6 Achieve universal primary education

Where we are?

Education for All is a major objective of government policy in Rwanda

The most recent figures indicate that the literacy rate for 15-24 year olds stood at 84  per cent in 2010/11 an increase from 57 per cent in 2000/6 (NISR 2007b), suggesting reasonably good progress. However, this is based on self-definition and not systematic testing (NISR 2007a). Good progress in increasing the literacy rate is likely to continue to be made as a higher and higher proportion of young people have had at least some primary education but it is unlikely that 100 per cent of 15-24 year olds will be literate by 2015.

Progress in reaching the Indicator of a hundred per cent of pupils completing primary school (defined as the number of children completing primary school as a proportion of all 12 year olds) is slower and may not be achieved. It looks challenging and will require concerted efforts to increase retention.

The main challenge is keep children in school once they attend, and this is likely to be achieved by improving the quality of schools and education, and by schools working with parents (IPAR 2009).More attention needs to be paid to learning outcomes and achievements. There is also evidence that parents are more likely to keep their children in school if they will be able to continue into the secondary phase. The introduction, by the Government, of free basic education enabling all children to attend school until the end of the junior secondary phase may have a positive impact on primary school retention and completion rates, as may the adoption by the Government of the Child Friendly School Standard (Ministry of Education, 2008).

There is also a concern that the recent rapid expansion in primary education may have led to a decline in quality. Net on time completion rates declined between 2005/6 and 20010/11  which is indicative of a decline in standards.  Incresed late completion is not due to late enrollment because, as we have discussed,  there has was a decline in late enrollment over the same period. In 2005/6 for every 100 children aged  seven to 12 years attending primary school  there were 21 children over 12 years by 2010/11 this had increased to 57. The Learning Achievement in Rwanda Schools found that only just over half (55%) of P6 pupils met or exceeeded curicular expectations in reading and that a mjority do not meet expectation in numeracy (Ministry of Education 2011). DeStefano and Ralaingita (2011) found poor attainment in Kinyarwanda, English and mathematics in primary  schools and the UK Independent Commission for Aid Effectivness (2012) concludes that the rapid expansion of primary education has led to a decline in educational outcomes.

The proportion of children attending school has increased and by 2010/11 the net attendance rate at primary school was 92 per cent up from 63 per cent in 1990. There was a rapid increase in primary school attendance rates between 2000/1 and 2005/6 probably driven by the induction of fee free education. Progress has slowed somewhat since 2005/6, however. The challenge is to make the final push to achieve the 100 per cent net enrolment rate which looks on track to be met.

Net Primary School Attendance Rates and Linear Projection 1990-2010/11

Line Chart
Targets for MDG2
  1. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
    • Net enrolment ratio in primary education
    • Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
    • Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men