Rwanda is planning to hire at least 4,000 teachers from the East African Community this month, opening an employment window for thousands of unemployed teachers in the region.
The move is part of plans to scale up the use of English as the language of instruction in schools as well as increase its use in the largely French-speaking economy, as it seeks opportunities in the integrated EAC where English is the formal language of communication.
Kenya’s education permanent secretary Prof James ole Kiyiapi, said the ministry had received Rwanda’s request and forwarded it to the Teachers Service Commission.
“Rwanda proposed certain contractual terms and the TSC has basic minimum conditions for its members, especially when you consider that the teachers will be working away from their home country. But Rwanda is yet to get back to us to finalise the terms.”
The hiring of teachers — to act as school based mentors — will help to eliminate the heavy imbalances in the market that has left countries like Kenya and Uganda with a surplus while its neighbours experience acute shortages.
For example, Tanzania suffers an acute shortage of secondary school teachers as a result of the successful implementation of a five-year Secondary Education Development Programme that began in 2004, under which 1,050 new secondary schools were built countrywide.
Last year, Tanzania also went shopping in Kenya and Uganda for high school teachers for science and mathematics subjects though definite figures of how many were recruited are yet to be established.
But in 2010, the Tanzanian government had initially planned to hire additional 49,000 teachers.
Rwanda’s recruitment process should begin this month with about 2,000 mentors expected from Kenya.
A recent survey by the World Bank and Kenya’s Export Promotion Council found that the demand for professional services such as banking, insurance, legal, accounting, architectural, ICT and engineering has been rising with the progression of the integration process, offering Kenya and other countries an advanced human resource base — a chance to boost their service exports.
Emerging investment opportunities in East Africa have been marked by a growing interest in international affiliations by local firms aiming to improve their brand equity, a trend that is pushing up demand for professional services.
But movement of labour across countries in EAC was still facing challenges.
“We are still being held up by perceptions that there is conflict between national laws and those of the EAC regarding the movement of labour,” said Kenya’s EAC Permanent Secretary David Nalo.
“We are seeing higher demand for key professional services such as architecture, law, engineering and hospitality across the region” he added.
Of the 4,112 mentors that will be recruited, 2,543 mentors will be posted to primary schools; 1,471 to secondary schools and 98 to vocational training colleges.
“They will mentor our teachers so they can know how to teach English and help to improve the reading culture.
The partnership will continue until all our teachers perfect their English language skills,” Dr Mathias Harebamungu, the Rwanda State Minister-in-charge of primary and secondary education told The EastAfrican last week.
While English was introduced as the language of instruction in schools in 2008, and a complete switch from French took place in 2009, several teachers are still struggling to comply, with many having to learn the language from scratch.
According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education in 2009, 85 per cent of primary school teachers and 66 per cent of secondary school only had beginner, elementary or pre-intermediate levels of English.
The switch came after Rwanda became a member of the East African Community, and member states embarked on the process of harmonising their education curricula, with English being the shared language of instruction.
It was also a precursor to Rwanda joining the British Commonwealth, in November 2009.