Rwanda: Is the Competency-Based Curriculum to Blame for the Drop in Student Pass-Rate?

Photo: New Times
Students in class (file photo).

Lack of sufficient learning material in schools is holding back the successful implementation of the competency-based curriculum, students and teachers have said.

The Ministry of Education initiated the competency-based curriculum in 2015 to support the country's strategy to develop a knowledge-based society and bolster the competitiveness of Rwandans in the regional and global job market.

However, despite the reforms, the student pass-rate in the national exams dropped in 2018 compared to the year before, raising concerns among the students and teachers about the effectiveness of the new curriculum in improving the quality of education.

Enock Niyonkuru, a high-level graduate from College Saint André, Nyamirambo, says that while competency-based is a good curriculum, the lack of enough resources such as textbooks and laptops could undermine its success.

He added that that limited resources were constraining the ability of the students to carry out research.

For instance, the pass-rate in last year's S.6 national exams dropped by 1.3 per cent compared to the previous year. In S.3, it dropped by 6.6 per cent and 5.2 per cent in P.6.

2018 marked the first time students were being examined under the competency-based curriculum.

Gilbert Nuwagaba, a teacher at Maranyundo Secondary School, says that; "I cannot attribute the drop in the pass-rate entirely to the new curriculum."

"I observed that some content is too hard for certain levels to comprehend. An example is the S.1 literature course. The work is hard for some students ... yet students have a short time to cover the syllabus."

According to the State Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, over the past three years the pass-rate has demonstrated mixed results.

Munyakazi says that the 88.2 per cent pass-rate is a good step forward.

Irénée Ndayambaje, the director-general of Rwanda Education Board, said; "people should not worry about the competency-based implementation because it would be early for a valid conclusion, this being the first year students and their teachers should be optimistic about this new curriculum because I think it is a good start."

Meanwhile, different people have been criticising the new curriculum, with complaints that they are not seeing any positive yield from the competency-based curriculum.

Government officials have pledged to increase access to learning material, improve the education infrastructure as well as training more teachers as they seek to fix the issues holding back the smooth implementation of the new curriculum.

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