Recent reports have revealed that many private schools are having difficulties remaining established in Rwanda since the increased enrolment of students in public schools. Over 30 private schools have shut down this year alone, forcing proprietors to petition the government to sponsor students in private schools at public rates, a prayer the government has refused. This development is unsurprising following the implementation of precise Education Policies in the country as far back as 2002.
Education has been at the fore front of Rwanda’s Development Policies after post-conflict issues. In 2002 the Ministry of Education implemented the ‘Catch Up’ Program for post-1994 orphans as well as vulnerable children and adolescents who had been deprived of proper education. In 2003, The Education Sector Policy took a wider approach and abolished the 300 RwF school fee replacing it with an equivalent capitation grant in-order to create accessible education to girl, boy, woman and man. This increased enrolment, reduced drop-out rates and paved the smooth entrance of the Nine Year Basic Education Programme (9YBEP) of 2009.
The 2009 9YBE was a major success considering the cost effective method adopted by the government. Secondary Schools were constructed using local labour and materials, supplemented by government purchases of non-local materials which resulted in a savings of an estimated USD49 million. Schools were constructed closer to communities to reduce transportation time and drop-out rates. The number of required subjects was reduced from 11 to 5, thus generating more instructional time. English was also substituted for Kinyarwanda as the medium for instruction from Primary 4 upwards. Other major components of the policy includes; Increased Teacher recruitment, training and deployment and encouragement of Teacher specialization.
In 2009, the Twelve Year Basic Education program (12YBE) was introduced to grow post-secondary education. According to the 2015 review by the Ministry of Education, Rwanda, the Education Sector Strategic Plan 2013/14-2017/18 expects to achieve the following through 12YBE:
(a) Expanding access to upper secondary (general academic, teacher training and demand-driven Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) ) based on equitable access to fee-free and compulsory primary and lower secondary education.
(b) Increased equitable access for students with special education needs at all levels.
(c) Improved quality and learning outcomes across secondary levels.
(d) Qualified, skilled and motivated secondary teachers and TVET instructors.
(e) TVET competency-based curriculum linked to labour market requirements.
(f) Public-Private Partnerships to expand secondary and post-secondary education.
(g) Strengthened performance in science, technology and innovation at all levels.
(h) Improved administrative and management support (policy, information, finance, human resources, etc.) for 12YBE
These Education Policies and the dedication shown by the Rwandan government in implementing them are the major reasons for the rise of public schooling in Rwanda. It is a strategy worth considering by all other African countries hoping to alleviate poverty and sustain development.