Today, tomorrow or soon after but obviously before September sinks, Rwandans impatiently await to hear of the new Government’s Seven-Year Programme (7YGP) which the Premier must present to the bicameral legislative house within a maximum of 30 days after assuming office as states article 119 of Rwanda’s Constitution of 2003 amended in 2015.
Prime Minister and Head of Government, Dr Edouard Ngirente, was appointed in the docket on August 30, 2017 and immediately took office the very day. Taking an example of the immediate last 7YGP, the blueprint relied on four pillars namely Good Governance, Justice, Economy and Social Well-being, all with the overall goal as to spur economic development in order to shift Rwanda from a poor country to a middle-income country, according to a document presented to the Parliament by then Prime Minister Bernard Makuza on October 13, 2010.
The 2017-2024 blueprint, a national strategy for transformation, received green light of the Cabinet on Tuesday but still remains out of the sight of the general public. However, guessers cast their expectations and people from different areas list what they think should be prioritised.
Educationists speak out
Education is one of the sectors to which every citizen attaches much importance. Indeed, almost every household has a student and the sector employees much more people than any other but it is also a sector which has seen many reforms over the years. Some people will not hesitate to blame educational inefficacies to incessant changes, saying that it lacks consistency. The overall goal of the government has always been of enhancing quality of education at all teaching levels.
Different teachers have spoken to IGIHE of what they need to see in the next seven years to help improve the quality of education, stressing on the need for comprehensive training on the current Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC), provision of good materials and teachers’ motivation.
Pierre Célestin Niwemwungeri, a teacher at GS Bihinga in Gatsibo District, says he would like to see teachers in secondary schools use ICT in all teaching processes like computers and projectors instead of chalk by 2024.
“Umwalimu Sacco should expand branches to have two sectors share one instead of having one branch for entire district. We often converge and queue there many hours which should be used in class. Their penalties on repaying credits are also choking when the salary delays yet it is not our fault,” he complains.
Marie Claudine Sugira, a teacher at GS Marie Reine Ruramba in Nyaruguru District, says students’ discipline should be tightened and, though the country’s economy may not allow to increase teachers’ remunerations, there are many ways of giving them a motivation.
“Salary and bonuses should always be remitted on time. Horizontal promotion should also be made effective to retain teachers. We need teachers’ subsidised market where we can shop at reduced prices as police and military personnel do,” says Sugira who has taught for 16 years in primary and secondary schools.
Dr. Irené Ndayambaje, PhD in Educational Planning, says the next seven years should see a number of students in classrooms of primary and secondary schools reduced to a maximum of 30, down from over 50 in some instances.
He says government should promote knowledge of English as a medium of instruction, upgrade teachers’ understanding of the curriculum, offer more motivation to teachers and increase salary as the economy grows, and avail efficient education materials including access to internet for teachers and students to do research.
“Research indicates that a big number of students in classrooms hampers teaching and learning processes because a teacher needs to evaluate every student but is impossible when the class has 40 students or more. Standards differ from country to country but a maximum of 30 students in class can be handled,” observes Dr Ndayambaje, a lecturer at University of Rwanda’s College of Education and Library Sciences (UR-CELS).
He says reading ability remains a challenge in Rwandan education because there are students who cannot even read Ikinyarwanda (local language) while a too big number do not know English language.
“Now English is a medium of instruction, how will a student understand other lessons if they do not understand a medium of instruction as a bridge to reaching the understanding of other subjects. Leave alone students, not all teachers have good knowledge of English,” he says.
Dr Ndayambaje says there is need for internal and external evaluation of the initiatives, like Umwalimu Sacco, aiming at improving teachers’ welfare to ensure that they effectively deliver to their targets, adding that thorough research is needed to inform policy-makers on issues in education and how they can be handled. He advised schools to make use of English a mandatory tool of communication throughout the school life in order to help students and staff know English better.