Rwanda: New Law to Address Legal Vacuum in TVET Education

23 October 2020

A new draft law governing education in Rwanda is proposing among other provisions, to close the legal vacuum facing Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) establishments, which was left by the current legislation.

While explaining the relevance of the bill before Parliament on Friday, October 23, 2020, the Minister of Education, Valentine Uwamariya told lawmakers that lack of TVET coverage in the existing legislation was one of the challenges to the success of TVET progamme.

The minister said that there were gaps in the current legislation that needed to be filled, citing Rwanda's target to have 60 percent of students learning TVET courses under the first phase of the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) [which runs from 2018 to 2024]," yet there are no legal provisions on how to implement that.

"Lack of TVET coverage in the legislation was a huge gap, which is contradicting the Government's seven-year programme that seeks to have 60 percent of students enrolled into TVET," she said.

"There was no law that governs how that has to be done, and the support that will be provided to enable the attainment of such a target," she indicated.

She explained that the bill seeks to address such a gap and the mentality that a child who studies TVET had failed other courses or had poor performance, pointing out that some students with excellent performance were not joining TVET because of such mindset.

This draft law governing education in Rwanda - which is made up of 115 articles - will create harmony of three different laws and resolve the problem of technical and vocational schools that are not governed by any law.

The merged laws include the law of 2012 establishing the organisation and functioning of nursery, primary and secondary schools, the law of 2017 governing organisation and functioning of Higher Education, and the 2018 law determining the organization.

Specifically, the law of 2012 law has been applicable to nursery, primary and secondary schools of general education and thus, left out technical and vocational schools commonly called VTC and TSS.

The minister concurred with some lawmakers that there is still a mindset among Rwandans that TVET courses are for students who lack ability to study other courses. But, she said that should not be the case.

She pointed that TVET skills are relevant in different aspects of life, indicating that those with such skills are needed for the construction of houses, effective car repair, and infrastructures such as roads.

MP Jean Damascène Murara said that the Ministry of Education has had too many changes in education programmes, which suggests a lack of academic stability.

"We think this bill is going to bring hope among Rwandans that there will be consistence in the education system," he said, adding that the views of different education sector stakeholders such as parents and teachers should be considered during the scrutiny of the bill by the responsible parliamentary committee.

Automatic promotion

Among other provisions of the bill, there is abolishing promotion of students to a higher class [level] without merit or good performance - automatic promotion.

MPs said welcomed the move saying it will help improve the quality of education, but said that there is a need to devise effective strategies to ensure that students get adequate support for them to understand lessons and be successful.

The MPs also reiterated the need to take care of teachers' welfare through increased salary and other incentives so that they give priority to provision of quality education.

"As Rwanda targets to be a knowledge-based economy, we should be at a level where being a teacher is a profession which is more sought after than any other jobs by every Rwandan," said MP Théogène Munyangeyo as he referred to taking into account improvement of teachers' welfare.

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