In that case, quality is difficult to achieve. You do not expect a teacher going through that to perform to the expected standards.”

Munyaneza added that most teachers get side businesses in order to complement the meagre salaries.

On this, Rutayisire said, with several consultations they have come up with several incentives to make sure teachers’ welfare improve progressively.

Those incentives include a loan that is given by Umwalimu Sacco, a teachers’ saving cooperative that was accredited by central bank in 2008.

According to statistics from the  teachers’ management and staffing unit in Reb, Umwarimu Sacco currently has 81, 461 members.  The Sacco has given out a cumulative loan of over Rwf47 billion since 2009.

Over 200, 000 loan facilities have since been given to teachers, meaning that some of them have acquired the loans more than once.

The maximum loan a teacher can access today is Rwf15 million payable within 15 years with an interest of 11 per cent.

However, a cooperative can access more than this.

Koperative Isonga za Kamonyi, made up of 20 teachers from G.S Runda, acquired a Rwf 25m loan in 2011 from which they bought a truck that people hire for transportation  of construction materials.

According to Emmanuel Munyaneza, the president of the cooperative, they have managed to survive against all odds.

“Rwf40,000 is the maximum we earn every day and we are planning to venture into selling of foodstuffs on a large scale,” he said.

Umwalimu Sacco started with a grant of Rwf8bn from the government.

Other incentives designed to boost teachers’ welfare include the One Cow, One Teacher programme that started three years ago. Since then, about 300 cows have been given to teachers every year.

And recently, the ministry started construction of teachers’ quarters at public schools. So far, 416 housing units have been built, according to Rutayisire.  Each of them is shared by eight teachers.

There are over 2,500 primary schools with 37,000 teachers countrywide, while over 20,000 teachers serve in 1,500 secondary schools.

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