A lesson from Rwanda: The comprehensive assessment management software that scores highly with teachers

In Rwanda, the Comprehensive Assessment Management Information System (CA-MIS), a software application, enables teachers to track students’ progress and grades continuously, encouraging them to engage in critical thinking and become problem solvers.

June 21, 2023 by Natasha Mulenga Hornsby, Educate!, Rogers Patrick Kamugisha, Educate!, Samson Mbugua, Educate!, and Sarah Ndinya, Educate!
6 minutes read
Rwanda’s new curriculum and assessment system encourages students to engage in critical thinking and become problem solvers. Credit: Natasha Mulenga Hornsby
Rwanda’s new curriculum and assessment system encourages students to engage in critical thinking and become problem solvers.
Credit: Natasha Mulenga Hornsby

Euphrosine Muyizere, an upper secondary entrepreneurship (S4) teacher at Remera Rukoma School in rural Rwanda, becomes animated while discussing a new continuous assessment model that supports foundational learning.

“Now, we set questions that encourage critical thinking, that ask students to reflect on different scenarios and become problem-solvers, rather than just memorizing and parroting what I tell them.”

“Under the former methodology I would ask a theoretical question like ‘Define entrepreneurship, creativity or innovation.’ Now, I’ll set scenarios such as, ‘Jean Paul wants to start a baked goods business. Where can he get financing? What sort of challenges will he face? And how can he overcome them?”

To set practical assessments, Euphrosine Muyizere and her colleagues source questions from a bank of tasks created by government exam experts in CA-MIS – Rwanda’s new Comprehensive Assessment Management Information System.

The software application was introduced in 2022 by the National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA) to support a curriculum overhaul. This process built upon the foundational work of the Rwanda Education Board (REB), Building Learning Foundations (BLF), and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), who initially began developing CA-MIS in 2018.

Their efforts, combined with those of Educate! and NESA from 2021, have been instrumental to the project’s progress.

Euphrosine Muyizere, a teacher of entrepreneurship in rural Rwanda, with her students. She says continuous assessment will be more effective with CA-MIS.
Euphrosine Muyizere, a teacher of entrepreneurship in rural Rwanda, with her students. She says continuous assessment will be more effective with CA-MIS.
Natasha Mulenga Hornsby

Education reform began in 2015 when the Ministry of Education launched a competency-based curriculum that will eventually require practical classroom projects, in every subject, with continuous assessment via student portfolios.

During the process, the Rwandan government invited Educate! to provide technical advice on a strategy for including student portfolio scores in national exam scores. The ambitious reforms aim to improve learning outcomes and prepare the younger generation for the labor market, while fostering national socio-economic advancement.

CA-MIS, one of the most innovative policy tools in African education, enables teachers to track student progress and grades continuously. A key function is that it allows teachers to assign practical assessments within a portfolio of projects.

Currently entrepreneurship is the only subject to introduce project work, but eventually students will be tackling problems across the curriculum, from designing a pandemic response strategy in biology to embarking on a tree planting project that combats environmental degradation in geography.

Assessment is based on a rubric with guidelines on grading elements such as teamwork, critical thinking, cooperation and communication skills. The grading function also applies to a module called LEGRA that supports literacy efforts in Kinyarwanda, the national language.

Tracking outcomes in numeracy and literacy through real-time data will allow NESA to support foundational skills by making targeted, evidence-based interventions.

The system was piloted with 120 schools in May 2022 with the Educate! team ensuring that information flowed effectively from the classroom to NESA’s central database. CA-MIS launched nationally 4 months later – before becoming mandatory for all teachers (around 97,000) in December.

Educators hope that this new approach to assessment will gradually reduce emphasis on 1) high stakes exams, and 2) the reliance on traditional pedagogical methods of ‘chalk and talk’ and rote learning. In the near future, student portfolios will account for 10% of their score on the national exam, with the percentage set to increase in the coming years.

As we know, curriculum reform isn’t a magic wand that transforms teaching overnight. Embedding change requires new materials for teaching and learning, as well as a targeted teacher training program.

But early results are promising for an education system moving towards a more skills-based, student-centered approach.

