The results for the primary school examination released by the Ministry of Education last week point to a sharp increase in completion rates. However, pass rates appear to have plateaued out in the mid-80s leading to calls for a renewed focus on output.
The primary school completion rate increased by 22 per cent, with 237,152 candidates registering to sit the primary school examinations in 2017 compared with 194,054 candidates in 2016.
However, the general pass rate only improved marginally from 85.4 per cent (159,785 candidates) in 2016 to 86.3 per cent (196,873 candidates) in 2017.
While presenting the results, the junior Minister for Education Isaac Munyakazi, said the numbers vindicated past efforts to improve access to education with the gross primary school enrolment rate standing at 139 per cent in 2016.
“It is no longer a privilege for children to attend school. The issue is no longer enrolment but completion and good performance,” he said.
However, not all registered candidates sat for the exams, with only 228,048 candidates out of 237,152 turning up for the exam. Officials attributed the no shows who totalled 9,104 candidates to individual circumstances such as illness.
There was a slight decline in performance with only 5.2 per cent of the candidates passing in division one compared with 5.3 per cent in 2016. Boys performed better than girls and accounted for 56.1 per cent of students who passed with a distinction compared with 43 per cent for girls.
At O-level 98,249 students registered to sit for exams in 2017 compared with 90,759 in 2016. Of these, 96,595 students turned up compared with 89,421 in 2016.
The secondary school pass rate remained high at 89.9 per cent compared with 89 per cent in 2016. Mr Munyakazi said performance in science subjects was strong with rural schools performing better than their urban counterparts.
Girls performed better than boys at O-level with 52 per cent of girl candidates passing compared with 47.9 per cent of boys.
Mr Munyakazi said the government will now invest more in school infrastructure, specifically in increasing classrooms; closing the double shifting programme for primary six students; improving the curriculum; provision of school materials and integration of ICT to improve the quality of education.
Damien Ntaganzwa, a teacher and the head of Support Primary Education, an NGO operating in Kigali, told Rwanda Today that enrolling more students needs to be matched by an improvement in the quality of education.
Mr Ntaganzwa said the government will need to reduce resources and time spent on providing extra training for teachers and focus more on equipping the teachers with the right training in campus as well as overhauling the curricular.