12-year basic education program to start in February
Given the remarkable success of the 9-year basic education program, the government is now seeking to extend it to 12 years. This was also one of the campaign pledges made by President Kagame in the 2010 elections.
“Students who have passed senior three exams will now get automatically enrolled into senior 4,” explained the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Mathias Harebamungu, adding that classes will commence in February. “The implementation of the program is for 88% complete.”
He clarified that there are currently 77,602 students in senior 3, and of those who have passed the exams 54% will be enrolled in general education, 5% in Teaching Training Centers (TTCs) and 41% in technical and vocational training and education (TVET).
The 9-year basic education was sometimes hampered by the lack of classrooms, which led to the double use of the available rooms in morning and afternoon sessions for different groups. This time, according to Harebamungu, the problem has been anticipated, and classroom construction is for 90% finished. He said only finishing touches remain, such as the construction of water tanks or the installation of didactic equipment. The schools will also be equipped with biogas systems.
Another problem experienced in the 9-year program was the inequality between schools when it comes to science laboratories – leading to complaints that some students were disadvantaged at practical exams. However, the Minister said this has been solved by replacing big expensive labs with individual student kits which will contain all equipment necessary for the national curriculum.
In addition, all schools will have at least one room reserved for a library. Some two million books have already been dispatched to the Tronc Commun level (O level) including mathematics, English, physics, chemistry, and computer science. And another 314,800 books were also distributed for senior 4 levels.
The new program will obviously require an increased number of teachers, and Harebamungu announced that 2878 new teachers have been recruited for all levels confounded, while 244 new ones have been assigned to TVET. As far as the English program for teachers is concerned, he explained that the government has agreed with the Kenyan Teaching Service Commission to bring some 2500 English teachers to Rwanda.
“We have established a program called ‘School-Based Mentoring’ where we want to improve teachers’ fluency in English, and the Kenyans who will begin working in February will each be assigned to a specific school to help their Rwandan colleagues to improve their level of speaking and teaching in English,” the Minister explained. “The budget amounts to Frw 4.5 billion, and remuneration has been agreed upon with the Kenyan Teaching Service Commission; so there will be no complaints.”