At least 70 per cent of temporary student dropout issues, which have been identified in two previous educational campaigns have been resolved, according to officials from the Ministry of Education with teachers calling on the government to intensify school inspections.
Teachers and parents’ associations commended the latest progress on inspection and quality of education campaign, which has led to significant reduction on the student dropout rates but still worry that issues relating to parental mind-set and school management still persist.
Benjamin Kageruka, the head of Education Quality Assurance department at the Ministry of Education said that in the ongoing and third campaign on issues affecting quality of education, dropout and class repetition rate have significantly reduced due to pressure exerted on both parents and local leaders.
“Initially, there was some kind of complacency among officials in charge of education at local Government levels and parents. Our fields outreaches identified that in areas which had major agricultural projects like rice and wheat plantations, parents withdrew children from school and sent them to work as labourers to support the family.
“Dropout issues were not because children failed to pay fees, some found it unnecessary to go to school when their colleagues were out there making money, but the recent crackdown and pressure to send children to school has paid off,” he explained.
The 2017 year book statistics indicate that while the dropout rate was on upward trend in the years of 2012 and 2014, at between 10 per cent and 12 per cent of the then enrolled students in primary. The recent pressures have seen numbers going down significantly to 5.7 per cent and 5.6 per cent in the past two academic years.
According to the same report, in secondary schools the number of students, who have dropped out, was only 4.1 per cent of the total enrolled students in senior one classes, although the number increasingly becomes higher for students in senior two which is 8.6 per cent.
“The systems that are now in place allow teachers to conduct regular headcounts before classes begin and every teacher has found out reasons that led to a student missing class, especially if the student is not sick and has gone to the hospital.
Zero drop out
“Local governments have also been helpful in the search of businesses that have been luring children into casual labour, explained Augustin Mukunzi a teacher and a parent in Musanze district. The head of inspection at the ministry further said that they was a chance to have zero dropout rates if parents co-operate and understand the importance of the free education policy.
“We have realised that it’s good to keep up these campaigns and probably we shall extend it till late next year, because not only does it helps us keep records of what is going on the ground, the pressure is helping us deliver and we cannot relent, there are too many other issues that need serious commitment,” he further explained.
According to Mr Kageruka, the government in its latest campaign decided to narrow the scope of assessment.