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Oriented Towards Action: The Politics of Improving Education Quality in Rwanda


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Timothy Williams. DSA 2015

Published in: Education
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Oriented Towards Action: The Politics of Improving Education Quality in Rwanda

  1. 1. Oriented Towards Action: The Politics of Improving Education Quality in Rwanda Timothy P. Williams, PhD Honorary Research Fellow School of Environment, Education and Development University of Manchester, UK
  2. 2. Introduction • Formal education in Rwanda – Core to economic and social development • Access vs quality: – More children from poor households have more access to more years of schooling – Low literacy and numeracy; low completion rates; repetition rates increasing • Argument: – The drivers that have led to Rwanda’s most impressive gains have also presented a set of challenges to improve education quality
  3. 3. Dominant developmentalist framework • Incentives rest with longer term goals rather than shorter term rent extraction – Good governance – Decentralization of service delivery – Performance contracts • Coalition for primary education – Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, DFID, Cabinet, and President of the Republic
  4. 4. Key reforms and outcomes • Key reforms – 9-Year Basic Education (2008) – English language (2008) – 12-Year Basic Education (2010) • Primary school outcomes – Enrollment: 88% in 2012 – Low levels of literacy and numeracy – Completion rate: 76% in 2010 to 61% in 2014 – Primary repetition rate: 18% in 2013
  5. 5. Illustrations from fieldwork • Decentralization policy: – Empower PTC and head teachers – Innovation by schools • Incentives: – Performance contracts: measurable outputs (e.g. classroom construction) rather than learning outcomes • Teacher training and recruitment: – Re-centralization of teacher training to improve English – Challenge of attracting enough qualified teachers – Low financial incentives for teachers in rural areas
  6. 6. Provisional conclusions: Oriented toward action • Longer term goals rather than rent extraction • But why aren’t education outcomes better? – ‘Oriented toward action’ ≠ coherent policy approach • Performance contracts: outputs vs outcomes • A case of ‘high modernism’? • Expanding access is politically popular and easier – “You can’t have quality without access” – Social development