Rwanda: Raising the Bar on Education

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The former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once said “Investing in education is investing in the future of a nation. Rwanda’s commitment to quality education is a beacon of hope for Africa.” Rwanda has emerged as a beacon of hope, particularly in the realm of education. Over the past few decades, Rwanda has made significant strides in transforming its education system, aiming to provide quality education for all. This article discusses Rwanda’s journey in raising the bar on education, examining its challenges, the strategies it implemented, and the remarkable progress it has achieved.

Rebuilding the Education System

Prior to the genocide, Rwanda’s education system faced challenges like low enrollment rates, teacher shortages, and a curriculum that emphasized rote learning. The genocide exacerbated these issues, destroying schools and displacing millions. However, the post-genocide government, led by President Paul Kagame, prioritized education.

One of the most significant reforms was the introduction of a competency-based curriculum in 2003. This approach shifted the focus from memorization to critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. Subjects like information and communication technology (ICT) were integrated, preparing students for the digital age.

Investing in Teachers

Rwanda recognized that a strong education system hinges on qualified and motivated teachers. The government increased teacher salaries, provided extensive training programs, and implemented performance-based incentives. This emphasis on teacher development is evident in statistics.  According to a 2018 World Bank report, the pupil-teacher ratio in Rwanda significantly improved from 58:1 in 2000 to 23:1 in primary schools. The Teacher Training College in Rukara, built in 2006, exemplifies Rwanda’s commitment to teacher education. This state-of-the-art facility equips future teachers with the latest pedagogical approaches and technology integration skills.


Rwanda is leveraging technology to transform education delivery. The “ICT-in-Education” policy, launched in 2016, aims to create “Smart Classrooms.”  By 2021, the government aimed to connect 85% of schools to the internet. This initiative provides students with access to online resources, and interactive learning tools, and facilitates innovative teaching methods.

A 2021 KT Press report highlights the government’s optimism: “The Ministry of Education says about 85% of the schools across the country will be connected to the internet in the next two years.”

However, challenges remain. Equipping all schools with quality internet infrastructure and ensuring equitable access to technology across rural and urban areas require continuous investment and strategic planning.

Empowering Girls

Rwanda has made significant strides in promoting gender equality in education. Since the genocide, the enrolment rate for girls has surpassed that of boys at both primary and secondary levels. This achievement can be attributed to initiatives like the abolition of school fees and the “Twelve Year Basic Education Program,” which guarantees free, quality education for all children. The “Keeping Girls in School” program provides financial aid and mentorship to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, helping them stay on track for academic success.

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Notwithstanding, there’s still work to be done. Addressing social norms that may discourage girls from pursuing certain fields of study and ensuring girls complete their education are ongoing efforts.

While Rwanda’s education reform is commendable, challenges persist.  Equipping students with the necessary skills to compete in a globalized job market requires ongoing curriculum adjustments and a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Additionally, ensuring the quality of education across all regions and providing adequate support for students with special needs are crucial aspects to consider.

Rwanda’s education reform serves as a powerful example for other developing nations. The country’s commitment to universal access, quality education, and continuous improvement offers valuable lessons. By prioritizing education and fostering a culture of learning, Rwanda is not just raising the bar for its citizens but also charting a course toward a brighter future.

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