Maintaining high-quality education standards is a paramount concern in Rwanda, prompting regular inspections of both new and established schools. Schools that meet the necessary requirements are granted a license, typically valid for three years.
Key aspects considered during inspections include school infrastructure, such as a minimum of three classrooms for nursery schools and six classrooms for primary schools. Additionally, schools are required to possess adequate didactic materials to support both students and teachers in delivering a quality curriculum.
Vianney Augustine Kavutse, the Head of the Department for Basic Education and TVET Quality Assurance, emphasized that the welfare of learners is a primary focus during inspections.
Consequently, schools that fall short of these standards are temporarily suspended from offering education. Kavutse explained, "When we identify schools with significant deficiencies, we grant them one year to rectify these issues to enhance the quality of education. If a subsequent assessment confirms that the problems have been addressed, we may extend their license for two or three years."
He further added, "In situations where alternatives would adversely affect children, such as the closure of schools with aging infrastructures, we prioritize the interests of the learners above all else."
According to NESA data, out of the 85 nursery schools inspected from January to June 2022, only 65 were permitted to continue their operations, while 20 were denied licenses due to their failure to meet the necessary requirements. In addition to these, nine secondary schools that had applied for the introduction of advanced level science programs were also denied licenses for not meeting the stipulated standards.
Private schools faced challenges as well, with six of them being denied permission to place students who had passed national examinations, while 17 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools encountered similar issues.
Kavutse explained the process for schools grappling with such problems, stating, "Schools facing these challenges are restricted from enrolling new students and are given a year to make the necessary improvements. We cannot abruptly halt their operations; hence, we grant them a one-year grace period. During this time, we liaise with the district authorities to arrange alternatives for affected students or assist in resolving the issues."
If schools successfully address these concerns, they are allowed to resume operations after the one-year grace period.
It’s worth noting that such issues are primarily reported among private schools and often lead teachers to seek employment opportunities in other institutions upon the suspension of their school’s operations.
NESA emphasizes the importance of timely planning for the establishment of new schools. Those intending to create schools must submit their license applications no later than May to allow sufficient time for inspections.
This enables authorities to determine whether the school can commence operations in the upcoming academic year.
Between June and September 2022, NESA conducted inspections on a total of 178 schools, including eight offering nursing courses, 40 TVET schools, and 138 primary schools.