Over 60,000 Rwandan students fail national exams, to repeat classes

Monday October 04 2021
Students leave for home.

Students leave for home. Over 60,000 students in Rwanda will repeat classes after theyr performed poorly in the national exam. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By Ange Iliza

More than 60,000 Rwandan students who failed the national exams will repeat their classes as the government moves to scrap automatic promotion to the next class.

The move aims at improving the quality of education using a merit marking system.

The results released on Monday by the Ministry of Education shows that more than 44,100 pupils (17 percent of those who sat for the primary leaving exams) and more than 16,400 students (13.6 per cent of total students in ordinary level) performed poorly in the exams and will have to repeat their classes.

Data shows that 251,906 pupils sat for the primary leaving exams and 121,626 students sat for the ordinary level leaving exams.

In the last few years, students have been consistently continuing to the next class regardless of their performance. This will no longer be the case.

“[It will] not [be] as usual, where all the students were being given the placements in the next levels or allowed to get placements in private schools. All these poorly performed students will not get placements in the next levels, but they will be assisted to first reach the required levels,” said Dr Valentine Uwamariya, the Minister of Education.


“This means that over 44,100 pupils will not progress to year-one in secondary schools nor over 16,400 students will not get placements in the next levels i.e. year four or the level three of TVET schools,” she added.

The national examinations were initially slated for November last year but were moved to July this year due to the pandemic.

According to the Education ministry, students defied the odds during the pandemic and overall academic performance has improved compared to 2019.

According to the figures, while 3.8 percent pupils scored within the first class and 17.7 percent in the second class of the total national primary leaving examinations in 2019, the released figures indicate that in 2021 the performance improved with 5.7 percent pupils scoring in first class and 20.5 percent in second class.

The Ministry indicates that the performance of the ordinal level leavers improved from 9.1 per cent in first class and 15.5 percent in second class in 2019 to the now 15.8 per cent in first class and 18.6 percent in second class.

“We cannot say that the coronavirus has dented the students’ performance, but it is obvious that during the months the schools were closed, parents with the national examination candidates helped them to audaciously study,” said Dr Uwamariya.

During the lockdown, Rwanda’s Ministry of Education rolled out e-learning classes.

However, with the limited internet penetration, the Ministry of Education ordered schools to repeat courses taught online during the closure period to help contain the rise in inequalities in education.