|Ministry of Education|
|Ministers and Ministers of State|
|National education budget (2020/2021)|
|Budget||492 billion RWF|
|Primary languages||English, French|
|‡ Includes Elementary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.|
Education in Rwanda has undergone considerable changes throughout Rwanda's recent history, and has faced major disruptions due to periods of conflict. Education was divided by gender whereby women and men had a different education relevant to their responsibilities in day-to-day life. Women were mostly taught housekeeping while men were mainly taught how to hunt, raise animals, and fish. This is because Rwanda was a community-based society where every member had a specific contribution to the overall development of the community. Older family members like grandparents usually took on the role of educators.
Despite improvements to education and literacy as part of the country's rebuilding after the 1994 genocide, the education system still faces challenges including low school enrolment rates and limited resources. The education system is overseen by the Ministry of Education.
The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) finds that Rwanda is fulfilling only 73.1 percent of what it should be fulfilling for the right to education based on the country's level of income. HRMI breaks down the right to education by looking at the rights to both primary education and secondary education. While taking into consideration Rwanda's income level, the nation is achieving 94.7 percent of what should be possible based on its resources (income) for primary education but only 51.6% for secondary education.
In Rwanda, education was informal and delivered largely through the family. Training was also delivered through Amatorero training schools. These courses included the military and war skills, iron smith and foundry, poetry, basket making.
Belgium created a plan to provide elementary school to as many children as possible from World War I to World War II, under a League of Nations mandate. The majority of schools were run by religious organisations and received government support if they followed the Belgian curriculum and other rules. A Belgian census of 1933 led to the measurement and the classification of the population along racial and ethnic lines. Tutsis were given access to the best education at the prestigious Astrida Secondary School and groomed for colonial administrative jobs, ethnic tensions grew as a result. Hutus were often used as forced labor and many migrated to surrounding countries. The tensions grew up until 1959 when civil war broke out and many Tutsis were killed. Others went into exile.
After Rwanda's independence, the focus was on restructuring of the education system and the development of a national curriculum. The main goal was to reach more Rwandan children and in particular to improve access to schooling in rural areas. A national curriculum and double shifting were introduced in 1966. From 1977 on, primary school was eight years of education in Kinyarwanda, while three years of post-primary and secondary education were taught in French.
Post-genocide years focused on human capital rebuilding and increasing enrolment rates. 1996 saw the introduction of 6-year primary, 3-year lower secondary, and 3-year upper secondary education, where Kinyarwanda was the language of teaching up to 6-year primary, whereas lower and upper secondary, which changed to French and English.
In 2006, The 4th Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP 2006–2010) introduced fee-free schooling for 9YBE - 9 Year Basic Education - including primary and lower secondary. While enrolment rates have gone up, school related costs remain a barrier for many.
In 2008, in an effort to stimulate Rwanda's integration with the East African Community (EAC), English was adopted as the national teaching language, and only the first three years of primary are still taught in Kinyarwanda.
Several new authorities were created:
Since 2012, under the new Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP 2013–2015), focus has shifted from increasing 9YBE access and enrollment to improving quality and relevance of schooling as well as increasing access to secondary level schooling with the introduction of the 12 Year Basic Education (12YBE) policy, making schooling fee-free up to upper secondary.
See also: Ministry of Education (Rwanda)
As at 2023[update], Dr Valentine Uwamariya is the Minister of Education; she replaced Dr Eugene Mutimura in 2020. The Ministry's website details it responsibilities, functions and key personnel; it provides a mission statement saying:
The general mission of the Ministry of Education shall be to transform the Rwandan citizen into skilled human capital for socio-economic development of the country by ensuring equitable access to quality education focusing on combating illiteracy, promotion of science and technology, critical thinking and positive values.— Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) website (2023)
Education accounts for fifteen percent of the national budget, of which 9.5 percent is allotted to Higher education.
In 2003 the state's total expenditure on education was 48 billion Rwandan Francs (£48.6 million or $86m).
Between 1996 and 2001 total public spending rose from 3.2 percent to 5.5 percent. However much of this was channeled into Secondary and Tertiary education at the expense of Primary education.
