Only 4% of teachers in Rwanda have adequate English proficiency

By Esther Muhozi
On 6 March 2024 at 01:55

The report on efforts to enhance the quality of education in Rwanda reveals that only 4% of teachers possess adequate proficiency in English, the language used for instruction.

Teacher knowledge and skills play a significant role in improving student outcomes in schools, and the Rwandan education authorities have outlined various strategies to enhance the abilities of teachers currently employed.

The report details planned programs for improving the quality of education that Rwanda will undertake with various partners from 2023 to 2027. It indicates that one in three new teachers entering the profession lacks the capacity to teach foundational literacy and numeracy skills, including reading, writing, and arithmetic.

A World Bank report from 2018 highlighted the critical need for English language training for teachers, noting that only 38% of those teaching from the first to the third grade had sufficient English proficiency.

A document published by the Ministry of Education on February 26, 2024, states that "Only 4% of the existing teaching staff have intermediate to advanced knowledge of English, which is the language used for teaching."

The Ministry of Education notes that among the planned initiatives are those aimed at improving teacher skills, particularly in knowledge and in the English language.
Many are trained in English

In 2008, a decision was made to change the language of instruction from French to English.

In 2011, teaching in English was confirmed to start from the fourth grade of primary school, with the first three years being taught in Kinyarwanda. However, this changed again in 2019, reinstating the program to teach in English from the first year of primary school.

Since the initiation of this program, there have been efforts to train teachers in the English language as a way to improve the quality of education.

For instance, in July 2020, UNICEF provided MINEDUC with a grant to implement education programs, including $2 million dedicated to teacher training in curriculum areas focusing on teaching and speaking English well, and on inclusive education, which will continue until June 2024.

Additionally, in 2015, the UK provided £88.1 million in aid aimed at improving the teaching of English and mathematics in all grades of primary schools until 2023.

In the public schools, particularly those in rural areas, the challenge of speaking English among both students and teachers remains significant. However, analysis conducted by the National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA) shows an increase in the passing rates of students in national examinations.

The statistics reveal that in 2019, the passing rate for primary school students in the national examination was 78.42%, which increased to 92.14% in 2022. However, there was a slight decline in the passing rate in 2022, dropping to 90.65%.

To address these challenges, there are ongoing teacher training programs for those currently in service, alongside efforts to enhance teacher training institutions and make them more accessible. This aims to ensure schools have staff with the desired capabilities.

In the public schools, particularly those in rural areas, the challenge of speaking English among both students and teachers remains significant.