Governments of Rwanda and Zimbabwe yesterday concluded deal under which Zimbabwean teachers will come to start teaching when the academic year opens in January.
Immediately, 273 teachers will be for the secondary school level and another 33 for vocational institutions or TVETs.
The latest development is similar to a period between 2005 and 2010 when the Rwandan government welcomed influx of Ugandan teachers.
The Ugandans, especially English teachers were on so much demand that the High Commission in Kampala published advertisements in Ugandan media.
There were even Rwanda-Uganda Education Expos held to entice the Ugandans to move over. They got lots of incentives, far exceeding what they got back home.
In virtual signing ceremony, Rwanda’s education minister Dr Valentine Uwamariya and Zimbabwe’s public service minister Paul Mavima put pen to paper this Thursday afternoon.
The MoU on exchange of educational personnel and expertise follows a Zimbabwean trade mission in September where President Paul Kagame revealed the country urgently needed English teachers. He said Zimbabweans could fill that void.
The arrival of Zimbabwean teachers will replace Ugandans who had to leave as relations between Kigali and Kampala broke down. Since March 2019, Rwanda has publicly accused Uganda of planning regime change in Kigali. The Ugandan authorities also claim Rwandans are sending spies into their country to destabilize it.
Various efforts to try to diffuse the situation have yielded nothing.
The exact scale of Ugandan teachers in Rwanda was not static, as they came every year. It was not just education, but hospitals and other professions too.
For example, as of February 2019, Nyagatare district alone which borders Uganda, had 188 teachers living and working in the district – mostly teaching in private schools. That was just one of 30 districts. The full numbers could have been in the thousands.
The coming of foreign English teachers are part of government efforts to improve learning as its own assessments show the education system was struggling because of low competencies of teachers.
There are also Kenyan teachers working mainly in elite schools.