Education in Rwanda is divided into primary (1st – 6th grade) and secondary (7th – 12th grade) levels. The government of Rwanda has made primary education free for all children, although families do have to bear the cost of school related expenses like uniforms and books. Secondary education in Rwanda is not free, however the Rwandan government provides a limited number of merit based scholarships to some secondary school students. Students with strong test scores can place into government funded public schools that are much cheaper than private schools. Rwanda also has a number of vocational schools that train students in various professions (ranging electricians to hoteliers).
Although the Rwandan Government has made primary school free for all children, additional school-related expenses prevent the poorest of Rwandans from taking advantage of this free education. Uniforms, school supplies, books, food and transportation are among them. At the secondary level, students who do not qualify for government scholarships need to pay a small fee to attend school. Often, this fee is equal to or greater than a family’s entire annual income and cannot be paid.