Kagame reiterates need to use English as education medium

President Kagame chats with school children during a visit to Ecole Primaire d’Application de Kimihurura (EPAK), in Kigali yesterday. (Photo/PPU)

•Pupils demand for Laptops

GASABO – President Paul Kagame yesterday stressed the urgency in the process of using English as a medium of education in all Rwandan schools, saying it is a choice Rwandans have to make if they need development.

He said this while visiting Ecole Primaire d’Application de Kimihurura (EPAK), a primary school located in Kimihurura, Gasabo District.

“The kind of education we want for our children is that which is in line with the vision in place for the development of our country…we have to prioritise the language that will make them competent when they get on the labour market after completing school,” the President said while meeting the teaching staff of the school.

He said that it is better to use a language that is widely spoken across the globe as Rwanda tries to reach as many countries for business opportunities.

“For example, in our region apart from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a French speaker going to the other countries would have to use the services of an interpreter,” he said.

He added that even in Europe, of the more than 20 States that make up the continent, there are not more than three where the French language is spoken.

“In the rest of the countries, no one will have time for you if you speak French,” Kagame pointed out.

A cabinet meeting last week directed the Ministry of Education to expedite the programme that will make English the medium of education in all government-funded schools right from primary level to institutions of higher learning.

According to minutes of the meeting, the major reason for this is to make Rwanda more competitive in both the East African Community and the International Community at large.

“We have to make a choice on language depending on which languages the countries we stand to benefit from most use,” said Kagame.

The President also emphasized that the major reason is not to just master the English language but the knowledge to be gained in other disciplines like sciences.

“It is not just the languages that will develop this country but the knowledge we get using these languages…emphasis should be put on science subjects like mathematics,” he told the teachers.

He urged the teachers to always emphasise discipline in their pupils saying that knowledge without discipline is useless.

During his visit to the school which has 695 students, the President conducted a class-to-class tour and interacted with pupils from primary one to six. According to the headmistress, Dancille Mukacyemayire, , EPAK has a teaching staff of 15.

The President lectured the pupils on discipline and being patriotic and working hard in class to become responsible future citizens and leaders.

The children had time to list out their problems the most  prominent being the acquisition of laptops to help them in school.

After a series of similar requests from the school children, the President suggested that a temporary measure be taken before the school benefits from the countrywide One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme.

“Let them first get demonstration PCs at least one per class as they wait to benefit from the one laptop per child programme,” the President instructed Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education.

Other problems that were raised by the pupils included the lack of an equipped library that has English books which would help them adapt to the language faster.