Quality Education; Rwanda’s transformation to liberate minds of a new generation

Present time is a wonderful time for many Rwandans to be part of the current developments in all aspects of the country’s economic life, including advances in the Education sector. The Government of Rwanda has promoted a consistent policy for human development in which Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET) plays an important role.

 As Rwanda marks the 21st liberation anniversary, it is also important to reflect on the extra-ordinary change the Government brought to make useful citizens, capable of propelling their country through TVET.

 Sandrine Umuhoza 26, trained in Carpentry at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC-Kigali). She now owns a registered furniture company “Greatest Carpentry” which started in 2012 as a small carpentry workshop. Her initial startup capital was Rwf 100,000 ($140) but her business has grown up to win business contracts between Rwf 300,000 ($420) to over Rwf 2000,000 ($2,800) per month. Umuhoza also employs 5 workers to help her run the business.

  “I am working hard to have my business grow and compete but still need more capital,” said Umuhoza.

 Currently, there are 365 TVET schools in Rwanda and the 2013 WDA statistics show that student enrollment in TVET countrywide has increased from 51,773 in 2010 to 83,909 in 2013. Many students are in Technical Secondary Schools (TSSs) (77%), 19% in Vocational Training Centers (VTCs) and 4% in Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centers (IPRCs). TVET providers have increased to the rate of about 8% annually. In Rwanda 68% of TVET providers are private, 22% Public and 10% are government aided.

 Marie Chantal Musaniwabo 26, trained in Culinary Art from Nyarugung Vocational Training Center (Kigali). She is among the first group of 575 trainees who graduated in August 2014 under the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) project, supported through the World Bank to train 2,700 adolescent girls and young women. Musanuwabo started bakery business with Rwf 100,000 ($140), which has now increased to Rwf 400,000 ($560). She has formed a cooperative with her former classmates and each member is able to earn a profit of Rwf 50,000 ($70) per month.

 “We only need enough equipment to produce more bakery products. We are no longer vulnerable after acquiring life skills”, Musaniwabo proudly said.

From 2010, enrollment of female students in TVET has increased from 27,138 to 33,149.  Over 70,000 students have graduated in TVET Since 2011 and a tracer survey is being carried out to see how many have become self-employed.    

1,891 adolescent girls and young women have been trained in Culinary Art, Agri-Business, Food Processing, Art and Crafts under the AGI support.  According to Winnie Muhumuza, AGI Girls' Education Specialist, 122 graduates have formed 30 cooperatives. 

Rwanda’s National Employment Program (NEP) that aims to create 200,000 off-farm jobs each year has also started empowering many youth with employable skills. One of the four pillars of NEP is skills development, implemented by the WDA.

Under the Rapid Response Training (RRT) for the 2014/2015 fiscal year, WDA targeted to train 545 people in Construction, 200 in garment manufacturing, 120 in sports, 913 in Energy sector and 30 in the use of Hydraform machines.

The NEP component under WDA also covers Massive Vocational Training (MVT), offered in TVET Institutions (VTCs, TSSs and IPRCs) and Industrial Based Training (IBT) offered in companies.  1381 out of 5719 beneficiaries have completed training in the MVT. 

Other special projects identified for quick employment under the NEP include Sport activities & equipment making, leather processing training project, Agri-mechanization & irrigation, Film Making & movie shooting, training in Fire fighting, Hair dressing, Music, Dance & Drama.

Action aid international Rwanda is one of the anti-poverty agencies operating since 1996 to improve people’s livelihood especially women and youth.    According to the Country Director Josephine Irene Uwamariya, training business development is the best way through which the government can achieve goals in the National Employment program. 

“ I believe NEP will answer challenges to economic development only if there is analysis on critical targets and monitoring the level of employability”, Said Uwamariya. 

Action aid Rwanda supports 20 cooperatives, early childhood Education centers and provides start up kits to TVET graduates.

Rwanda targets to have 50 per cent of the country’s active population absorbed in off-farm jobs. Africa Digital Media Academy (ADMA -located in Kigali) promotes skills in ICT. The academy was established in 2012 through collaboration with pixel Corps a US-based digital media firm. Three of its students have formed a company (Mento Pro) that was awarded a USD 20,000 grant by the Rwanda Media Hub for development of educational content.  Rwanda Media Hub is the first incubator for digital media and media production enterprises in East Africa.

Clement Musonera Byiringiro one of the students said they are trying to expand their business and offer jobs other young people. Through their company, the same students plan to use 3D graphics to produce curriculum content for primary schools in partnership with the Ministry of Education. 

Investment from the private sector to boost TVET in Rwanda is coming up where currently 68% of TVET providers are private, 22% Public and 10% government aided.  However there is still more investment required from the private sector to strengthen TVET.

TVET students learn entrepreneurship skills through business incubation centers. ‘India-Rwanda’ incubation center in Gasabo district (Kigali) is one of them established through collaboration with the government of India. Training facilities at this Incubation center include fruit juice making, edible oil extraction, packaging, wire nail manufacturing, paper napkin manufacturing, Cell phone repairing, air conditioning and refrigeration and fashion design. 