“Students are really excited about the projects since they’re taking concepts they learned in the classroom out into the real world, and speaking to people in their local communities to try and solve their problems," says Sarah Ndinya, Group Strategist, Education System Solutions at Educate! “The teacher now acts as a facilitator and guide of learning, rather than as the fountain of all knowledge.”

An iterative design process

CA-MIS was designed with the end users – teachers – in mind. Together with NESA, Educate! developed the system using an iterative process, continually refining the tool based on user feedback.

An early concern was that an application that only functioned with internet connectivity would be impractical in some Rwandan settings where, despite steady increases, connectivity rates in schools currently stand at 50%.

Recognizing potential barriers to access, Educate! created a USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) platform that allows teachers to use the system online or offline.

USSD platforms, as a no-cost communication protocol for mobile phones (similar to SMS/text), present a useful low-cost solution for areas that might not have regular internet access. When offline, teachers can still use CA-MIS via excel sheets that can then be uploaded to the internet later.

The development of CA-MIS and its launch nationwide were the result of a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Education, NESA and REB alongside Educate!, Building Learning Foundations (BLF), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the World Bank, and Tunoze Gusoma-USAID.

NESA has also requested additional functions for CA-MIS including the possibility to generate report cards indicating students’ continuous and summative assessment scores, with the aim of tracking student outcomes with high precision.

Dr Bernard Bahati, Director General of NESA, shared: “We worked with Educate! to develop a system based on quality assessment data. We wanted to collect information about students’ learning, district by district, analyze the data, then use it to make decisions.”

CA-MIS integrates seamlessly within Rwanda’s existing School Data Management System (SDMS) that houses the unique ID number of every teacher and all the nation’s students (almost 4 million). Training to use CA-MIS adopted a cascade model: in partnership with NESA, Educate! trained designated master trainers in each district who then instructed others.

CAMIS Graphic

Adele Dushimirimana, another recently trained entrepreneurship teacher, believes that knowing more about students’ learning trajectories allows her to plan instruction to meet their differentiated needs. She says:

Teacher Adele Dushimirimana
“CA-MIS pushes teachers to assign projects, because we’re required to upload practical marks for projects and the entire term’s marks into the system, which is a competency-based curriculum (CBC) expectation.”
Adele Dushimirimana

Knowing more about students’ learning trajectories through the report cards enables her to plan lessons that cater to individual needs – a win for the student-centered approach.

Continuous assessment encourages students to engage more deeply throughout the term, rather than cramming at the last minute.

Adele Dushimirimana thinks that her learners will become “more active in class” and the system “is going to encourage them to work hard.”

Students in Remera Rukoma School were inspired to sell knitwear by a curriculum which encourages learners to solve real-world problems. Credit: Natasha Mulenga Hornsby
Students in Remera Rukoma School were inspired to sell knitwear by a curriculum which encourages learners to solve real-world problems. In entrepreneurship, young people learn sustainable, ethical business practices.
Natasha Mulenga Hornsby

Euphrosine Muyizere has already seen positive results with her learners remaining motivated even during vacations. “Students were ringing me during the holidays to tell me that they were applying what they’d learned in my entrepreneurship class. They’d started small businesses making and selling chapatis, knitwear and soap. Their parents were very excited.”

The experience of these entrepreneurship teachers is a testament to the African nation’s bold assessment strategy that aims to transform the behavior of educators and students within the classroom.

By promoting continuous assessment, Rwanda is laying the foundation for young people to develop the essential skills they need for life after school and the world of work.

The recent reforms have the potential to foster the new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders that the country needs. Introducing CA-MIS was a critical piece of the puzzle.


Read other blogs from this series

Related blogs


There might be a bit of misrepresentation about Educate!'s role on this... this was a BLF project that Educate! came on board to contribute the USSD platform to, and eventually they added more contribution. The following paragraph is therefore quite misleading!

"During the development process, other partners such as Building Learning Foundations (BLF), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the World Bank and Tunoze Gusoma-USAID came on board to support the national rollout."

In reply to by Athman Ali

Thank you Athman for this important feedback and discussing this with us offline. We take partner recognition very seriously and hope the amendments to this article properly speak to everyone's role in making CAMIS a success.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • Global and entity tokens are replaced with their values. Browse available tokens.
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.