9YBE plan wins Commonwealth award

Friday September 14 2012

Primary school pupils using laptops in a classroom. Photo/CYRIL NDEGEYA

Primary school pupils using laptops in a classroom. Photo/CYRIL NDEGEYA Nation Media Group

By RODRIGUE RWIRAHIRA Rwanda Today

The government has attributed the Commonwealth Education Award it won last month to sound policies, tailored to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Top government officials reckoned that winning the prestigious award was a thumbs-up to the country’s education policies, which were prepared by President Paul Kagame’s administration to achieve MDGs by 2015.

Rwanda last month scooped the Commonwealth Education Good Practice Award for its education policy dubbed 9YBE, which offers free and compulsory education to children for six years in primary and three in secondary school.

The education project emerged tops, beating Malaysia’s ‘School Co-operative project’ meant to improve entrepreneurship skills of its students and Uganda’s ‘Community Led Actions for Children’ tailored to help children from poverty stricken areas.

The 9YBE project emerged the best amongst 123 entries from 27 countries for its objective of addressing the immediate need for expansion of education after the 1994 genocide.

The judges voted that, beyond ensuring access to education, the project has successfully contributed to national reconciliation after the genocide.

Emmanuel Muvunyi, the deputy director general of the Rwanda Education Board, said the project was one of the 123 from 27 countries that participated in the competition.

“It is a great honour and privilege for the people of Rwanda because they are the ones who own this project. We are pleased as new members of the Commonwealth to be offered something back,” said Mr Muvunyi.

Education Minister Vincent Biruta described the award as a vote of confidence in Rwanda’s development and progress in the education sector.

“Rwanda has many best practices to offer, which other countries can draw inspiration from,” added the minister.

The 9YBE was established four years ago as a home grown solution to boost enrolment in primary and secondary schools.

The project, the government said, aims to ensure all children enrolled in primary education join secondary schools.

According to the World Bank, over 8,600 classrooms were constructed between 2009 and 2011, and the primary net enrolment increased from 91 per cent in 2003 to 96 per cent in 2011, while primary completion increased from 52 per cent in 2008 to 79 per cent in 2011.

Following the success registered by the 9YBE programme, the government introduced the 12 Year Basic Education (12YBE) project to ensure full implementation of free primary and secondary education to achieve MDGs.

Since February, the secondary school programme has been implemented 88 per cent, and students who have passed senior three exams are currently enrolled in their first senior four.

“Almost 90 per cent of the constructions have been done, what is remaining is final touches and inserts of other materials like water tanks,” said Mr Harebamungu.

The government and the World Food Programme also plan school feeding programme to contain dropout.

The government said schools experiencing high dropout rates are being identified before the programme is rolled out.

The government also said it will improve the quality of learning by training and hiring more teachers, providing more materials, strengthening education in science and technology and improving school management systems.

The education good practices while being assessed each project must address at least one of eight action areas which include achieving universal primary education and eliminating gender disparities in education; improving quality in education; using distance learning to overcome barriers; supporting education in difficult circumstances; mitigating the impact of HIV on education systems; using education to promote sustainable development; and promoting civil paths to peace.

These align with the Millennium Development Goals, Education for all goals and the Commonwealth’s education priorities.