The most recent figures indicate that the literacy rate for 15-24 year olds stood at 84% in 2010, an increase from 57% in 2000 (NISR 2007b), suggesting reasonably good progress. However, this is based on self-definition and not systematic testing (NISR 2007a). Progress is likely to continue as an increasing proportion of young people have had at least some primary education, but it is unlikely that 100% of 15-24 year olds will be literate by 2015.
Progress in reaching the target of a 100% of pupils completing primary school (defined as the number of children completing primary school as a proportion of all 12 year olds) is slower and may not be achieved. It looks challenging and will require concentrated efforts to increase student retention.
The main challenge is keeping children in school once they begin. This can be addressed by improving the quality of schools and education and by schools working closely with parents (IPAR 2009). In addition, more attention needs to be given to learning outcomes and achievements. There is also evidence that parents are more likely to keep their children in school if they will be able to continue to into secondary school. The government's introduction of free basic education, whic enables all children to attend school until the end of the junior secondary phase, and the adoption of the Child Friendly School Standard may have positive impacts on primary school retention and completion rates (Ministry of Education, 2008).
There is also a concern that the recent rapid expansion in primary education has led to a decline in quality. Net on-time completion rates declined between 2005 and 2010, indicating a decline in standards. Incresed late completion is not due to late enrollment because, as previously mentioned, there was a decline in late enrollment over the same period. In 2005, for every 100 children aged seven to 12 years attending primary school there were 21 children over 12 years. By 2010 this figure had increased to 57. The Learning Achievement in Rwanda Schools found that only just over half (55%) of P6 pupils met or exceeeded curicular expectations in reading and that a majority do not meet expectations in numeracy (Ministry of Education 2011). DeStefano and Ralaingita (2011) found poor attainment in Kinyarwanda, English, and mathematics in primary schools and the UK Independent Commission for Aid Effectivness (2012) concluded that the rapid expansion of primary education has led to a decline in educational outcomes.
The proportion of children attending school has increased and by 2010 the net attendance rate at primary school was 92% up from 63% in 1990. There was a rapid increase in primary school attendance rates between 2000 and 2005, likely driven by the introduction of free education, however, progress has slowed somewhat since 2005. The remaining challenge is achieving of a 100% net enrolment rate, a goal which appears to be feasible.
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