The education sector has undergone various transformations over time. The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was a moment that set the sector back several years since most of the infrastructure was destroyed.
In the same disaster, thousands of teaching personnel were killed while others fled the country leaving it with a huge manpower gap.
Even before 1994, little had been achieved since many of the concerned policy makers were concerned with denying a section of the population, the right to accessing education. Valuable time was spent on divisive thinking and strategies at the expense of the deserved pedagogy.
After 1994, the new unity government embarked on reviving the education sector by ensuring the end of discrimination as well as construction of educational facilities.
The mere prevalence of stability and security has also gone a long way in attracting investment by both the government and the private sector.
Policies like the promotion of Information Technology, the switch to English language instruction as well as the 9-Year Basic Education programme have led to both a quantitative and qualitative upsurge in the sector.
The challenge now is to keep the quality improving so as to make the products of the education sector not only employable in Rwanda but competitive on the international job market.
After getting the basic right, it is important to have an element of competition in the sector if quality is to be engendered. Just like our forefathers who strove to be the best hunters or warriors, our children should also be encouraged to be the best at school.
We need to encourage a culture of competition among our children. Parents must be ready to keep records of their children’s performance and make necessary comparisons on a regular basis.
One way of ensuring improved performance is by rewarding your child while also punishing them for poor performance. Punishing does not have to be corporal, simply withholding a gift or holiday trip is enough.
It is commendable that organisations like Imbuto Foundation always reward the best performing female students each year. It was also reported that the Kigali City Council also plans to reward the best performing students in Kigali City.
It would be great if other corporate companies joined the movement of rewarding the top performers. Since the girls are already taken care of, a company can decide to reward the best performers in a particular subject especially in the field of sciences.
The rewards can take the form of scholarships or ordinary gifts like scholastic materials, laptops and cash. Whatever the form, the effort to reward is bound to ensure competition in schools and thus boost quality.
On the other hand, organising educational debates and quizzes is another way creating competition among schools. Recently, Riviera High School emerged best out of eight schools in a debating competition organised by Never Again Rwanda a youth-focused organisation.
Such competitions significantly help students to develop confidence and public speaking skills.
Organisations like Never Again Rwanda ought to be supported to not only make these competitions annual but to also spread them to other provinces other than Kigali and where possible, organise national level competitions.
Apart from debates, we also need to have regular school quizzes and spelling and bees where school going children are tested on current affairs topics as well as some of the things they study in class.
A corporate company can take this up as a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy aimed at boosting the education sector as well as providing mileage for the company.