The following bodies oversee educational standards, having responsibility for the specific areas shown.
|Division of Construction and Equipment:||Sets standards for classroom/school construction.|
|National Examination Council:||Sets standards for grades and progression to the next stage of education.|
|Department of Planning:||Sets and monitors standards on system performance indicators.|
|General Inspectorate of Education:||Inspects and advises on standards adherence and compliance.|
The Rwandan government has formed a national strategy for information and communications technology (ICT). This is co-ordinated by the Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA) which was designed to serve as the national body to support the development and the implementation of the National Information and Communications Infrastructure in the public and private sectors.
The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) is active in promoting the use of ICT in schools and is co-ordinating the One Laptop Per Child project in the country.
Although there is a shortage of ICT skills and technical support at the present time, ICT education is extending from tertiary institutions to all primary and secondary schools. This training is already paying dividends, with many students now being offered well paid (by local standards) part-time work. Rwanda could attract business through the bilingual French and English skills many locals have.
The Rwanda Education Commons (REC) is a four-year program funded by USAID to promote the effective use of ICTs in education. Since REC opened its office within MINEDUC in January 2009, it has worked to expand teachers' access to quality resources, to connect educators with each other, and to inspire and empower teachers. REC has a record of achieving its goals and a reputation as a practical and effective partner in assisting Rwanda to achieve its ICT in education goals. REC designed an education online platform www.educationcommons.rw This online community includes a digital library of high-quality resources aligned to the curriculum, discussion boards, social networking tools, and informational areas. More than 1,630 teachers have registered for the portal and they are regularly using it.
Some students have been studying through the African Virtual University which is allowing students to learn online while being taught by lecturers from other countries.
In October 2006, the NEPAD e-Africa Commission launched a project to further develop ICT in Rwandan schools. The project will link up schools across Africa, including primary and secondary levels, and is intended to grow; eventually it will incorporate all Rwandan secondary schools.
Two institutions are heavily involved in ICT education - KIST (Kigali Institute of Science and Technology) and KIE (Kigali Institute of Education).
Since 2005, KIE has been involved in an ICT in education initiative as part of the larger EdQual project, funded by the UK Department for International Development DfID and involving four African partner countries. The EdQual initiative in Rwanda has been working with teachers in twelve primary and secondary schools in Rwanda. Through a programme of workshops and activities in schools, teachers have been developing their own ICT skills and using ICT to support teaching and learning of science and mathematics. Another small-scale EdQual project study has compared NEPAD e-Schools in Rwanda and Kenya.
In 2021, the Government of Rwanda launched the Rwanda Education Quality Improvement Program RwandaEQUIP. designed to increase the use of technology in education as a means to improve teaching and learning within the classroom. The program is currently deployed in 250 public primary schools with a plan to scale up to 761 public primary schools.
The country's literacy rate, defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write, was 71 percent in 2009, up from 38 percent in 1978 and 58 percent in 1991.
The level of education one has is often seen as a form of capital accumulation which helps in countries' development. In Rwanda, the government implemented policies over the years to ensure there is a high literacy rate among the population. As of 2004–2008, 77 percent of males and females are literate, which is a relatively high percentage, however, those who continue into secondary schooling stands at a low 31 percent. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) can be seen as partially successful in getting the young to receive schooling.
The education level, in Rwanda, remains low despite implementation of the policies such as mandatory education for primary school (six years) and lower secondary schooling (three years) that is run by state schools. The children are not required to pay school fees for the mandatory schooling. A Rwandan is expected to complete an average of 10.6 years of education. However, the mean number of years that a Rwandan spends on education is 3.3 years, which is lower than the expectation. It is also lower than the average years of schooling in developed countries and Sub-Saharan Africa, which are 10.0 years and 4.5 years respectively. Based on the 2010 Human Development Index (HDI) report, Rwanda is ranked at 152 out of a total of 169 countries under the 'Low Human Development' category.
The number of Rwandans admitted into schools has increased between 2001 and 2008, but the facilities and resources have not increased at the same rate. Enrollment in primary school almost doubled over the decade, with an average annual growth rate of 5.4 percent between 1998 and 2009, to reach almost 2.2 million students in 2008. However, enrollment growth slowed in 2007-2008 with a total increase of only 40,000 students, compared to an increase of 160,000 students in 2005/06. Surprisingly, no significant increase is apparent following the implementation of the fee-free primary education policy in 2003/04, implying that factors other than school fees play a role in the decision to send a child to school. In 2008, around 71 primary level pupils are taught in a single classroom and within the secondary school level for Rwandans, around five students shared one textbook on average. An average primary school teacher has to handle around 62 students as the class size increases at a faster rate as compared to the number of teachers employed. The schools in the more remote rural areas also find it tough to attract teachers. The constraints are aggravated by the fact that supplementary reading materials were inadequate, particularly for the lower primary school grades.
