The New Times (Kigali)

20 January 2013

Rwanda: Number of Absentee Candidates Down

This year has seen a drastic reduction in the number of students who didn't seat for national examinations, a major u-turn from previous years, according to the Deputy Director General of Examination and Accreditation Department of Rwanda Education Board (REB), Mr Emmanuel Muvunyi.

Muvunyi attributed the reduction to a number of reasons, one of them being retaining of students.

According to the report released by the department on Friday, several candidates missed out on examinations at both primary and ordinary levels.

The deputy Director General in charge of Quality and Standards in REB, Janvier Gasana, also faulted absenteeism by some students.

The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo was also cited for having led several students in Rubavu district to miss exams.

Gasana explained students from such areas experienced trauma which led to their missing of exams.

For some students, he says it could have been sickness that stopped them. However, for some it was because they were engaged in child labour.

He explains that there might have been lucrative jobs in the same period that students would rather do than sit exams. This could have been possible in Gicumbi, Bulera and other places that are near tea plantations.

In some cases, the parents who move in search of jobs caused the students to miss exams, Mr Gasana said, especially with the population from the northern and eastern provinces.

In some schools, Gasana added, it came to the attention of the board that some headmasters stop students who are considered weak from sitting for exams. The headmasters do this because they want to get a high score for the school. This was the case in the eastern and southern provinces.

At Ordinary Level, Nyabihu District registered the highest number of absent candidates with 147, while Nyarugege registered 38 candidates who missed their exams.

In primary, Gicumbi District registered the highest number with 904 candidates absent while Kicukiro registered 89.

Punishment

"We are working with police and other local leaders not only to sensitize the population but to also let every parent know that they are responsible for their children," Gasana said.

"Parents will be punished in accordance with the country's penal code."

The board will also investigate the said headmasters and if found that they actually stop students from sitting exams, they will write to the district mayor to replace them.

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