6 June 2019

Rwanda: Slow Registration System Frustrates Candidates for National Exams

Photo: Frederic Byumvuhore/New Times
Students in an examination room (file photo).

Schools that are registering candidates for national exams due later this year have expressed concerns over the inefficiency of the new registration system.

The candidates being registered are those who will sit for primary leaving examinations for ordinary and advanced levels of secondary education.

According to head teachers of different schools, a May 25 deadline that had initially been given to schools by Rwanda Education Board (REB) to have submitted lists of all the candidates, elapsed before many students could be registered.

This left many schools and students in a state of dilemma and there is little hope that they will complete the process any time soon, much as registration was kept open even after the deadline elapsed.

Under the new system, schools are required to register students from their respective schools on the Irembo online platform and submit online the list to REB.

However, head teachers who spoke to The New Times said it was difficult for them to register all the candidates in time because the system is slow while the number of candidates is high.

Pastor Jerome Sikubwabo, headmaster of Groupe Scolaire Nyakayaga in Bugesera District, said that the school has so far registered only 42 per cent of the candidates who will be sitting national exams in November.

He said that due to slow internet, they are compelled to work overnight to be able to register all students.

"It's a general problem, during the day the system is jammed; we can only do something at night and even then, we only get to register up to seven students," he said.

Rukangura Mitingo, the head teacher of GS Indangamirwa in Kamonyi District said that even though they received 4G internet from REB, the system seems to be overwhelmed and slow.

Speaking to The New Times, Jean Baptiste Ndayambaje the director of education in Bugesera District, said that he suspects the problenm is linked to the fact that many people use the system at the same time.

He suggested that REB can work with Rwanda Online, the operators of Irembo platform, to see how they can give access to a certain area, say a province, on a certain day, and lock out others to make the system faster.

According to him, right now, all of them have access to the system which weighs it down and, at the end of the day, no one has been able to complete the exercise.

Irénée Ndayambaje, the Director General of REB, acknowledged the problem when contacted by The New Times, saying that they will first look at the number of students already registered vis-à-vis those who are yet to before they can decide on the way forward.

"We are going to assess the capacity of the system and the technology of Irembo to determine what needs to be done going forward," said Ndayamaje.

He stressed that they initiated this system after building smart classes and providing laptops to teachers, which they thought woukd ease the registration process.

"We need to look at it holistically; it could be the inefficiency of the system, or it could be that the head teachers did not immediately commence the registration and when deadline approached," he said.

In an email to The New Times, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Online, Faith Keza, said that they are in touch with Rwanda Education Board and that they are doing everything possible to offer good services to the students.

Prior to the introduction of the online registration, hard-copy forms were filled out by students, who submitted them to their respective schools, which then sent them to REB.

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