These factors result in discrepancies in pupil to textbook ratios between schools and within districts. This goes to show that there is still a challenge in terms of access and high-quality textbooks in Rwanda which are expected to be addressed in upcoming plans.
About forty percent of the teacher's population in Rwanda have less than five years of teaching experience. The number of teachers who are qualified in the primary school have increased to 99 percent in 2008, however, the number of teachers who are qualified in the secondary school are only 36 percent and 33 percent for lower and upper secondary respectively. This means that Rwanda is not able to produce a highly skilled workforce, especially when considering the large proportion of teachers who are not qualified to teach the secondary school pupils.
Most teachers felt that they have been poorly paid. As a result, only ten percent of the total teacher respondents have undergone qualification upgrading to attain higher qualifications for teaching in Rwanda. Most of the secondary school teachers are studying for a higher qualification that is not for teaching. This shows that the incentive for further education is low and there are other jobs that have a higher benefit as compared to teaching in Rwanda. Overall, the lack of quality in the education system, such as the standards of the teachers, lack of facilities and resources makes schooling unattractive.
The language used for teaching in the first three years of primary education is Kinyarwanda. In the fourth through sixth years, this becomes English.
French, the language of instruction before Paul Kagame's accession to power, was officially replaced in schools by English.[when?] However, French classes were reintroduced weekly in primary schools, since 2016.
Statistics since 2003:
|# of Schools||2,172||2,370||2,543||2,752|
|# of Pupils||1,636,563||2,150,430||2,341,146||2,450,705|
|# of Teachers||26,024||31,037||40,299||42,005|
|% of Qualified Teachers||85.2%||98.1%||98.6%||93.9%|
|Pupils per teacher||62.9||69.3||58.1||58.3|
|Gross enrolment ratio (GER)||100.0%||151.9%||127.3%||135.3%|
|Net enrolment rate (NER)||82.7%||95.8%||95.9%||96.9%|
Despite some major achievements in Rwanda's attempts to achieve universal primary education, it currently has one of the worst repetition rates in the sub-saharan region.
At the end of primary schooling, students take the Primary Leaving Certificate (PLE).
The teaching language is English.
Statistics, since 2007:
|# of Schools||643||1,362||1,543|
|# of Pupils||266,518||486,437||543,936|
|# of Teachers||12,103||20,522||27,644|
|% of Qualified Teachers||53.4%||64.4%||67.9%|
|Pupils per teacher||22.0||23.7||19.7|
|Gross enrolment ratio (GER)||20.5%||35.5%||38.0%|
|Net enrolment rate (NER)||13.1%||25.7%||28.3%|
Secondary schooling is divided in Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary, both lasting three years. Lower Secondary, like primary, focuses on acquiring basic knowledge and skills. Together with primary, it constitutes 9YBE – 9 Year Basic Education. At the end of these three years, students take O-Level national examinations which allows them to progress Upper Secondary public schools. Many also continue into the TVET system - Technical and Vocation Education and Training.
Starting from Upper Secondary, students enter specific tracks:
Number of students and gender balance in 2015:
|# of students||% Female|
|Upper Secondary - General (GSS)||131,267||55.0%|
|Upper Secondary - Technical (TSS)||67,456||44.7%|
|Upper Secondary - Teacher (TTC)||8,771||55.8%|
By 2016, there were 45 tertiary education institutions in Rwanda, ten of them public and 35 private. The first university in Rwanda, the National University of Rwanda (NUR now part of University of Rwanda), was opened by the government in 1963, with 49 students. By the 1999–2000 academic year, this had risen to 4,550. In 1997-1998 Rwanda had a total of 5,571 students enrolled in higher education. Today this stands at 26,796, of which 39 percent are female.
Throughout the higher education system, some hundred PhDs are held, the bulk of them at NUR. Areas of research include agriculture, livestock, and the training of farm managers. A system of universités du soir (night school universities) has been established to widen access to university. However, there has been some debate over the quality of the courses offered.
Rwanda's higher education sector has some way to go in developing the internal efficiency. In 2000–2001, final year students were graduating with a success rate of between 11 and 50 percent. Across all years, this success rate is 53 to 76 percent.
The main higher learning institutions in Rwanda are: