EDITORIAL: When it comes to public education, spare no effort in getting us good quality

Wednesday November 6 2019

students

A number of schools have been forced to teach in shifts in order to accommodate high student population. PHOTO | Cyril Ndegeya 

RWANDA TODAY
By RWANDA TODAY
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Rwanda's education sector currently faces a three-pronged problem; overcrowding, few quality teachers and low wages for teachers.

Public schools continue to churn out students who cannot even get the correct spellings of basic words, to say nothing of the poor grasp of mathematics, and English.

The country lacks a sound early childhood education system, and many pupils have not gone through any form of pre-primary and nursery classes, which has largely contributed to their lack of skills necessary to survive in a competitive job market.

Education experts have also blamed the poor grades in national exams and high levels of student dropouts on the absence of early childhood education. They add that many students get frustrated with the idea of learning.

The country has had at least four ministers of education in the past seven years, not to mention changes in the leadership structures, all the way to the university level. Some students at the University of Rwanda have been moved from one faculty to another - from Kigali to Butare – in one year.

These acts, separately and together, other than being a clear manifestation of the confusion within the education sector, make it hard for students to concentrate on their studies.

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The education sector is among the most delicate of any economy for it anchors the country's future, through nurturing human capacity, talents and skills. You can predict a country's future by looking at its education sector.

It is, therefore, time for the government to refocus and deploy more resources to the sector.

In some schools, more than 100 students are crammed into a small classroom. It gets worse for this crowded classroom as one teacher is then expected to tend to the learning needs of these large number.

It is unmanageable, to say the least. This does not need a magic bullet to solve. All it takes is to build more classrooms.

The government is moving to hire assistant teachers to ease pressure on public schools that are overcrowded with students across the country. This is a good step on ts own but it is also likely to be a quick fix like many initiatives we have seen over the years; many lasting less than two years before hitting the reset button.

The meagre salaries and benefits have also made the sector unattractive to professional teachers.

It dims one’s hopes to hear that a budget proposal meant to pay teachers for pre-primary education sits at the Ministry of Finance unapproved. Shouldn’t such a proposal be top on the priority list?

It is also high time the government comes good on its promises to go high tech by embracing educational technologies, like virtual classrooms which will not only help in decongestion, but also deal with the unfavourable teacher-student ratios.

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