Over 39,000 refugees enrolled in schools across Rwanda

By Esther Muhozi
On 28 May 2024 at 03:17

The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) has announced that there are over 39,000 refugee students receiving education across various schools in the country, from early childhood education up to higher education institutions. Additionally, statistics show a 41.7% increase in refugee students attending vocational and technical schools.

The areas hosting refugee camps in Rwanda now feature structures resembling villages inhabited by citizens, contrasting with the previous use of tents.

Each camp also has schools where refugee children study alongside local children, ensuring that all receive the same level of education.

Jean Bosco Ukwibishatse, the Manager of the Mahama Camp, who has children studying at nearby schools, told IGIHE that the quality of education is good, with no visible discrimination.

“All children attend the same schools as those outside the camp, and so far, they face no obstacles up to the sixth year of secondary education. The quality of education is consistent, especially with experienced teachers,” he said.

On the other hand, some refugees have chosen to live in cities where they can work and send their children to local schools.

A report by the Ministry of Education, released on May 23, 2024, shows a general 1% increase in refugee students enrolled in Rwandan schools, with a particularly rapid increase in those attending vocational and technical schools.

In the 2021/2022 school year, there were 39,329 refugee students, and in the following year, 2022/2023, the number slightly increased to 39,728. Among these, there are 20,417 boys (51.4%) and 19,311 girls.

The majority of these students are in primary schools, totaling 23,119, while secondary school students number 11,563. In primary schools, refugee students increased by 0.2%, whereas in secondary schools, they decreased by 6.9% compared to the 2021/2022 school year when there were 12,168.

Jacqueline Muhimpundu, a refugee from Burundi living in Kigali, has four children attending primary school at APADE Kicukiro. She told IGIHE that her children are well taken care of in school and perform well, although she struggles to afford their school fees as she is also caring for orphans.

“All four children attend the same school. The eldest is well cared for by the school principal, who treats him like his own. I found them in Masaka after their father was killed in Burundi,” she said.

She highlighted that her biggest challenge is finding the money for school fees, especially for two orphans she took in after their mother was killed by her husband.

Statistics show a 41.7% increase in refugee students attending vocational and technical schools in the 2022/2023 school year, rising from 534 in 2021/22 to 757.

Regarding the types of schools these students attend, the number of refugee students in public schools increased from 24,285 in the 2021/22 school year to 25,065 in 2022/23, a 3.2% rise, while those in private schools funded by the government decreased by 3%.

Conversely, the number of refugee students in private schools decreased by 2.2%.