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Jan 28, 2022

Rwanda Students To Return To School

The National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA) has released a nationwide ‘back to school’ transport schedule for boarding students.

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Dec 30, 2021

Over 60,000 Rwandan students fail national exams, to repeat classes

The results released on Monday by the Ministry of Education shows that more than 44,100 pupils and more than 16,400 students performed poorly in the exams and will have to repeat their classes. Data shows that 251,906 pupils sat for the primary leaving exams and 121,626 students sat for the ordinary level leaving exams.

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Nov 15, 2021

Rwanda government sticks to old national exams calendar

Rwanda Ministry of Education plans to maintain initial dates for national examinations for all candidate classes despite previous changes in the second term of the academic year. The national examinations for all levels; primary, ordinary level and advanced level of secondary education will take place.

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May 28, 2021

Kigali of Rwanda confined, schools closed again

Kigali is once again confined. A measure put in place to fight against the worrying increase in Covid-19 cases in the capital. The Ministry of Education had already announced the closure of secondary schools in the capital.

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Repubulika y'u Rwanda/République du Rwanda (The Republic of Rwanda) is a landlocked country in central Africa and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The population is 10,186,063 and the literacy rate is 70.4%. It is the most densely populated country in Africa. Kinyarwanda, which is a dialect of Bantu, is the official language, along with French and English. Until 2009, French was the language of instruction in lower and upper secondary school, but has now been replaced by English.

Civilization in the area of present-day Rwanda can be traced back to the 1st century AD to Twa tribes who were the first Pygmy inhabitants of the area. The Hutus later arrived in the area and were the dominant tribe until the arrival of the Tutsis in the 14th century. The Tutsi subjugated the Hutu and Twa tribes and created a system of serfdom.

In 1884-85, Germany claimed the area of present-day Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi as its own. As a result of Germany's defeat in World War I, the League of Nations mandated that Rwanda and Burundi were Belgian territories and became known as the Territory of Ruanda-Urundi. Following World War II, Ruanda-Urundi became a United Nations trust territory administered by Belgium. Ruanda-Urundi was granted independence on July 1, 1962 and became the countries of Rwanda and Burundi.

In 1959, the majority Hutus overthrew the King who was a member of the Tutsi tribe. In the following year, thousands of Tutsis were killed and about 150,000 were exiled into neighboring countries. The children of these exiles formed a rebel group and started a civil war in 1990 which lasted until April 1994. Approximately 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were killed during that time. The ruling Hutus were defeated by the Tutsis in July 1994. About 2 million Hutus fled to neighboring countries. The first local elections were held in 1999 and the first national elections were held in 2003 as ethnic reconciliation continues.


Education is compulsory from ages 7 to 13. Rwanda's Ministry of Education currently oversees the country's education system.

Primary Education

Primary school is 6 years beginning at age 7 (until 1991, it was 9 years). At the end of the 6th year, students sit for the Concours National d'Accès à l'Enseignement Secondaire which is an external examination that students must pass to continue in secondary school.

Secondary Education

Lower secondary school is 3 years. It offers a common curriculum for all students. At the end of the 3rd year, students are awarded a Certificat de Fin de Tronc Commun.

Upper secondary school is 3 years and offers general academic and technical programs. Upon successful completion of the 3-year program, students are awarded a Diplôme de Fin d'Études Secondaires. A national external examination was recently introduced that is taken at the end of the 3rd year and leads to the Secondary Education Advanced Level Examination Certificate.

Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary studies are offered at the National University of Rwanda which is the only public university in Rwanda, several private universities, as well as public institutes that offer technical and vocational programs.

First Cycle, Academic

First-level university programs leading to the Baccalauréat are 2 years. Baccalauréat programs require a Diplôme de Fin d'Études Secondaires or a Secondary Education Advanced Level Examination Certificate for admission. A Licence is awarded after 2 years following a Baccalauréat. Recent changes in education have introduced 4-year bachelor's programs that require a Diplôme de Fin d'Études Secondaires or a Secondary Education Advanced Level Examination Certificate for admission. Engineering programs leading to the Diplôme ďIngénieur are 2 years following a Baccalauréat.

First Cycle, Vocational/Technical

First-level post-secondary vocational programs leading to the Brevet de Technicien Supérieur are 2 years, and programs leading to the Higher National Diploma and the Advanced Diploma are 3 years.

Second and Third Cycles

Graduate programs leading to the Maîtrise are 2 years and require a Licence or a Bachelor's degree for admission. There are no doctoral programs currently offered in Rwanda.

Rwandan National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education Institutions (RNQF)

In 2007, the Rwandan National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education Institutions (RNQF) was established "to benchmark Rwandan degrees to international standards." Those standards contain an interesting amalgam of British and US educational terminology.

The RNQF includes seven levels, from first year undergraduate through doctoral level (Ph.D.) study: Level 1 represents the first undergraduate year, Level 2 the second undergraduate year, Levels 3 and 4 the third undergraduate year (similar to the US upper division), Levels 3, 4 and 5 the fourth year/Bachelors Degree, and Levels 4 and 5/Bachelors Degree with Honours. Level 6 represents postgraduate education and Level 7 represent doctoral level (Ph.D) education.

It should be noted that the Bachelors Degree is of three year's duration while the Bachelors Degree with Honours is a four-year degree.

