Learning has been hampered across the country due to hitches in the production of textbooks needed to implement a new curriculum, with schools reporting having few or no resources at all for some subjects.
The Rwanda Education Board was yet to deliver the materials weeks to the end of the third term.
Only schools that have a printing budgets have managed to teach this year using printed samples of the books REB uploaded on its website, albeit without copies for students.
“It is expensive when you look at the cartridges and the paper costs. We spent close to Rwf3 million on producing samples to facilitate teaching and learning in more than 19 classes,” said Philomene Mukamanzi, of GSNDBC Byumba, a school in Gicumbi District with more than 720 students.
A number of schools have had to do without these materials, which has complicated teaching a number of subjects including science, IT and languages.
“In our case only teachers were able to access the soft books online to guide their lessons, but students spent the entire year with no single books in several subjects. There are several other subjects where we received books but they were few,” said Jean Baptiste Karekezi, the deputy head teacher in charge of studies at Groupe Scolaire Rambura Fille, a secondary school in Nyabihu District.
“This is a problem that is common to many schools here, and which we have raised with authorities. We have not been told how long we will have to wait.”
Government was supposed to procure textbooks directly for more than 45 subjects, and expedite delivery of additional books to schools that were not served when it halted contracts with publishers as it opted for in-house publishing.
But as the year ends, schools continue to protest saying that the delay is taking a toll on teaching and learning.
Figures show that in several schools in the rural areas, more than 10 students share a single book for a number of subjects while some have none.
Rambura Fille, for example, was found to have no single books for Chemistry, Physics, and Biology despite having three science combinations in upper secondary.
Besides, teachers in ordinary level classes struggled to teach 61 students with only four to eight books in more than four classes. The missing books include those for chemistry, History and Kinyarwanda.
REB director-General Irénée Ndayambaje said that the affected schools would soon receive books as the government was fast-tracking the distribution.
He said the delay was as a result of the long process involved in the production of books. Although he did not give the timelines, he indicated that lower primary subjects have been given priority in the distribution, and will be followed with upper primary and secondary schools.
“We are currently distributing books for Kinyarwanda, Mathematics and English subject for Primary One to Three, and we are making sure that there is a book per student in these foundation classes. It’s a process, but it will not take long since printing is being done locally,’ he said.
Although Mr Ndayambaje does not deny the delay was weighing down the output of the education sector, he argues it was not the core matter, citing the just-concluded nationwide school inspection that pointed to other factors like students’ absenteeism as a top factor.