Beauty pageants a reminder of the need to overhaul education system

Editor, REFER to Alline Akintore’s article, “Of beauty queens, Kinyarwanda and Rwanda’s education system”, published in The New Times issue of February 4.
IFAK students during a lesson on January 23. The New Times / T. Kisambira.
IFAK students during a lesson on January 23. The New Times / T. Kisambira.

Editor,

REFER to Alline Akintore’s article, “Of beauty queens, Kinyarwanda and Rwanda’s education system”, published in The New Times issue of February 4.

Ms. Akintore made such a good point here. I do not know how often this has to be repeated for it to be implemented. The Miss Rwanda contest has shown that our education system needs to be revamped.

We need change in our education because the current system isn’t literally working. For how long do we have to wait? Students need to be taught in a language they understand first (that’s the mother language and we are lucky to have a single language, Kinyarwanda), and then learn a foreign language later when they have mastered the basics of Kinyarwanda.

How and who should teach the foreign language remains key to the improvement of our language skills as Rwandans. How do you expect someone who never learnt a language to teach it? It happens – some students are being taught by teachers who only did the so called training in English or French.

I am not saying everything is bad, I am just saying it can and should be better. I am afraid our education system is heading the wrong direction if nothing is done urgently to reverse the trend.

Jean-Léon Iragena, United States

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I am thrilled that someone else shares my opinion on this.

Rwandan students cannot develop intellectually without the grasp of elementary linguistic aspects.

Since Kinyarwanda is a language that we all speak and understand, this would create room for creativity and philosophical literature, a deeper understanding of the subject taught and a passion and admiration for our culture and language which our country seems to lack.

And as Ms. Akintore argued, if China and Russia can do it, why can’t we? I often notice spelling errors on small business’ commercial signs, even in well-known restaurants in Kinyarwanda – not to say French...

It is very agonising to see how a large majority of Rwandans cannot fully speak/write neither English, French, nor Kinyarwanda; and this should not be blamed on the state of the economy but on our pedagogical choices as a whole.

Lysa Uwizeyimana, New York, United States

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I deeply thank Ms. Akintore for this inspiring article. All that she mentioned is right and should be considered for further discussion. However, my one concern would be: How is Rwanda and the Rwandan education system going to get the education materials in Kinyarwanda?

This means, all books, theories and so forth have to be written in Kinyarwanda.

Do we have that capacity? I don’t think so. I would suggest to have a transition period where our academics will spend time to re-think and re-design programmes.

By the way, this will help them to refresh and update their knowledge. 

I think this would be the perfect opportunity to express their hidden knowledge.

Let’s build a strong Rwanda that is self-sufficient in the education system too.

Maxwave, Brussels, Belgium

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