Rwanda: Data Management System to Expedite School Feeding Support

A school data management system that has started being used in public and private schools is expected to address the issue of delays in disbursement of the Government financial support to schools, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning has said.

Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana made the disclosure on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 while appearing before the plenary sitting of the Parliament's Chamber of Deputies to explain why there have been arrears in capitation grant as well as school feeding assistance to schools.

The Minister told parliamentarians that the Government will, in this fiscal year 2020/2021, clear over 1.2 billion arrears it owes to schools in terms of capitation grant and school feeding support.

Ndagijimana said that the online system, which was set up in the financial year 2019/2020, was developed by ICT experts at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

He explained that it is a strategy devised to address the problem of delays that result in such arrears.

The system, he said, was developed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in partnership with the Ministry of Education, as well as the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda in line with improving education planning based on accurate data and the advancing public finance management in schools.

He added that it will help in the management of students, teachers, school infrastructures, as well as accounting.

"Currently, all the schools in the country use this system in registering students, promotion of students from one level to another, such that all the information about each student is available in the system," he said.

Capitation grants and school feeding support in primary and secondary schools are allocated based on the number of students, meaning that a school with a larger number of students receives more than that with a smaller number.

"The student figures in the system are based on while requesting capitation grant and school feeding support which has significantly reduced the time that was spent on producing the statistics of students as well as the time that it took to provide the funding to schools.

In March 2019, the parliamentary standing committee on national budget and patrimony made countrywide field visits to assess the level of execution of the 2018/2019 national budget.

One of the issues that it identified in districts is arrears related to the capitation grant and school feeding since 2015/2016.

Lawmakers said that this problem can affect the quality of education as it leaves schools grappling with lack of resources.

They asked the Minister of Finance to indicate the amount overdue in question when it will be settled and strategies in place to ensure timely disbursement of the grants to schools.

Minister Ndagijimana said that after discussing the issue with the Ministry of Education, the two ministries agreed that there should be an assessment in every district so that each school indicates money it owes to its contractors or suppliers for the offered services or goods as a result of capitation grant or school feeding arrears.

He pointed out that such exercise was done in line with supporting the schools to pay the amount due.

He said that the Ministry of Education conducted an assessment that found that since 2011/2012 to 2018/2019, there were an outstanding amount of more than Rwf1.2 billion which included Rwf634 million for capitation grant, and Rwf599 million for school feeding support in all districts.

"Those arrears will be settled in the financial year 2020/2021," he said.

The delays in providing the support, he said, were largely due to time it took to confirm the number of students which is based on to allocate the financial support to schools, pointing out that it generally took between two to three months to approve the student number.

He said that statistics about students were first prepared by the school management, and then evaluated by sector education officers, who sent it to the district education officers who submitted them to the Ministry of Education for confirmation. Later, the Ministry of Education sent back the student list to districts to prepare the payment.

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