Reshuffle: Education Ministry hit hard

All the ministers who retained their portfolios and those who were given new appointments in last week’s cabinet reshuffle are in working mood.

All the ministers who retained their portfolios and those who were given new appointments in last week’s cabinet reshuffle are in working mood.

For some reasons, for the last two consecutive reshuffles, the Education Ministry has been the single biggest target.
And in my view, this year’s reshuffle triggered one of the biggest debates about cabinet jobs, although one key name stood out in these debates: Mr. Theoneste Mutsindashaka, who had been fired days earlier.

City dwellers, sector leaders, teachers, head teachers and students all sat down and took note of what they remembered of the man. In this column I will bring up selected remarks drawn from some of these debates.

You see the public had been convinced that the tough speaking minister was exceptionally good, who could put his previous experience as Kigali City Mayor and provincial governor, and thereby resist the exit door.

In the debates, people’s views were varied on whether Mr. Mutsindashaka deserved an unceremonious sending off.
The justice sector has already spoken.

The man was under investigation over alleged tender scam, which is enough to justify his sacking-- as he has joined the long list of public servants who have abused office.
But even without that, certain sections of people supported his send off because of his previous actions.

Long before he became minister, while working as City Mayor, Mr. Mutsindashaka took the unprecedented step of closing all unfinished storied houses in Kigali. Since that time,

construction on some of these houses has never resumed and there is no business on such houses. This was the first group of people who seemed to welcome his sacking.

And the wider picture is just that if you are fired it means you have not been a good custodian of a public office. The changes well may cause some short term effects, but in the end it will most likely lead to improvement of things in the affected sector.

Other critics argue that it was negligence of the first two former education ministers, a path closely followed by the team sacked in the most recent reshuffle -- which led genocide ideology to prevail in schools.

Most people in several schools –teachers and pupils harboured this vice.  The biggest blunder however, was probably the single-issue approach to tackling issues in the education sector.

Despite streams of cash flowing to the education ministry, less attention was paid to building classrooms in several schools-leading many pupils, especially in rural schools, to study under tree sheds.

This automatically aggravates poor academic standards than otherwise would have been the case.

A certain teacher in Kigali remembered how he was in 2008 embarrassingly arrested and detained before later being sacked on orders of Mr. Mutsindashaka –on alleged assault charges. The teacher said the minister, without waiting for the court to do its work, was compromised after meeting the child’s mother.

In some circles it has been alleged that divisions had been created and there were parallel administrative systems within the ministry-one loyal to the senior and another to the junior minister- which had undermined the overall performance of the ministry.

Were all these actions mistakes, or are all these allegations true? Perhaps not, but what is undisputable is that the former minister had overstayed his welcome.

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