The Ministry of Education says only six universities have been cleared to reopen fully with all students attending either online or physical teaching in classes while other universities will be allowed to reopen with only finalist students resuming studies to complete their academic courses.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, while speaking at a government press conference aimed at giving updates on the New Coronavirus National response and Economic recovery, said that all universities and other levels of education will reopen gradually, while taking precautionary measures.
Dr. Uwamariya said that six universities fully cleared to reopen in mid-October by all students attending physically teaching in classes or online include African Leadership University (ALU), African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA), Carnegie Mellon University-Africa (CMU-Africa) Global health equity (UGHE) and Oklahoma Christian University.
Other universities and tertiary institutes will be allowed to reopen, but with only finalist students from year three, four, and year five given priority to finalize their academic courses for students to make sure that social distancing guidelines are observed.
The gradual reopening is aimed at ensuring space between students, to make sure physical distancing is observed and combat spreading of COVID-19
The Ministry of Education announced the reopening of schools during the press conference held on 2nd October 2020, after the ministry of health and Higher Education council Rwanda (HEC) assessing the preparedness of preventing the spreading of the pandemic.
The universities and tertiary institutions allowed to reopen for only finalist students attending physical teaching include the University of Rwanda (UR), Rwanda Polytechnic, Kibogora pyrotechnic, Mount Kenya, Institute of Applied Sciences, among others.
“We are starting to reopen schools gradually, with universities and tertiary institutions starting in mid-October,”
“Only six universities will be allowed to start fully because they have all the requirements in place, they presented possible ways to make sure physical distancing is observed at the campus premises. Other universities will also reopen but with finalist students being given priority,” Uwamariya said.
She added that “The finalist students will start, finish their studies and give a space for other students to resume. The universities were assessed, they complied with online learning at the rate of 90%. Other students will continue learning online and others can also attend physical teaching in classes.”
Uwamariya said year one and year two students from universities and tertiary institutions will continue learning online.
The Minister’s comments follow a cabinet resolution of Friday, September 25, 2020, which stated that schools will resume a gradual reopening in the coming weeks based on levels of education.
Last week, the Uwamariya told media that in line with complying with the physical distancing guidelines – at least one meter between a student and another should be adhered, only one student will sit on a desk – which is different from two or more students per desk that were a common situation, especially in primary and secondary schools before the pandemic broke out.
The schools will be reopened gradually following the further assessment conducted by the ministry of health and ministry of education.
Since the official closure of schools on 16 March this year, the government started using various strategies for the reopening of schools, but also to protect children from Covid-19.
Among the preparations to safely reopen schools in the construction of an estimated 22,000 new classrooms across the country and recruitment of new 28000 teachers to improve student to teacher ratio.
The recruitment intends to bridge the student-teacher ratio gap which stands at 59:1 in Primary and 29:1 in Secondary to an average of 46:1 in both levels.
Other preparations include the establishment of handwashing stations in schools to improve hygiene and sanitation.