THE 1994 genocide against the Tutsis really messed up the education sector of this country.
With so many teachers killed, a huge skills gap was created and is yet to be fully addressed. Scores of school going children were orphaned when their parents were massacred.
Many more lost their lives and thus Rwanda was robbed of its future leaders and policy implementers.
Most of the education infrastructure was left in ruins as well. 15 years later, a lot of work has been done in an effort to restore and set Rwanda back on the development path.
Now we have several schools and the enrolment numbers are at their highest thanks to the free basic education provided by the government.
ICT has been embraced at all levels of the education sector most significant is the One Laptop per Child programme for the primary school pupils.
The education sector has also been recognised by investors at different levels. We have more universities, secondary schools and primary schools than before.
With first class schools like Green Hills Academy and Riviera High School, parents no longer have to ferry their children across the border for what they consider to be, a good education.
With the prevailing stability, growth and development, it is time for school owners to think about institutionalising their schools. What does this mean anyway? Most dictionaries define an institution as organisation that has been in existence for a long time and is well established and respected.
Institutionalising a school therefore means creating an environment where the school is considered by the general public and the learners that attend it to be an established and respected entity.
For example, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard universities are well respected globally and so is Makerere University, and University of Dar es Salaam in East Africa.
Schools like Starehe Boys and Alliance High School in Kenya can be considered institutions because of their impressive record.
In Uganda, you can look at Kings’ College Budo, Gayaza High School, Namilyango College, Ntare High School and Busoga College Mwiri as some of the long institutionalised great schools.
Here we also have Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare which was the first school in Rwanda-Burundi way back in 1929.
The unique quality that the above-mentioned schools have is that they have been around for more than 70 years. There existence has also been characterised by an impressive academic record.
On the contrary most of the schools we have in Rwanda are not that old and even some of the old ones have undergone so many changes that seem to make them cumulatively new. This however does not in any way imply that the schools here are not good enough.
It is simply a sign that they have not yet reached a level where they can be considered brands if I may borrow a marketing term.
When a school is institutionalised and achieves a brand status then even its products are associated with this brand.
The question we need to be asking ourselves now is whether the children who attend the schools they attend are proud to be associated with these schools.
Our president is proud to have attended Ntare High School and we are always reminded that Barack Obama is a Harvard graduate.
This attachment and pride is a result of having attended a school that was more than just a school but an institution. An institution that passed on vital values, attitudes, skills and knowledge to those who attended regardless of whether they passed or failed.
With the efforts to integrate the East African countries now in full gear, it has become rather prudent for us to take our schools to another level where they can command more respect and prestige by institutionalising them.
This will in turn make them more competitive at the regional level. Next week I will further explain how this can and should be done.Follow https://twitter.com/ssojo81