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Burundi: Towards harmonizing secondary and higher education curricula with national priorities

publie le Monday 14 August 2023
parCommunication and Spokesperson’s Office

The Technical High Schools of Bubanza and Kayero as well as the Technical School of Management of Muyinga are the three pilot secondary schools for the Geology, Mines and Quarries stream, and have been since 2021, according to the Minister of National Education and Scientific Research. Dr. François Havyarimana was reassuring MPs on the sidelines of Thursday’s plenary session on August 10, 2023, devoted to oral questions with debate.

A landlocked country in East Africa, Burundi has a mild climate that favors a variety of crops and is also rich in a range of minerals. It’s no secret that agropastoralism and mineral deposits are the two driving forces behind a country’s rapid development. Burundi, too, is well aware of this, and the population is sensitized to the very core of agropastoralism. Block cropping, vegetable gardens and the rearing of small livestock, including pigs and rabbits, are the order of the day. As for minerals, efforts are also being made to ensure that mining complies with current laws and regulations. Although the mining code has been well-drafted, the MPs were struck by the fact that there is still a long way to go in this area. Given that the mining sector remains the monopoly of foreigners, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve Vision 2040, which projects Burundi as an emerging country, let alone Vision 2060, which places it among the developed countries.

The concerns of the people’s representatives are based on several aspects. Burundi’s mining sector is undeveloped, and the country does not even have adequate equipment. This is evidenced by the fact that existing deposits are exploited using rudimentary means. The shortage of local mineral experts is also a major challenge for the mining industry. Burundians who have been trained abroad in geology have been employed by the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research in inappropriate fields.

According to the Government Envoy, the "Geology and Earth Sciences" course has long been part of the university curriculum. Statistics for 2019 show 116 graduates in "Geology and Mining" and a further 40 at the end of their university course. At secondary school level, the "Geology, Mines and Quarries" course introduced in the three pilot schools will see its first intake of 150 students.

The promotion and equipping of trade schools would be a way out, proposed the MPs, who deplored the shortfall recorded by the Government, which has built schools that are not operating due to a lack of teaching materials and personnel. However, research and technology are essential in the fight to exploit mines wisely, as the plenary session demonstrated, taking the case of the DRC as an example. Increasing production is imperative, it demonstrated.

The Right Honorable Gelase Daniel Ndabirabe, Speaker of the National Assembly, is interested in the training of local talents and ensuring their lucrative exploitation of the country’s various minerals. This concern is in line with a perspective of sustainable economic development and valorization of Burundi’s natural resources. "Indeed, the training of local skills is a major challenge for the promotion of the mining industry and the creation of skilled jobs. This strategy will also strengthen the country’s economic autonomy and reduce its dependence on foreign investors who plunder our minerals without any added value", he concluded.
Regarding those who violate pupils, the Right Honorable Ndabirabe recommends swift and rigorous sanctions. It’s important to stress that such behavior is unacceptable and must be dealt with in the strongest possible terms. He adds that the safety and well-being of students are absolute priorities to ensure a healthy learning environment conducive to their personal and academic development.

What about the level of pupils, who have been plummeting over the years at the post-fundamental level? Is it down to the students? The teachers? The school administration? - asked the plenary.
The ball is in everyone’s court," said the Minister of National Education and Scientific Research. It’s a problem to be analyzed systemically, not in isolation.

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