Rwanda recently won a prestigious Commonwealth Education Good Practice Award for its work on fast tracking nine year basic education.
Emmanuel Muvunyi, Deputy Director General of the Rwanda Education Board, received the award at the opening ceremony of the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers, held in Mauritius, yesterday.
The Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards are held every three years to celebrate and promote new and innovative education projects from across the Commonwealth. They must address at least one of eight action areas which range from achieving universal primary education, eliminating gender disparities in education to mitigating the impact of HIV on education systems. The action areas align with the Commonwealth’s education priorities, the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals.
Rwanda was one of 123 applications from 27 countries submitted for this year’s awards. Its Fast Tracking Strategy’ was initiated in 2009 to meet the growing demand for secondary education, following the country’s successful introduction of universal primary education in 2003. Judges were impressed by both its innovative and cost-effective approach.
The Mauritian Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmed Beebeehjaun applauded Rwanda for its ‘unconventional approach to school construction,’ where local residents have helped to plan and construct classrooms and latrines to expand access to lower secondary education. The strategy has introduced innovative, cost-effective, efficient and sustainable approaches to developing the school system, through community participation and effective coordination.
Thanks to the fast tracking strategy, Rwanda has seen a rapid increase in enrolment, retention and completion at primary and lower secondary level. Over 8,600 classrooms were constructed between 2009 and 2011. In addition, primary net enrolment increased from 91% in 2003 to 96% in 2011, and primary completion increased from 52% in 2008 to 79% in 2011.
“We are delighted to have played a role in making education accessible for all children in Rwanda through our support to the Fast Tracking Strategy,” said Noala Skinner, UNICEF’s Representative to Rwanda. “UNICEF has supported Government to develop infrastructure standards and guidelines that were used during the fast tracking construction, as well as to ensure the quality of that construction,” she added.
The schools, which were built under the fast tracking strategy are all based on UNICEF ‘Child Friendly Schools’ standards, ensuring that they inclusive, gender responsive and address the health, sanitation, protection and learning needs of all children.