The initiative, launched last year by the Ministry of Education aims to decongest classrooms and long reduce the distances travelled by students going to and returning from schools.
The news comes on the same day schools reopened for a new academic year, after roughly a three month break. This is going to be the first academic year to start in October, following changes by the Ministry of Education.
Flavia Salafina, the information, education and communication specialist at the Ministry of Education, confirmed to The New Times that the government is optimistic the construction process will be complete by the set deadline.
She highlighted that progress of the construction is recorded daily, and that the pace was relatively commendable. “Those that are not complete yet are mostly double storied classroom blocks,” said Salafina, adding, “And they are also under some final touches including roofing, cementing the walls, among others.”
She also explained that priority was given to the ordinary classrooms for the primary students. Statistics show that of the total 22,505 classrooms, 17,414 will be for primary schools, 3,591 for secondary and remaining 1,500 classrooms will be for nursery schools.
While the programme is expected to benefit all the 30 districts across the country, districts to receive the most classrooms include Nyagatare where 1,240 classrooms are being constructed, Rubavu District 1,201, Gatsibo District 1,193 and Gasabo District 1,074 classrooms among others.
According to the Ministry, construction is partly funded by the World Bank in its two-phase project. The government has allocated a contribution worth Rwf96.4 billion, in addition to the World Bank’s loan worth US$200 million (around Rwf180 billion) that was signed last year.
However, only US$126 million is reserved for the component of reducing overcrowding, the rest of the funds from the World Bank are allocated to other activities like training of teachers and construction of TTC schools.
Towards quality education
For many years now, the Rwandan education sector has sparked many mixed reactions with most commentators raising concerns about its quality. One such concern was the lack of establishing requisite infrastructure, to among others provide a conducive environment for students to thrive.
More currently, however, experts say that the construction of more than 20,000 classrooms, is a prerequisite to and an integral component of quality education, especially with the new directive of merit based promotion.