Delegation of the Rwanda Senate Commission for Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions visits the University of Rwanda-College of Education

The delegation of the Commission for Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions of the Rwanda Parliament, Chamber of Senate, visited the University of Rwanda-College of Education in the framework of the program set out by the Senate to investigate challenges facing implementation of the Competence-Based Curriculum(CBC)in the education system in  Rwanda.

The delegation was headed by Senator NYAGAHURA Marguerite and included Senators Prof. NKUSI Laurent and Dr. NTAWUKURIRYAYO Jean Damascene. They were welcomed by the College of Education Principal, Prof. George K.NJOROGE. They held discussions with the College management, Deans, Heads of Departments, lecturers and Students representatives.

Senators’ delegation in a meeting with UR-CE management, Deans, Heads of Departments, lecturers and Students Representatives

In her introductory note, Senator NYIRABUHURA briefed participants on the reform of the old curriculum initiated by Rwanda Education Board(REB) in 2013, which gave birth to the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) introduced in the schools in 2016.

She noted, ‘’the Senate received reports from REB stating that the implementation of the new curriculum was faced with big challenges which included; insufficiency of the training of teachers on CBC, which could not reach all teachers contrary to what was expected, a big number of the students in a classroom, insufficient textbooks compared to the number of students and lack of an effective tool of communication for sharing information on the use of CBC’’.

She went on to say, ‘’we have set out a program to check on how CBC is working; what are its successes and challenges and what can be done to address those challenges…, because the Senate shall definitively  formulate an advice to the Government on the way forward for improvement.

Students’ Representatives (left) attended the meeting

 Senator Prof. NKUSI, in his intervention, asked the participants to elaborate their arguments on the preparation of future teachers of TTCs and of other schools in general on CBC implementation, collaboration between the College of Education and secondary schools in program development, school inspection, among others.

In his statement, Senator Dr. NTAWUKURIRYAYO stressed the need to focus on strategies devised to fill the gap in the transition from knowledge-based curriculum to CBC, assistance given to the students who are on school attachment while they are not given allowances, challenges of English as a medium of instruction, the issue of enrolling students with poor performance in the College of Education while they are set to be future teachers, among others.

In his remarks, Prof NJOROGE gave an overview of the College of Education and took the delegation through different initiatives taken and activities carried out to actualize the assigned mandate of the College.

He noted that the College of Education was involved in the review of the old knowledge based curriculum and has been implementing the Competence-Based Curriculum by putting in place through the degree and diploma programmes which have been reviewed with reference to the School curriculum. The CBC aspects are covered through training of staff, assessments and evaluation as well as continuous professional development courses for head teachers in conjunction with REB and development partners.

‘’Our efforts to make CBC implementation effective can also demonstrated by the development of different partnerships with diversified but complementary areas of intervention. We appreciate the partnership with VVOB, Mastercard Foundation, AIMS, BLF, Maths and Science for Sub-Saharan Africa(MS4SSA) to name but just a few’’, Prof. NJOROGE affirmed.

’In the same perspective of quality education assurance, the recent MINEDUC Retreat recommended the review of our academic programs to ensure that School attachment is integrated within the programs rather than being conducted at the end of the study program as is the case at present,’’ he further added.

While discussing the drawbacks in CBC implementation, Prof. NJOROGE shared with the participants examples of inadequacies, which affect students’ competencies, observed during the Quality Education Awareness Campaign organized by the Ministry of Education. ‘’ We noted challenges of a big number of students in a classroom, lack of internet connectivity, insufficient textbooks, lack of lab kits, teachers with inadequate CBC skills and challenges of English as a language of  instruction, ’’ he said.

Concerning UR-CE responsibilities over TTCs, the Principal informed the Commission that the responsibilities have been transferred to REB by the Ministry of Education. However, URCE continues to work very closely with REB.

‘‘After introduction of CBC in Primary and Secondary Education, the University of Rwanda-College of Education reviewed its academic programs in 2017 in order to integrate required elements of CBC. In the same context, all academic staff participated in a series of workshops in order to develop their competences in the new learner centered pedagogy’’, said Dr. MUHIRWA Andre who is the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning Enhancement.

Dr. MUHIRWA also noted that, according to the assessment conducted in 2015 on quality standards in some TTCs, it was found out that, on the one hand, some teachers were not trained to teach in TTCs, while others were not qualified to teach in TTCs, on the other hand. Challenges of a big number of students in classroom, insufficient teaching and learning materials as well as substandard infrastructure were also identified.

Based on the findings of a research on the causes of poor performance in national examinations, Prof. NDABAGA Eugene, who is the Director of Research and Innovation, said that budget constraints of teachers’ salaries make  it hard to weed out unqualified teachers who are cheaper to recruit. This is also a hindrance to the implementation of the CBC implementation.

Dr. Alphonse UWORWABAYEHO, who is the Head of the Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education, also indicated that, according to the results of assessments conducted on quality education standards in nursery schools, graduates of Early Childhood Education Program in TTCs were not employed due to budget constraints of teachers’ salaries.

The delegation was informed about the ‘’UR Language Management Scheme’’. As explained by Dr. AHIMANA Emmanuel, who is the Head of the Department of Humanities and Languages, the UR Language Management Scheme was established on the initiative of a team of UR-CE Experts in Languages in a bid to respond to the challenges of the mastery of official languages used in Rwanda, most importantly English as a medium of instruction.

While talking about the issue of enrollment of students with poor performance in the College of Education, Mrs. Odette UWIZEYE, who is the College Registrar, indicated that enrolled students are in different categories following UR admission requirements. ‘’ We admit students following applicant’s  choices on the one hand, those who are eligible for admission but are not admitted into other Colleges on the other hand, as well as those who graduate from TTCs with a percentage of not less than 60%,’’she explained.

Concerning school attachment, members of the delegation were informed that the classroom moves from the College to the field and therefore students use their loans that they would ordinarily use while in the College. It was indicated nevertheless that students are facilitated in their choices for the schools they want to go to but following the school mapping with regard to the subjects of their specialization.

Students’ representatives emphasized that their fellow students on school attachment live wanting situations when allowances are not disbursed on time and thus they would welcome a timely disbursement of the allowances. However, they appreciated the increase of living allowances by government.

Despite inadequacies of CBC implementation, participants appreciated the potential and effectiveness of CBC in teaching and learning for transformation. They all agreed that its implementation required an acceptable teacher-student ratio, so that the teacher can coach each and every student, access to learning facilities and qualified teachers trained on how to implement the CBC effectively.

In her closing remarks, Senator NYIRABUHURA on behalf the delegation commended participants for the fruitful discussions. She particularly lauded the College management for the efforts made in improving the quality education in Rwanda and encouraged them to be in the forefront in ensuring that Rwanda trains the teachers who will educate Rwanda’s children for sustainable development of the country.

The delegation on a tour of Rukara Campus facilities

Before concluding their visit, the members of the delegation toured the Campus facilities including the School of Inclusive and Special Needs of Education Centre where they interacted with parents of children with disabilities assisted by the School in income generating UDUSEKE Craft Project.

 

The delegation interacted with parents of children with disabilities assisted by
the School of Inclusive and Special Needs Education in income generating Uduseke craft project

Story by

 

NTIRANDEKURA Schadrac

Public Relations and Protocol Officer

University of Rwanda-College of Education