Schools are feeling the impact of a shortage of teachers two months after reopening under strict Covid-19 protocols and pressure to cover for the lost time.
Rwanda Today has learnt that teachers who were recently recruited to plug the gaps in public schools have not been deployed due to bureaucratic procedures.
A shortage of teachers, experts warned will have long-term impact on quality education and students’ performance.
Schools reopened in September after closing in March and were required to adhere to strict measures work for additional time to complete syllabus on time.
Since September, the Ministry of Education has been recruiting teachers and other staff to plug the existing gaps in schools across the country.
Out of 10,000 teachers who were needed for 650 schools countrywide, 6,300 have been recruited.
While definite numbers of the teachers who have been deployed were not available by press time, it remains unclear when they will be fully deployed in their respective schools even though the recruitment process has ended.
Speaking to Rwanda Today, Leon Mugenzi, Head of the Department of teacher management and development at Rwanda Basic Education, said the deployment began on November 15 but it will take longer before teachers reach their respective schools.
“Districts are in charge to verify if the teachers are eligible to teach. Our recruitment process was remote so district officials have to reverify. This process will take time,” Mr Mugenzi explained.
The shortage of teachers has affected teachers and students, especially national exam candidates who have not taken some principal courses in almost two months.
The first trimester is expected to end on December 24.
For Instance, Patrick Nshimiyimana, a senior six national exam candidate has not taken any computer science course since school reopened.
He is worried that when the national exam comes, he will not be equipped enough for it. “They keep saying the teacher is coming in a few weeks but it has been almost two months now. We will need catching up otherwise it is worrying,” Mr Nshimiyimana said.
The same challenge does not only face students but also schools with a shortage of staff. At Groupe Scolaire Kaganza in Nyanza district, it has been over a year without a headteacher.
The school has been waiting for a new headteacher from the ongoing recruitment. Some coordination functions that are supposed to be run by the headteacher are taken up by other school directors but sometimes this leads to conflicts, explained by Andre Niyonzima, the last headteacher to lead G.S. Kaganza but now serves as Director of Studies.
“We do not know exactly when the new teachers and staff are coming but we are told it is soon,” he added. When the academic year started in October, teachers were given five additional hours of teaching per week making it 50 hours.
The move came to allow students to catch up with lost time during the pandemic," said Mr Niyonzima.
Analysts say, with delayed teachers placement, students are at risk of missing out on even more content that has long-term effects on performance and education quality.
“They recently ended the automatic promotion policy which meant that schools have to provide good studying circumstances for students to perform better. This teacher’s delay goes against this. With these conditions, we are asking too much from students,” said Prudence Iraguha, students rights activist and education analyst.