9 January 2013

Rwanda: Take Action Against Substandard Schools


Quality education is indispensable in human development. This holds even more true for countries like Rwanda which have made a conscious choice to make their human capital the ultimate vehicle to sustainable development.

For the past 18 years, the Government of Rwanda has made giant strides in improving the education sector in as many aspects, and the results speak for themselves.

And, considering the sensitivity of this sector it is understandable that efforts to ensure that our education is competitive will remain work-in-progress.

Nonetheless, given the central role of education in the country's development, no effort should be spared in ensuring that service providers meet the minimum standards, especially with regard to quality.

In the past, the Government has rightly closed schools for falling short of these expectations, with some only reopening after making the necessary adjustments.

This week, however, it emerged that substandard schools may still be in our midst. Yesterday, this newspaper reported that the Fund for Support to Genocide Survivors (FARG) recently transferred over 500 students it sponsors from three secondary schools, citing poor education standards, among others.

These schools, one of them based in the City of Kigali, were faulted for failing to provide quality education and meals.

However, while FARG rightly transferred the students it sponsored to other schools, the schools in question remain operational. This means that students that remain there and others that will join later will continue to receive substandard education and endure poor living conditions - if nothing is done to reverse the trend.

These schools and others like them should urgently be assessed to determine whether they are suitable to continue serving as learning institutions or if they need to be suspended until the owners have put in place a conduncive learning environment, with qualified and sufficient teaching staff, and necessary training equipment.

Inspecting schools should be a regular practice and this should not just be left to local governments; the Ministry of Education should be able to closely monitor what's happening from time to time.

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