Rwandan govt, church yet to agree on subsidised schools

Wednesday June 28 2017

The Catholic Church owns more than 40 per cent

The Catholic Church owns more than 40 per cent of all primary and secondary schools in the country. PHOTO FILE | NATION 

By ROBERT MBARAGA
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An expected collaboration agreement on government-subsidised schools owned by the Catholic Church is still held back due to lack of a common ground on obligations of parties.

“We have agreed on the draft arrangement but it has taken too long to be signed. We want to know if there is anything missing in the draft so that we can add that or if there is something wrong so that we can rectify,” said Célestin Hakizimana, Bishop of Gikongoro diocese.

A source familiar with the negotiations told Rwanda Today that the government was concerned with investing too much into the subsidised schools compared with what he calls “little contribution from the church.”

“The government pays salaries of all personnel of these schools. It often pays for rehabilitation of buildings and developing new ones, and at the end of the day you wonder what the contribution of the church is,” he said.

In 2015, a prime minister’s order providing special regulations governing this Church-government partnership was passed, but the government remained reluctant in committing to the regulations.

According to the prime minister’s order, buildings and other infrastructure on government-subsidised schools shall be the property of the landowner.

The government has not yet come out to mention this concern, but has in the past said it was still working on the agreement.

“We acknowledge the contribution of the church in the country’s education and we promise that this issue will be addressed,” said Dr Michael Tusiime Rwibasira, head of Examination and Accreditation in Rwanda Education Board.

Though the church insists that it wished “this very important agreement is signed before the end of this year,” there is a risk that it may take longer.

According to sources, the government wants the church build and maintain new classrooms as well as other educational infrastructure in such schools.