The academic calendar includes 15 week semesters, of which there are 12 weeks of classes, one week of "revision" (review/re-taking of tests, in US terms), and two weeks of exams. So, this is a cross between the US 10 week quarter system and 15 week semester system. If we were to extrapolate from the US quarter-to-semester conversion rate of two-thirds, we would transfer Rwandan credits at the rate of 80% (24 week Rwandan academic year v. 30 week US academic year = 80%, or 75% for a 24 week year/a 36 week year). But the Rwandan credit system, CAMS, described below, makes the conversion more straight-forward and much easier.

While most students attend two semesters each year, it is possible to attend a third semester, which makes the Rwandan calendar more like the US quarter system calendar. However, using the new credit system (CAMS) as the basis for transfer of credit makes more quantitative sense and is fairer to the student, as follows:

Credit Accumulation and Modular Scheme (CAMS)

One credit represents 10 hours of class time for 12 weeks; with one year's work representing 120 credits (or 60 hours per 12 week semester). The obvious conversion rate from Rwandan credit hours to US semester hours is to divide Rwandan credit hours by four (120/4 = 30 semester hours per year, and 60/4 = 15 semester hours per semester).

A list of certificates and degrees utilizing the Credit Accumulation and Modular Scheme (CAMS) under the RNFQ follows:

List of Certificates and Degrees utilizing CAMS under the RNFQ
Undergraduate Level
Certificate or DegreeLevelCreditYear (full time)
Certificate of HE1120 at Level 11
Diploma in HE2240: 120 Level 1 + 120 Level 22
Advanced Diploma in HE3300: 120 Level 1 + 120 Level 2 + 60 Level 33 Sem. 1
Bachelor's Degree4360: 120 Level 1 + 120 Level 2 + 60 Level 3 + 60 level 43 Sem. 3
Bachelor's Degree with Honors5480: 120 Level 1 + 120 Level 2 + 60 Level 3 + 60 level 4 + 120 Level 54

List of Certificates and Degrees utilizing CAMS under the RNFQ
Post Graduate Level
Certificate or DegreeLevelCredit
Post Graduate Certificate6Minimum 60 at Level 6
Post Graduate DiplomaMinimum 120 at Level 6
Masters (following an integrated programme from undergraduate to Masters Level study)Minimum 600, with min 120 at Level 6
MA/MSc (name of programme)180 with a minimum of 140 at Level 6
MA/MSc by Learning Contact180 with a minimum of 140 at Level 6
Master by ResearchNot Credit Rated
MPhil/MLitt (named subject)240 with a minimum of 200 at Level 6
Prof M360 Level 6
MPhil (subject not named)Not Credit Rated - Degree by Research
PhD7style="vertical-align:middle;text-align:center">Not Credit Rated - Degree by Research
Prof DMinimum 540 with a minimum 420 at Level 7

List of Certificates and Degrees utilizing CAMS under the RNFQ
Post Experience/CPD Level
Certificate or DegreeLevelCredit
CPD Certificate120 Credits at Level 1
CPD Diploma220 Credits at Level 2
CPD Advanced Diploma320 Credits at Level 3
CPD Graduate Diploma4/520 Credits at Level 4/5
CPD Post Graduate Certificate620 Credits at Level 6

The following "Portfolio of Permitted Awards" is significant in that it is a list of certificates and degrees "which may not currently be offered by a given institution, but which are nationally agreed as awards which may be offered in Rwanda."

Undergraduate Degrees:
  • Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE)
  • Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE)
  • Advanced Diploma in Higher Education (ADipHE)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Bachelor of Technology (BTech)
  • Bachelor of Social Science (BSocSci)
  • Bachelor of Education (BEd)
  • Bachelor of Commerce (BCom)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA (Hons))
  • Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc (Hons))
  • Bachelor of Technology with Honours (BTech (Hons))
  • Bachelor of Social Science with Honours( BSocSci (Hons))
  • Bachelor of Education with Honours (BEd (Hons))
  • Bachelor of Commerce with Honours (BCom (Hons))
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery with Honours (BMS (Hons))
  • Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours (BBA (Hons))
Integrated Degrees
  • Master of Engineering (MEng)
  • Master of Science (MSci)
  • Master of Technology (MTech)
  • Master of Computing (MCom)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Post Graduate Degrees
  • Post Graduate Certificate (PgC)
  • Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
  • Post Graduate Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education (PGCHE)
  • Post Graduate Diploma (PgD)
  • Master of Science* (MSc)
  • Master of Arts* (MA)>
  • Master of Social Science (MSocSci)
  • Master of Education (MEd)
  • Master by Research (MRes)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Taught – named subject – or by research
  • Master of Letters (Mlitt) Taught – named subject – or by research
  • Masters in Professional Practice (MProf) By Learning Contract
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) By thesis
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) By previously produced work
  • Doctorate in Professional Practice (Prof D) By Learning Contract
Honorary Degrees
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Letters (MLitt)
  • Master of the University/Institute (MUniv/MInst)
  • Doctor of Science (DSc)
  • Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
  • Doctor of Technology (DTech)
  • Doctor of the University/Institute (DUniv/DInst)
  • Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Honorary Fellowship
  • CPD Certificate (CpdC)
  • CPD Diploma (CpdD)
  • CPD Advanced Diploma (CpdAD)
  • CPD Graduate Diploma (CpdGD)
  • CPD Postgraduate Certificate (CpdPgC)* (May also be awarded by negotiated learning)

Teacher Education

Primary school teachers are trained in 3-year programs at écoles normales primaries (primary teacher training schools). At the end of the program, students are awarded a Diplôme A2.

Lower secondary school teachers must hold a Baccalauréat and upper secondary school teachers must hold a Maîtrise.



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