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Rwanda’s poor education empowers unemployment rate

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Rwanda is a nation which proves to be a leading country in many aspects on the continent, by then, its poor education system delivered among nationals boosts unemployment rate and can be seen as the status quo of slow development among the lay citizens.

Government of Rwanda established the nine years basic education system in 2008 and 2019 to increase the number of educated and fight against illiteracy among the natives. Many classrooms were built but the quantity surpassed the quality.

The Nine Year Basic Education fast tracking programme saw a rapid increase in enrolment, retention and completion at primary and lower secondary levels. The number of students in primary schools increased by 34 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

The overall net enrolment rate in primary schools increased from 91.2 per cent (2003) to 95.9 per cent (2011) with 97.5 per cent for girls. The transition rate from primary to lower secondary reached 94 per cent in 2010 against a 2012 target of 92 per cent; by 2011, it stood at 96 per cent.

In 2012 the government extended the system to Twelve years Basic education to ease the needy to access it. To get at university does not require anyone to be equipped enough but to be promoted.  Over 8000 graduates yearly at university of Rwanda and around 12% become jobless.

 Current status of unemployment rate

For one to be considered unemployed, they must have not be involved in any income generating activity, seeking employment and also available to start work.

Unemployment Rate in Rwanda dwindled to 16 percent in 2018 from 16.70 percent in 2017. It is averaged at 8.58 percent from 2001 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 16.70 percent in 2017 and a record low of 1 percent in 2001. Youth unemployment stands at 21 per cent; men are 13% and women 14% respectively.

The rate of unemployed people who are not educated stands at 10%, unemployment among secondary school graduates stands at 23% while unemployment among university graduates is extremely high. Concurrently, in 2014, a survey conducted by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) found out that over 50% of youth in the five East African countries lack employability skills, technical mastery and basic work-related capabilities.

In addition, Rwanda is among the top 5 countries in the East and Southern African to send the highest number of students to America, according to the 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange data released by IIE and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. As of November 2018, Rwanda was the 9th largest sending country in Sub-Saharan Africa, up from 16th position in 2009 (Open Doors, 2018).


The majority of primary students are criticized not to be able to write and read at least the basic texts written in mother tongue. While some universities and high school graduate are incapable of presenting themselves publically, compose an official letter and not be able to contend on job market.

Possible suggestions to harness the issue

National Strategic 2017-2024, the country has committed to quality education to lead the country’s ambition to become a knowledge-based economy. This can remain a stock of unattainable plans unless education system can be improved whereby participatory dialogue between the elites, scholars, opinion makers and decision makers can harness it. Education is the pillar of all national developmental activities when it is effective, efficient and equitable. Education related decisions should be taken by all concerned actors not a single person at a certain time.

The more the number of people gets education in Rwanda, the more the increase in unemployment tendency grows at rapid pace. University should be given by merit not promotion. In fact, it would be easy to finance them and be able to compete on the job market. Rwanda targets creation of 200,000 per annum by 2020 from the current 140,000. Agriculture continues to be the biggest employer at 45.9 per cent of the population with service sector at 39.8 per cent. Though, the former is still regarded as a refugee carrier to many youths due to Poor attitudes and less attention by the state. Poor education system challenges all sectors as it is the marrow and backbone of the country. Rwanda failed to achieve middle income country by 2020 due to many factors including dormant education system which does not have intact direction. Effective state and active citizens can change the nation if and only if education system has an unbroken vision.

Etienne Mbarubukeye











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