Thanks to the significant efforts made over the last decade by the Government of Rwanda and its partners to expand access to education throughout the country, Rwanda is one of the top-performing countries in sub-Saharan Africa in education, having achieved Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 for access to Universal Primary Education, with a net enrolment rate of 97 per cent (Ministry of Education [MINEDUC], 2014).
In terms of gender equality in education, progress towards MDG 3 has been similarly encouraging, with roughly equal numbers (1.2 million) of girls and boys enrolled at the primary level. Among populations of vulnerable children, however, equitable access is still a key issue: children with disabilities, for example, represent less than one per cent of the total number of pupils enrolled at the primary level (MINEDUC, 2014).
Moving forward into the landscape of the new Sustainable Development Goals, these impressive gains in access at the primary level now need to be matched by similar increases in access at the pre-primary level, which presently stands at only 13 per cent (MINEDUC, 2014), and significant improvements in quality and efficiency throughout the system. The overall completion rate has been declining since 2011, when it peaked at 78.6 per cent: it now stands at only 61.3 per cent (MINEDUC, 2014). The dropout rate has also increased from 10.9 per cent in 2011 to 14.3 per cent in 2013 (MINEDUC, 2014). In order to address these problems, MINEDUC, with substantial financial and technical support from UNICEF and other partners, embarked upon an ambitious programme of curriculum reform over the past two years, which culminated in the transformation of a knowledge-based approach to education (i.e., learning based largely on rote memorization) into a competencybased curriculum that extends from pre-primary through the end of upper secondary school. This shift is in line with the Second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, which seeks to transform Rwanda’s predominantly agricultural economy into a knowledge-based economy by 2020, and is intended to better equip children with the skills and competencies they need to fully participate in Rwanda’s future labour market.
UNICEF is working closely with the Government of Rwanda to implement its Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP), with a focus on three key areas: First, increasing access to education for vulnerable groups; second, improving the quality of education; and third, increasing access to quality pre-primary education. The ESSP aims to ensure equitable access to quality education for every child in Rwanda.
Facts & Figures
Primary Net Enrolment rate (2015): 96.9%
Primary Completion rate (2015): 60.4%
Pupil qualified teacher Ratio (2015): 1/62
Pre Primary Net Enrolment Rate (2015): 14.2%
Secondary Net Enrolment Rate (2012): 28.3%
Source: National Data from National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Education