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Joint Review of the Education Sector in Rwanda focuses on quality education for all

Kigali, October 12, 2010 - Last week, the Government of Rwanda and its key partners, including UNICEF, sat down for a two-day annual review meeting to assess progress in improving the quality of education in Rwanda.

“Rwanda has made impressive progress in increasing access to, and enrolment of children in school”, outlined Dr. Joseph Foumbi, UNICEF Representative, at the opening of the review. “UNICEF and indeed the UN in Rwanda will continue to focus on a holistic approach to the provision of quality education and the inclusion of all children in the system”, he added, “which is why I would like to support the Government’s desire to invest in Early Childhood development programmes, especially for the most disadvantaged,” he added. “ECD is one of the key tools we have to ensure equity and inclusion in the educational system.”

The two day review brought together over two hundred participants from the public, private, formal and informal sectors and included a series of presentations and discussions.

Data presented during the review confirmed that Rwanda continues to be on track to achieve the education-related Millennium Development Goals. Primary school enrolment rates increased from 93% in 2009 to an impressive 95% for 2010, with the figure for girls’ enrolment standing at 97%. Primary completion rates have also increased from 74.5% in 2009 to 75.6% in 2010 with girls’ primary completion (79.8%) markedly greater than for boys (71.4%).

Financing of the education sector has also been impressive. In 2010, Rwanda’s education sector accounted for 17% of the national budget with 50% of funds allocated to basic education. This availability of funds enabled the recruitment of 2,146 new primary teachers, the construction of 3,072 classrooms with 9,175 latrines for the nine year basic education programme and also enabled the ministry to purchase 3,054,950 primary school textbooks, train 40,008 primary and secondary teachers in English, and provide skills and knowledge to 249 English teachers to allow them to become school-based mentors.

While highlighting this progress, government and partners also acknowledged challenges namely:

• the insufficient recruitment of teachers - over a thousand below the target, which combined with the increases in enrolment resulted in a slightly worsening qualified teacher to pupil ratio of 68:1 (from 67:1 in 2008)
• the double-shift system - while allowing far greater numbers of children to attend school, this system reduces the number of contact hours for learners
• the switch to English as the medium of instruction - whilst being responded to admirably by teachers, will clearly impact the quality of education for the immediate future.

The Minister of Education, Charles Murigande highlighted the importance of ensuring that teachers rapidly develop proficiency in English and that they use learner-centered methodologies in the classroom. “We need to focus resources around achieving these objectives”, he said. “If we can achieve this the rest will follow”.

As co-chair of the Education Development Partners Group, UNICEF supports the Ministry of Education in meeting the above challenges and providing the technical guidance to make every school in Rwanda child friendly, equitable and inclusive. The Government has already adopted the CFS model as the basis of the quality standards for primary and secondary education in the country.

UNICEF and its sister UN agencies will collaborate further on the UN quality education initiative in 2011 by supporting the Ministry of Education to develop and pilot a Learning Achievement Tool to assess literacy and numeracy skills at grade 3, another key challenge that was discussed during the Education Review Meeting.

For more information, please contact

Misbah Sheikh
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Rwanda
Email:  msheikh@unicef.org
Mobile: +250 788 300 731

 

 
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