This year, the theme of the day; ‘Take a stand for teachers’ is a direct call for authorities to take action against any challenge, economic or social to improve the social and working conditions for teachers globally.
For Rwanda, the government is putting in place various programmes aimed at promoting the education sector and the teachers’ welfare in general. The government is also trying to attract more teachers into the profession.
It is in this regard that there should be incentives, not only to improve but attract more students into the profession.
Records from the Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MIFOTRA ) show that the number of teachers in public schools has been increasing.
For the last three years, the number of teachers in public schools rose from 52,501 in 2010 to 58,317 in 2012.
Last year, 4,952 teachers left public schools. Other teachers say that their profession enables them to easily join other professions.
“Teachers have for long lacked the capacity to go for further studies to upgrade but based on government initiatives to support us, we can now afford to pay tuition and even join other professions,” said Beatrice Nyiraguhirwa, a teacher who has been in service for last 25 years.
She said they also have access to low interest loans, especially from Umwalimu Sacco; a teacher`s savings and credit cooperative.
This is one of the government initiatives to improve the social welfare of teachers by giving them access of loans so as to start side income generating activities.
The cooperative recently increased the amount of loans that teachers can access from 3 million to up to Rwf 15 million.
Currently, there are 2,047 and 1,175 primary and secondary public schools respectively. The Director of Public Service Management and Development, Alexis Ntagungira, said that by 2018, there will be a need of 75,423 teachers.
“The need will base on the number of schools and the programmes that are being implemented in the education sector,” said Ntagungira.
The government introduced the 9 and 12-Year Basic Education programmes in addition to shifting from French to English as the medium of instruction in schools; something that calls for more English teachers.
One of the major challenges that have been raised is that teachers say their pay does not reflect the changes in the cost of living. This, they say, leads or forces them to run from one school to another.
Responding to the concern, the Minister of Education, Dr. Vincent Biruta, said that the government has come up with more incentives to improve and encourage many to join the teaching profession.
“With effect from January this year, we made a 10 percent increase on primary teacher`s salaries and the same has been done for secondary teachers,” Biruta said.
He pointed out that the teacher`s cooperative has also received Rwf 5 billion to build on the capacity of giving more loans to a bigger number of teachers.
This year`s celebrations of the World Teachers Day will be done at the Sector levels throughout the country.