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UNICEF Commends Progress in Access to Education in Rwanda

Stresses Need to Address Equity and Quality Issues

Kigali, Rwanda, September 16, 2011 At the opening yesterday of the joint review of the education sector, UNICEF, speaking on behalf of all development partners, called for a greater focus on quality and equity to ensure that all Rwandan girls and boys access and complete a quality education.

"Even in this climate of competing demands on the allocation of scarce resources," said Deguene Fall, UNICEF’s Officer in Charge, "we must not compromise spending on quality education and ensuring equitable learning outcomes for all children, including those from poor families and those with special needs and learning difficulties."

Rwanda has made tremendous progress in increasing access to education in the past decade. Primary school enrolment rates are over 95% and last year alone, local communities, police, army, the Ministry of Education and development partners constructed nearly 3,000 classrooms and more than five thousand latrines, as part of the strategy to provide a full nine year basic education for all children in Rwanda. Most impressively, the construction efforts adhered to quality national infrastructure guidelines to ensure that only child-friendly classrooms and sanitation facilities were provided to schools.

These and other efforts have supported a continued rise in primary completion rates, which have now surpassed 80% for girls, along with greatly improved transition rates and enrolment rates, especially at lower secondary. In addition, much progress has been made in “decentralising” textbook procurement so that schools can choose the quantity and type of textbooks and reading materials they require, as well as putting in place a Monitoring of Learning Achievement (MLA) system, which measures learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy.

But challenges remain. Most primary schools practice double shifting, which presents several challenges in terms of contact time between teacher and student and impacts on the ability of teachers to satisfactorily cover the entire curriculum. The qualified teacher/pupil ratio at the primary level is quite high at 58:1 and is at 49:1 at the secondary level. Teaching methods still need to be more learner-centred in order to maximize learning outcomes and more investment is required to ensure that all teachers are fully proficient in English, one of the official languages of the country.



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