Schools are grappling with shortage of teachers and classrooms ahead of the reopening for the second term, Rwanda Today has learnt.
There is also concern over the surge in new Covid-19 infections due to the Omicron variant that was recorded in the country since mid-December.
On December 29, the country recorded the highest jump of 2,083 new cases, driving up the positivity rate to 9.1 percent.
Already, the government had imposed vaccination mandates including threatening “to temporarily close public or private premises with identified clusters of people infected with Covid-19.”
However, education officials are concerned that there is no enough space to enforce social distancing ahead of the schools reopening on January 10.
Ministry of Education did not respond to our questions regarding schools’ readiness to reopen for the new term which is scheduled to run from January 10 to March 31.
“We still have to keep learners in available classrooms where we end up with 80 to 90 of them in one classroom. So we expect that additional classrooms will be completed to help us even mitigate potential infections,” said William Bizimana, head of Ecole Primaire Bibungo, a newly-created school in Nyarugenge District.
The school with 1,200 learners uses 12 classrooms after construction works for an additional eight classrooms stalled.
There is also concern over teachers who are yet to be deployed.
“Missing teachers are mainly in combinations such as Mathematics and economy, computer science, and others. It’s more difficult in schools that are yet to get school leaders and support staff because their deployment has also not taken place,” said Andre Rushigajiki, a head teacher of GS Bwisige in Gicumbi.
The recruitment for estimated 11,000 teachers needed in the new academic year, which started in September has not filled the vacancies on time at most schools even as the government moved to source additional teachers from Zimbabwe under the educational personnel exchange agreement signed between the two countries on December 23.
The 306 teachers expected in the initial phase are expected to fill a gap for teaching staff created by the massive school infrastructure expansion that added over 20,000 new classrooms under a joint project with the World Bank.
Rwanda education development board and individual districts have been filling the vacancies through phased recruitments since last year.
However, despite recruiters completing administering exams and selecting successful candidates within weeks following the reopening schools in October, many schools had not received the teachers by the time they closed for the first term.
A mini survey by Rwanda Today across schools indicated that more classrooms started as part of the nationwide school infrastructure expansion to deal with overcrowding were either not completed or lack equipment after issues ranging from limited land for expansion, lack of construction materials and issues with contractors derailed works.
Vaccine mandates on travel in and out of Kigali is also likely to pose challenges for suppliers as some are not yet fully vaccinated.
On Tuesday, 28th December, the Ministry of Education urged all teachers and school leaders who were fully vaccinated to ensure they get the booster shot ahead of reopening of the second term for the 2021/2022 school year on January 10 as per the school calendar.
The government also expedited the vaccination of the teens aged 12 to 17 who are eligible for the second dose since December 23.