Rwanda: Schools Reopen After Government Lifts Lockdown

(file photo).

Learning institutions in Rwanda reopened Monday for the third term after the government lifted the 15-day lockdown on the capital Kigali and eight other districts.

The lockdown had been imposed following a spike in infections, a rise in the number of deaths and the presence of the Delta variant.

Rwanda's Ministry of Education said the reopening will enable students to complete the school calendar that was interrupted when all learning institutions were forced to close on June 29 due to a spike in coronavirus infections.

Several areas of the country are still under localised lockdowns until August 10, but education officials say they will support students and tutors in the affected districts to carry on learning.

"Local authorities will offer necessary facilitation for teachers and learners, and will make sure that learning resumes while diligently observing Covid-19 protocols," the ministry said in a notice to school administrators, teachers, learners and education partners.

"The ministry calls upon schools to observe Covid-19 preventive measures which include physical distancing, proper wearing of face masks, handwashing with clean water and soaps or use of sanitisers, and keeping windows open."

Pre-primary and lower primary level classes, being among those that reopened late when learning gradually resumed from last year's pandemic-induced prolonged school shutdown, had only completed two terms.

The third term runs from August 2 to September 17. It is the shortest in the revised school calendar as it is expected to last only 47 days.

The 2020-2021 school year calendar for upper primary and secondary levels was scheduled to end on July 10, but was prematurely halted on June 29 amid the third virus wave.

Despite closure and subsequent lockdowns, however, the government facilitated candidates in primary and secondary school final classes to sit for national examinations.

Learners in nursery and lower primary schools across the country bore the brunt of the prolonged school closure and they had not reopened until mid-January and February despite other levels reopening on November 2 last year.

According to the World Bank, at least 3.5 million students in Rwanda were out of school due to restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Learning institutions shut for at least 10 months from March 2020 and gradually reopened in November, but suffered more closures in January amid the second wave.

The ministry ordered schools to establish catch up programmes to support learners who are lagging behind.

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