The Ministry of Education is seeking to save up to Rwf5 billion by having local teachers develop textbooks for the new competence-based curriculum.
Since 2009, the education ministry would buy the textbooks from publishers and then the National Curriculum Development Centre would distribute them to schools through the districts.
However, this was costly as the government was paying more than Rwf6 billion to publishers, who were accused of providing poor content and delaying the delivery and distribution of the textbooks to schools.
Education Minister Eugene Mutimura, said the government decided to utilise local teachers as content developers to expedite the work and enable the ministry to have ownership and copyright of textbooks.
“There are many benefits in having these textbooks developed and published here. It eases delivery and reduces costs. It will also help us own the content, so we can easily correct the content, which was not the case when the copyright was owned by publishers,” said Dr Mutimura.
Covering a gap
So far, around 180 educators, including teachers, photo illustrators, senior lecturers at the University of Rwanda, Rwanda Education Board staff in charge of pedagogy have been in Musanze for the past 60 days working on the new textbooks.
The exercise was initiated by government at the beginning of the year, mostly to cover a gap in textbooks not supplied to schools in the previous academic year.
According to developers, at least 46 textbooks were yet to be developed for the new competence-based curriculum, after some publishers deliberately stalled the work or failed to deliver.
“So far the work is going on well. The teachers have finalised textbooks for term 1, 2 and 3 for all class levels. Their work involves creating 46 textbooks plus a teacher’s guide for science, languages and humanities subjects."
"For example, there were no textbooks for A level chemistry of French, but with the support of teachers these books are at the final stage and we hope to have them ready as soon as possible,” said Jeremie Bahumuwenda, a pedagogical adviser at Rwanda Education Board.
However, some teachers and parents expressed concern about the educational content that reflects little or no Rwandan values as focus is put on international material.
This is despite the government pushing for the implementation of a competence-based curriculum.
“We still see students mastering international content more than our own. For example, a child can narrate the life of French leader Napoleon Bonaparte, but is unable to talk about King Kigeli IV Rwabugiri,” said one parent from Musanze district.
Dr Mutimura said the competence-based curriculum has taken into consideration such concerns and had tried to prioritise Rwandan content where it was necessary.
He added that having copyright of textbooks will provide flexibility to modify content where necessary.