Pascal Hakizimana is a TVET graduate in Electronics and Telecommunication at IPRC Kigali. Business incubation training has enabled him to get part time jobs in electrical installations. Hakizimana has a project that still needs financing to make electric doors and other house installations. 

In order to promote employable skills, the Ministry of Education is targeting to have enrolment into TVET from 9 Year Basic Education increased from 38% (current) to 60% by 2017. 

Rwanda strives to become a middle-income country through a knowledge-based, private sector-driven economy, resulting from Job creation.  Technical Vocational and Education Training plays an important role in this strategy.  Other factors like provision of startup capital by financial institutions also count. 

The establishment of Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centers (IPRCs) by the Ministry of Education is part of expansion program for TVET on provincial level. There are five IPRCs; IPRC Kigali, IPRC-North (in Rulindo district), IPRC-South (Huye district), IPRC-West (Karongi district) and IPRC-East (Ngoma district). All these IPRCs provide professional technical education up to Diploma level (A1) and act as WDA base for supervision, implementation and coordination of TVET activities in their respective locations.

Competency based training being promoted by WDA has enabled TVET students to develop projects that answer some of the problems affecting the local community. This initiative is meant to increase ‘the made in Rwanda products’ and propel Rwanda into a middle-income country. Final students in IPRCs have made innovations to support various sectors including Agriculture. One example is IPRC West where students made a Foot-Powered Grain Thresher, grain winnower machine, cell phone car ignition system, clap switch system, among others.

Frederick Mutangana is the Acting principal of IPRC West. He said that TVET focuses on training students to be creative and imaginative through problem solving. He added that such new technologies being developed would be disseminated to the local community to improve productivity.

Augustine Murwanashyaka is a parent who has a son studying Civil Engineering at St. Joseph integrated Technical College (Kigali). He has much hope in his son making a great contribution to the country’s development. 

“Rwanda is a developing country and I believe skills acquired by my son will enable him contribute towards bringing urbanization”, Murwanashayaka said.   

Brief on other key achievements. 

Introduction of the Rwanda TVET Qualification Framework (RTQF) in 2012 that links qualifications in the quality-assured national system of Educational for lifelong learning.

WDA and its development partners have developed competency based curricula and also introduced competency-based training. Over 100 Competency Based Curricula have so far been developed and others in pipeline as new training sectors emerge. 

Through collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the private sector, WDA also introduced An Industrial attachment program (IAP) in 2012.This is a program that enables students/graduates to be placed in companies/industries to acquire practical hands on skills through on the job training. This is done under the mentorship of a company supervisor with vast experience, in collaboration with an Industrial Liaison Officer (ILO) appointed at each TVET School. 

Creating a market driven economy and a private sector led is also among new initiatives being promoted by the Ministry of Education through the Industrial Based Training (IBT). One example is where WDA has partnered with private hotel owners to provide hands-on training to hotel employees. About 800 students have gone through IBT in Hospitality, sponsored by the Skills Development Project (SDP).  The trainings were conducted from four hotels; Moriah Hill Resort (Karongi district), Virunga Hotel (Musanze district), Urumuli Hotel (Gicumbi district) and Eastland Motel (Kayonza district).

WDA took over the responsibility of conducting national technical and professional exams from the former National Examination Council (now REB) in 2011. Statistics indicate that since 2012 the number of registered candidates has increased from 17,428 to 21,818 (25.5% increment), the number of examined subjects in 2013 increased from 108 to 114 (5.56% increment) while the overall pass rate increased from 90.95% to 91.01% (0.06% increment). 91% passed the 2013 A level technical and professional examinations.  At least 21,618 candidates sat the exams in 2013 compared to 17,223 in 2012. 

Establishment of the Africa Digital Media Academy (ADMA) by the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with pixel Corps a US-based digital media firm is a step towards developing a professional film industry in Rwanda. The academy launched in October 2012 has already started gaining international recognition. It won a global coveted award from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in May 2013 alongside 17 other countries for implementing various initiatives in ICT development. This school has recently introduced locally made animated episodes on the national television.

Reborn Kyoto a Japanese nonprofit organization that nurtures the economic independence of young and old women in developing countries collaborated with WDA to establish high-level cloth fabrication training in Rwanda. The three-year project worth US$ 800,000 and the first in Africa started in September 2013 with 52 young Rwandan trainees.  Ninety eight (98) young women and men have already benefited from this training. 

The first public music school in Rwanda has been established in Rubavu (western province) with 30 students (25 males and 5 females) who started a 3-year course in March 2013. They are being shaped to promote Rwandan cultural music up to the international scene. Another group of 30 students were selected for the second intake and have already started training. 

Establishment of Musanze Polytechnic, a China-aided project of about 12 million US dollars.

Establishment of a US$ 5 million ToT center “Rwanda Technical Teacher Institute (RTTI) at IPRC Kigali, with support from the South Korean Government through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). 

 Future plans include

- Establishing more TVET schools

- Strengthening Training of Trainers (ToT) program

- Rapid skills upgrade in the Labor Market as per priority areas

- More Public Awareness on TVET

Rwandans, many among them youth, remain strongly committed to their great ambitions, backed by hard work to uphold the legacy of those who liberated the country.

Source: wda.gov.rw