On April 24, Acorns International School (AIS) wrote to parents asking them to raise $1,500 which is equivalent to 90% of school fees to “enable school maintenance and pay for teachers who are busy planning, recording and uploading online lessons for students.”
“These are unprecedented circumstances for all of us, so we request your utmost patience and cooperation, while we work out the best solution, in the given situation,” AIS said in a letter which KTPress has seen.
Two days later, parents wrote back requesting the school to reduce the charges to at least 50% citing difficulties of some not earning during the Covid-19 lockdown. However, the School said this was not possible and parents have to abide.
“If you still feel it is not what you would like/expect for your child, we encourage you to seek what is best for your family. Every school has its strengths and weaknesses, and as parents, it is you who decide what is most important in your child’s journey through seeking knowledge and education,” AIS said.
Rwandan students and pupils have up to this September to return back to normal school learning according to the new government measures aimed at preventing spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
This may look like a long six months break from school since mid March when schools were closed among other activities.
Though some students have been learning using digital online methods and tools provided by the Rwanda Education Board (REB), international learning platforms; students, parents and teachers have been left with many questions about what will happen between May and September.
While government teachers have been receiving their salaries on time private schools have started temporarily terminating working contracts with their lecturers citing financial difficulties.
Others, like the case of AIS, are proposing several options to parents.
The Ministry of education says that on one side, private schools should find a common ground with parents, while on the other, the Ministry will also come in to provide whatever support that is possible.
“ We will discuss with school administrations to find a solution especially for private schools,” Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education in the Ministry of Education Gaspard Twagirayezu said on Saturday in a televised talk show interview.
He added that though private schools will be helped in a specific way, they too should be looking for better solutions for the government to build on what they have done.
“For instance instead of terminating teacher contracts, they can reduce salaries, or ask for an affordable contribution from parents, so that they all survive through these tough times,” Twagirayezu said.
What will happen between now and September?
For now the ministry said students in primary and secondary can continue to use digital learning platforms to sharpen their skills but they will not be evaluated on that when schools restart in September.
For Primary and secondary schools under government programs, come September, they will resume their courses from Semester one or in other words, they will start afresh though the first semester was nearing the end when the lockdown was declared.
For Parents who have been worried of schools demanding for students school materials (scholastic and sanitary), once school resume, Mineduc said that school administrations should desist from asking for more.
For parents who think that schools would return them the money they paid in school fees, the ministry said that parents should not consider as if the schools did nothing to an extent that they should return the money.
In the meantime, children should not relax while at home.
The ministry of education said that though eLearning is not 100% effective compared to a classroom setting, it will continue to be used for the remaining months for both students and pupils on existing platforms.
“We know the eLearning platforms are not getting to all, though helpful they won’t replace the normal school programs. That is why we are training more teachers so that they help the students catch up once schools resume,” he said.
For University students however, come September they will have an accelerated program to finish the year from where they stopped.