Prior to 2012, the Rwandan government provided free education in state-run schools for nine years: six years in primary and three years following a common secondary programme. In 2012, this started to be expanded to 12 years. A 2015 study suggests that while enrollment rates in primary schools are “near ubiquity”, rates of completion are low and repetition rates high. While schooling is fee-free, there is an expectation that parents should contribute to the cost of their children’s education by providing them with materials, supporting teacher development and making a contribution to school construction. According to the government, these costs should not be a basis for the exclusion of children from education, however. There are many private schools across the country, some church-run, which follow the same syllabus but charge fees.
From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or English; because of the country’s increasing ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth, only the English syllabi are now offered. The country has a number of institutions of tertiary education. In 2013, the public University of Rwanda (UR) was created out of a merger of the former National University of Rwanda and the country’s other public higher education institutions. In 2013, the gross enrollment ratio for tertiary education in Rwanda was 7.9%, from 3.6% in 2006. The country’s literacy rate, defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write, was 71% in 2009, up from 38% in 1978 and 58% in 1991.