Alarming statistics on education in Rwanda

By Esther Muhozi
On 22 April 2024 at 12:51

Education is the cradle supporting the livelihood of the world’s population, nurturing capable workers who will deliver desired outcomes.

However, statistics show that Rwanda still has a long way to go, as a child may spend an average of 6.9 years in school but only show the equivalent of 3.9 years of learning.

World Bank Human Capital Index

A World Bank report on human capital—knowledge and skills relevant to the labor market—highlights the measures countries take to prepare their citizens through education and health, aiming for them to enter the job market successfully.

The report underscores the need for substantial investment to ensure a child born today grows up with adequate resources to be productive.

It reveals that a child born in 2020 globally has a 56% chance of becoming productive in adulthood if given quality education and health. In Rwanda, a child provided with high-level education and health is predicted to have a 38% chance of productivity.

Education Progress and Challenges in Rwanda

Statistics show that in 2018, a child starting school at four in Rwanda was expected to spend 6.6 years in education, rising to 6.9 years by 2020, completing their studies before turning 18.

This situation is influenced by high enrollment rates in primary education, reaching 135%, while only 46% transition to secondary education, with numbers declining as students progress through the system.

Enrollment rates for primary school stand at 94%, with 76% completing the level. However, the dropout rate, especially among boys, is significant at 62.6%.

World Bank metrics from 2018 indicate that a student would have effectively received 3.8 years of education out of 6.6 years spent in school. By 2020, this had slightly improved to 3.9 years out of 6.9.

These figures suggest that despite attendance and teaching efforts, the actual educational process is not being executed as it should be.

Observations and Reforms

This gap is attributed to the recent introduction of nursery schools and the recruitment of many non-professional educators who have not been adequately trained. This lack of quality training means it takes longer for a new teacher to reach the desired level of teaching proficiency.

Emma Rubagumya Furaha, President of the Commission for Education, Technology, Youth, and Culture, has pointed out that educational outcomes are unsatisfactorily low despite reforms that should have improved them.

He noted, "Metrics related to school dropouts, repetitions, and the basic skills in reading, arithmetic, or English are concerning. When you reduce classroom overcrowding and the student-to-teacher ratio, educational outcomes should improve significantly."

Improvements and Future Prospects

Between the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 school years, dropout rates decreased from 10.3% to 9.2%, and repetition rates increased from 8.3% to 14.3%.

On April 18, 2024, Prime Minister Dr. Edouard Ngirente told the Legislative Assembly that the educational reforms are aimed at addressing these issues and should show positive changes within a few years.

He confirmed, "The first group of students who have gone through these new reforms are just now finishing their fifth year of secondary school. They have not yet entered the workforce or university to assess the full impact of these reforms."

Currently, 132 teachers from Zimbabwe are assisting in Rwanda’s 16 teacher training schools, as part of these educational reforms.


Stunting remains a significant issue, with 33% of children under five in Rwanda affected, severely impacting their learning capabilities. The national school feeding program, launched in 2020 from preschool through secondary education, aims to combat stunting and has shown success in bringing children back to school and enhancing their learning.

Statistics show that Rwanda still has a long way to go to advance education.