Pre-school teachers will have to wait longer to join the state payroll after the Ministry of Education left them out of the budget, yet again.
In its staffing plan for next year released recently, the Rwanda Education Board (REB) did not include pre-school education even after it indicated it was on track to ensure every public primary school gets at least one nursery classroom.
The REB directive to district officials seen by Rwanda Today only stresses the need to hire enough teachers to abolish double shifts for Primary Four classes and to also ensure that primary and secondary classes have the required number of teachers.
REB director general Irénée Ndayambaje said that it was not possible yet for the government to employ qualified teachers in nursery schools.
“It seems we will continue with the unconventional approach by seeking the help of partners especially religious organisations and parents. Meanwhile, we continue to work on building more classrooms and train teachers for preschools. The next step will be to evaluate the resources needed to have these teachers on the payroll,” he said.
The 2018 education sector statistics indicate there are some 3,017 teaching staff in 455 public nursery schools and 1,632 government-aided nursery schools countrywide, with more than 440,690 pupils in total.
The enrollment rate in these schools still lags at about 21 percent, way below that of primary schools which stands at over 90 per cent. The enrollment level also falls short of the 30 per cent 2013-2018 sector target.
This means that while government developed a nursery learning curriculum and has also been training teachers across the 16 teacher-training colleges, many children still cannot access the schools.
Jean-Paul Safari, a former headteacher told Rwanda Today that children from poor rural households in particular, were left out of organised early education since parents are unable to meet the costs of running the facilities. Government support is limited to the curriculum and a few learning and teaching materials.
“The way things work, there are parents’ committees that decide amount each should contribute so they can pay the teachers, buy uniforms and other needs. Usually, not all parents are able to do that,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Samuel Mulindwa had earlier told a joint education sector review meeting that a budget proposal that sought money to cater for salaries of teachers in pre-primary schools this year had not been approved by the Ministry of Finance.
“We are still negotiating with the Ministry to see if we can get the budget to pay teachers at least for the pre-primary classrooms that have been constructed,” he said.
REB boss Mr Ndayambaje did not disclose the amount that was needed, and the number of teachers they intended to recruit since the matter was still under negotiations.
He only said that teachers were needed for the preparatory classroom built in existing schools as part of an ongoing school infrastructure expansion project.
The initial plan was to have at least a nursery classroom per cell by 2018, but the programme reportedly ran into headwinds due to competing priorities at local administrative levels.
Mr Ndayambaje said that they encouraged institutions like churches to accommodate learners at their facilities pending the expansion of classrooms.