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Education in Rwanda - An Overview

The education system in Rwanda offers nine years of basic education. The basic education in Rwanda serves the purpose to enforce the level of general knowledge, decelerate the drop out rates and number of students failing in a various grade.  The post-primary education in Rwanda targets at technical training. As Rwanda adopted new constitution, new education arrangements also came into force, that’s why it is supposed that the new system will considerably replace the drop out rates from primary schools.  Also the time spent by candidates in General Secondary education will increase.

The plan for education is based on the strategy of the government in its poverty reduction program and on the role to be played by education in the improvement of the welfare of the population.  The education plan of the Rwanda government is also in compliance with the United Nations Declarations and Millennium Goals Objectives, which put emphasis on the significance of Universal Primary Education for all and the alteration of gender-based disparities, in particular.

The Ministry of Education is working to make sure that The Government of Rwanda Policy of universal primary schooling shall be achieved by 2010 and there shall be education for all by 2015 as stated in the MDGs and the Dakar agreements. The government has adopted a policy of free primary education under which no school fees is charged, the school fees is replaced by a capitation grant, which has increased to 2,500FRw (USD4.50) in 2006.  Though there are shortages of funds for school funding and hence government invite parents to contribute towards educational funds. Non-fee barriers to primary education also remain and are thought to have some effect on access to education (for example, the cost of school uniforms and learning materials).

Providing education to girls is also on the priority of the government, and so as to work towards gender development, which is a key component in improving economic and social well-being. The Government is full aware that investing in Girl’s education contributes to the achievement of critical social objectives like decreased fertility and infant mortality, increased child health and improved productivity.

Rwanda education system follows multilingualism. Instruction is provided in the mother tongue Kinyarwanda. The mother tongue as a subject of study is also taught right from start. Besides Rwanda has included French and English from 4th grade in the curriculum. Instruction in other subjects is also provided in these languages.

The Rwanda government has identified the importance of science and technology education and hence expects from educators and students both to think critically and analytically. As part of primary school education students are taught to observe environments surrounding them. Students are also encouraged to handle different objects and do possible experiments. A course entitled “Science and Elementary Technology” was recently incorporated in the curriculum. But the major drawbacks are well-qualified teacher in science and technology related disciplines and laboratory equipment.

At secondary level, subjects like biology, chemistry, and physics are taught. Low enrollment particularly in science subjects at secondary level is a matter of worry for the government. Out of 64936 students in the second cycle of secondary education, only 13282 are in science streams and of these girls account for only 4138. Girls’ enrollment in science and technology is still much lower because of gender stereotyping.

There are requirements for establishing lucid and physical incentives to Science, Mathematics and Technology subject teachers and students at all levels especially girls. Education at territory level is also a worry. The education in Information and Communication Technology is in the seeding phase in Rwanda. The government is striving hard to provide education to all by 2015.

KIST and the National University started using the new tools of ICT for distance learning using the African Virtual University (AVU) and KIE has started distance learning for secondary school teachers. The major bottleneck remains the lack of access to electric power, equipment and trained teachers, and lack of awareness of ICT.

Earlier the education for children with special needs in Rwanda was provided through special schools administered by charitable organizations with limited support from government in terms of resources and teachers. Under millennium development program, government has the goal to strengthen all education including education for children with special needs. Teaching on HIV / AIDS is also included the curriculum.

In Higher Institutions students are taught about HIV/AIDS during their induction, and some limited counseling facilities exist in some of the Institutions. The teaching of HIV/AIDS in schools (primary, secondary and tertiary levels) shall take account of gender differences.

Primary school education from grade 1 to 3 is provided in Kinyarwanda language. In years 4 to 6 this becomes English or French. In the year 2002 – 03, there were 2172 school in which 1 636 536 students were studying. In the year 2005 – 06 there were 405 schools for providing secondary education, 179 153 students were enrolled in these schools.

Providing higher education is the responsibility of university institutions. Rwanda has both types of institutions i.e. public and private.  In 1997/98 Rwanda had a total of 5,571 students in higher education. Today this stands at 26,796, 39% of students are female. In Rwanda, a system of 'universites du soir' (Night School University) has been established to widen access to university.  In 2000/01 final year students were graduating with a success rate of between 11 and 50%. Over all years this success rate is 53 to 76%.
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