24 February 2013

Rwanda: Classes for A Level Private Candidates Suspended

The Ministry of Education has suspended the operations of private coaching schools in the country, until they fulfill the necessary education requirements.

The State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Mathias Harebamungu, said the decision was reached after it was discovered that the schools operate in haphazard ways, which could compromise academic standards.

The move comes days after the Rwanda Education Board (REB) canceled results of over 570 private candidates over alleged cheating.

"These are not private candidate schools. A school has norms and standards, and they follow the law. There is also a law governing nursery, primary and secondary schools, but these don't have any requirements," Harebamungu said.

"We temporally ordered them to stop and meet REB officials to discuss how they can have the all requirements otherwise they can hurt the quality of education as they hardly follow curricula and their teaching period is limited."

According to Harebamungu, these centres started teaching in emergency period due to the history of the country.

"Now they are even teaching children who should be studying in 12 year basic education for free. They should revisit this and tell us if they will be teaching adult learners and not children and also revise their system of teaching," he stated.

He didn't say when the institutions would resume operations. The New Times has learnt that about 12 centers were affected by this directive.

Cheating schools named

Seven secondary schools were accused of colluding with centres preparing private candidates to register students privately tutored.

Emmanuel Muvunyi, the Deputy Director General in charge of examinations at Rwanda Education Board (REB), announced this following the release of A-Level results last week.

According to Muvunyi, in total, 574 candidates were caught up under the alleged scam, which he said was illegal, meaning that these candidates were automatically disqualified.

The schools are; Groupe Scolaire APERWA from Gasabo (32 candidates), Kabuga High School, Gasabo (122 candidates), Solidarity Academy from Nyarugenge (58 candidates), Nyamata High School from Bugesera (120 candidates), College de Bethel from Ruhango district (10 candidates), Gabiro High School from Gatsibo with (28 candidates) and ESSA Nyarugunga from Kicukiro with 199 candidates.

Others are Ecole Secondaire de Nyarubuye where 53 students allegedly cheated exams, APED Ngenda in Bugesera and Ecole Secondaire Kidaho.

How it happened

The centres coasching private candidates dealt with the above named schools and during the filling of the examination forms, the students who had not studied at the schools would irregularly be registered.

This is mainly done because candidates from these centres usually are not allocated examination centres, prompting owners of these institutions to affiliate them to formal schools.

To be able to register, the students were requested to pay Rwf 15,000 to these schools but, according to Muvunyi, the money was not deposited on school accounts, instead, it was taken by a group of school leaders.

He said that this tantamounts to corruption, and some cases, some desperate students paid as much as Rwf80,000 depending on the negotiations.

These private candidate schools that are common in Kigali include Club Spik, located at Saint Famille Church, Kigali Catering School, also at Saint Famille; Kigali Leading School in Remera, among others.

The discovery

The case was discovered during the exams when some students were found without full documents from schools they claimed to come from, prompting authorities to launch investigations.

"Those students were disqualified because they did not have all the necessary requirements, they were neither registered as private candidates nor did they register as formal candidates," said Muvunyi.

He said that some of them had cheated and got documents from the schools they claimed they were from such as student cards, school uniform, among others.

"All these are in contravention of the rules and regulations of national exams. It also affects the quality of education as there are minimum contact hours allocated for each subjects which are not respected in these schools," Muvunyi said.

He said that some school leaders have already fled.

"We dont recognise these so-called schools teaching private candidates. What we know is that we have examination centres that are annually designated for private candidates," he said.

However, some of the affected candidates said they did not actually know they had flouted any rules.

"I think the error of miss registration is not ours and shouldn't be a reason to nullify our results, REB would have dealt with schools. It is unfair," said one of affected candidates who only gave his name as Emmanuel. He and others had stormed REB to voice their complaints.

But Muvunyi said there is no excuse for such errors as the candidates should know rules and regulations of exams.

To be registered as a private candidate, it requires having spent at least five years after completing O'level with justification, paying 15,000 in Rwanda Revenue Authority and present to the REB staff reciepts to get a form filled by the candidates themselves.

Augustin Ntaganda, who owns a centre called APECD (Association for Promotion of Education and Community Development) said they have been coaching students since 1999, and students used to register as private candidates in centers set up by REB or the Workforce Development Authority.

"We didn't play any role in registering them in formal schools, the case may have been that the candidates dealt with heads of schools themselves," said Ntaganda.

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