Refugees and asylum-seekers in Rwanda have access to the national Rwandan education system at all levels: pre-primary, primary, secondary, TVET and higher education.

The Government contributes to the cost of education and school feeding for students in public and Government-subsidized pre-primary, primary, general, or technical and vocational secondary schools. Refugee students who want to attend university normally have to find funds such as through scholarships as the national study loan is not accessible to refugees & asylum seekers.

More information is detailed below:

Public and government-aided schools are free of charge for refugees and Rwandan nationals.

Despite this parental contributions are required for the cost of school feeding in line with the national school-feeding guidelines which standardize school feeding and parental contribution across different level of education. All school-going children are provided hot meal at school.

The cost of school uniforms, scholastic materials, and national examination fees are also expected to be covered by the parents or caregivers of the children.

For refugee schools located in or near refugee camps, UNHCR and partners subsidize the cost of school feeding and provide scholastic materials to vulnerable refugee families. For more information, please contact your nearest school or the UNHCR office in your locality.

  • Pre-Primary: The entry age to pre-primary is 3 years old – and a child who completes a pre-primary cycle is given a document that confirms completion of the cycle.
  • Primary: The official entry-age to primary education is 6 years old. Primary education is compulsory and free both in public and Government-subsidized schools. Primary education ends with a national examination with the award of a certificate. The successful learner continues with the first cycle of general secondary education.
  • Secondary: The official age of admission to secondary education is 12 years old. Secondary education has two cycles – the first cycle is also called ordinary level of education which lasts for 3 years and is completed by the national examination with the award of an ‘O’ level certificate. Successful learner will continue with the 2nd cycle of general or technical and vocational secondary education. The 2nd cycle of secondary education is comprised of three fields of study as follows:
    1. a combination of various courses of science, humanities, and languages.
    2. a combination of professional courses
    3. technical and vocational education from level 3 to level 5.
  • At the end of the 2nd cycle, students will sit for a national examination and get Advanced level certificate which is a requirement for admission to university level education. Post-secondary education opportunities are available at the vocational, and university levels at the cost of the individual student or through scholarship.

Higher education is one of the key priorities to build the knowledge and the capacity of future generations, helping them to be change-makers on the road to their future. UNHCR’s education strategic approach aims at enabling individual learners to use their education toward sustainable futures. UNHCR liaises with national universities and higher learning institutions in the country and beyond to increase opportunities for refugees to increase opportunities for higher education programme.

In Rwanda, a national student loan is not accessible to refugees and asylum-seekers. Refugees are consequently expected to find funding for higher education costs through scholarships or other means.

Opportunities in Rwanda include:

DAFI Scholarship: DAFI Scholarship is one of the long-running refugees-focused scholarships in Rwanda, providing higher education opportunity for undergraduate students. The scholarship covers all education fees and living costs during the studying period. UNHCR together with an education partner manages this programme. Opportunity for scholarship is announced through a wide range of communication platforms as soon as the opportunity is made available. Eligible students can submit an online application form when call for application for DAFI Scholarship opens.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program: Implemented through a Pan-African and global network of more than 40 universities and non-governmental organizations, the Scholars Program is strengthening the higher education ecosystem by encouraging inclusion and accessibility, innovation in teaching and learning, research and collaboration across critical sectors and stakeholders (  UNHCR engages higher leaning institutions who are already partnering with Mastercard Foundation for increased opportunities for qualified young refugee in Rwanda to apply for this scholarship. UNHCR collaborates with refugee-led organizations, refugee community structures and NGOs to increase awareness about various scholarship opportunities for qualified young people we work with in Rwanda.

Other University Level Scholarship Opportunities:   The following organizations are also providing scholarship for higher education.

Complementary education pathways are higher education opportunities through which refugees are admitted to a third country, and access education opportunities.

UNHCR regularly shares details of such opportunities available for refugees to apply for.  The application processes and success of being accepted by universities outside of Rwanda is an individual effort the candidates.  If successful, however, UNHCR is available to support refugee applicants with travel documentations and other formalities.

The following link provides more information about this opportunity:

Refugees who attended general education (primary and secondary) outside Rwanda can apply for the equivalency certificate provided by the National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA). More information can be found in the link below:

The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) coordinates education policies, strategies and programmes at national level and is supported by affiliated entities including the following: The Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB), The National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA), The Rwanda Technical Vocational Education and Training Board (RTB), The University if Rwanda (UR), Rwanda Polytechnic, Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO (CNRU), The Higher Education Council (HEC), and Decentralized/Local entities (District, Sector, Cell) level education.