Rwanda asks Zambia for English tutors

Friday June 19 2015

Primary learners read a book. Rwanda has asked Zambia to help the country in its bid to scale up the transition from French to English as a medium of instruction. PHOTO | FILE

Rwanda has asked Zambia to help the country in its bid to scale up the transition from French to English as a medium of instruction despite new targets to reduce the country’s budget on expatriates.

While details of the expected partnership are yet to be made public, officials at the Rwanda Education Board, in a recent joint review with all stakeholders, announced new changes to reduce the number of English mentors.

According to Janvier Gasana the Director-General of the Rwanda Education Board, despite the need to expedite the training of teachers in English, the board’s plan was also to cut costs on English teachers from Uganda and Kenya.

“We have started to reduce the number of teachers coming from neighbouring countries by replacing them with Rwandans. This will have several implications but the most important is about the cost. The money we are paying these expatriates is much higher than the salary paid to local teachers,” said Mr Gasana, while hinting at plans to bridge the expected funding gap in the new fiscal year.

In 2009 the government decided to switch to the usage of English as the medium of instruction in schools — a change that shook the entire backbone of the education system and which was opposed by many.

The government recruited over 1,000 English teachers to help local teachers adopt methods of teaching using English, a move that was termed fruitless by all but one report by the Auditor-General.


According to the 2012-13 Auditor-General’s report the programme did not have a clear and comprehensive plan to guide its implementation; hence it saw no value for money in the whole programme, which used more than 60 per cent of its budget on foreign mentors.

READ: Red flag over absentee foreign English teachers

It is estimated that a total of Rwf25 million had been paid to mentors who were no longer in service due to lack of timely monitoring reports and amid allegations that some have absconded their duties without notifying the government.

The Auditor-General had earlier blamed the Rwanda Education Board for failing to produce performance evaluations. The evaluations should have been documented by the time of the audit in April 2014 in order to assess the performance of the teachers.

As the government prepares to embark on the implementation of a new curriculum next year, amid a shortage of qualified teachers, some educationists believe reinforcing the team of foreign teachers is timely irrespective of the cost involved.

“Should the government change its plans to hire more mentors, it will have no choice but to solicit donor funds in order to have all teachers ready for the new curriculum slated for January next year,” said Alphonse Nshimiye an education expert.

The previous recruitments have seen around 900 English mentors hired, who have been teaching in all primary and secondary schools in Rwanda.