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Teacher recruitment saga: What went wrong?

Leave a comment / By: manifel / 04 November, 2020 14:56:48PM
Teacher recruitment saga: What went wrong?

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente on Monday, November 2, suspended three top officials at Rwanda Education Board (REB), for allegedly failing to co-ordinate the ongoing teacher recruitment process.

The suspended officials include the institution’s Director General, Irenee Ndayambaje, his deputy, Angelique Tumusiime and James Ngoga, the Head of Teacher Development and Management at the institution. 

The news came on the same day both primary and secondary schools reopened physical classrooms, in what the government called a phased plan, as the country gears towards full resumption of physical classrooms after nearly eight months. 

However, as schools reopened, concerns emerged that teachers who had passed their entry exams and awaiting placement to respective schools, were stranded after more than three months. 

They were meant to be placed in different public schools across different districts.

Irenée Ndayambaje, former Director General of Rwanda Education Board. 

Also revealed was the issue of teachers who passed their interviews last year in December but had not been placed yet, almost a year later.

But what went wrong with the recruitment process?

One of the teachers who passed the exams last year said that there were discrepancies in the tabulation of data recorded between the districts and REB.

He gave an example of Nyabihu District, where he is currently based.

“In Nyabihu, the district officials know that there are existing vacancies for teachers, but the data released by REB indicates there are no vacant positions,” he said, preferring to remain anonymous to be able to speak freely.

According to the teacher, the district now has three teachers who are on the waiting list for administrative positions.

“There is a general problem of teachers who passed exams for administrative positions. We passed but have not been placed anywhere yet. I don’t know whether these teachers who are being recruited will go to schools that don’t have administrators,” he wondered.

According to a head teacher who only preferred to be identified with one name, Rutabana, the current teacher placement process has a number of challenges as opposed to the former process.

“Five years ago, we (head teachers) used institutions to compete for the best teachers. At that time, a head teacher would be satisfied by his staff,” said Rutabana, whose school is located in Gisagara District.

Rutabana who has been a teacher for the past 10 years decried that the current process does not give room for a head teacher to choose for themselves the teachers they feel would best serve the purpose.

“You can imagine receiving teachers that you are not in need of, and then you don’t get the ones that you actually want,” he added.

According to Rutabana, even though the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted operation of schools, “The truth is that there were unnecessary delays but this can be reverted for a better solution”.

“I think much as REB sets the exams, the recruitment process should be taken over by the districts, which should then engage schools,” he said, adding that what REB does is costly and tiresome.

Meanwhile, Christine Umulisa, teacher at GS Nyarugenge, highlighted that teachers who are being hired are sent to far places from their homes, which becomes an inconvenience.

For instance, there is a teacher she knows whose home is in Ruhango District and was was sent to Kirehe District.

“This is particularly challenging if you look at the salaries. For a teacher to incur transport costs, rent and other expenses from just Rwf40,000 is really unfair,” she said.

To overcome the challenge, Umulisa suggests that teachers who pass their entry exams should be graded accordingly.

“First they can grade them by marks and then by districts. This will ensure proper management of the process”.

“But I think that the most concern is for those teachers who passed exams last year but have not been placed yet” she reiterated.

Way forward

Speaking to The New Times, Gaspard Twagirayezu, Minister of State in charge of primary and secondary education at the Ministry of Education said that observed mistakes are being rectified and that a new version will be out soon.

When pressed for details, he said; “we are still evaluating the extent of the work but should be soon. We also have teams on ground to assess all those issues.”

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