Aug 8, 2016

Update August 2016

Katy during a teacher-training session.
Katy during a teacher-training session.

Education East Africa Quarterly Report

UPDATE FROM KIGALI

8th August 2016

Greetings from Kigali, Rwanda. The sun is beating down and it feels airless out on the streets. The city traffic relentlessly fumes the atmosphere and the hundreds of motorbike-taxis weave dangerously in and out. We drive out of the city, heading north, and soon we get onto the quiet mountain roads which twist and turn steeply up then steeply down. We are in the land of a thousand hills, and the scenery is green and brown with trees, crops and houses.

After about forty minutes we are in the vicinity of the four schools which are our project schools. High up the air is clean and the views are spectacular. In the classrooms and in the staffrooms our work is underway.

Back in May, I got my work permit in six working days, and my foreigners’ ID card within three working days. The processes were conducted efficiently by charming officials. I bought a second-hand car, and got it re-registered within two hours, and that involved getting a ‘tax identification number’ from the Rwanda Revenue Authority. Working here is a ‘breeze’ as the officials are efficient and fully trained in customer service. The bank has a ‘take a numbered ticket’ system and provides chairs while you wait. The longest I’ve waited so far is ten minutes. The banks are open until 8pm, the shops until around 10pm, and so the working person is fully looked after.

We are now members of the ‘Teacher Professional Development Technical Working Group’ which is organised by the Rwanda Education Board with the donor-organisations working in teacher development. This means that we are kept abreast of policies and implementation programmes, and generally who is working on what. We have forged good links with DfID (the UK Department for International Development) and the British Council, both of which are active in the primary education sector.

We had a large meeting, hosted by the Gasabo District Education Officer, with head teachers, teachers of English and representatives of parents in order to ensure that everyone is aware of the project and how it is conducted and its aims. Everyone was very enthusiastic and particularly grateful that the project is a committed, hands-on project. The schools have already been part of more general projects in which they received some initial training and a follow-up visit once a term which they lamented was not very helpful to them. We are in each school for one full day each week, conducting teacher-training with all the teachers of English together for at least an hour, and then working hand-in-hand with the teacher of P1 (the first year pupils) in the quest to teach English as a foreign language. One of the participants at the meeting put up his hand and then asked, “Madam, is this not too much work for you?”! With the drive to the schools, and the school day starting at 7.20, it is a lot of work but we have our goals and I am now sure we will work together to reach them.

The classes are large, the children are young (arguably too young to be learning a foreign language in this context) and the teachers are mostly young and not confident with their own English. The government textbooks to accompany the new curriculum are still not ready. We have our work cut out. However, the overriding factor is that the teachers and head teachers are keen to be helped, and keen to improve how they teach their pupils. They are supported well by their sector education officers and the district education officer.

We have started well, and we are monitoring our work by taking videos of classroom teaching, and asking the teachers to write their views and feelings in journal books we have provided. The key to the success of our project will be how well we can involve government officials, and to gain their commitment to take on our work if they see the benefits of it.

These are early days, but I am filled with renewed vigour as I see the prospect of helping the teachers and pupils to gain a good understanding of English as a solid foundation for their future school work.

All of you who donate are crucial to the success of our work here. Built on our years of experience working in primary education, teaching English and developing and using our NOEC English books, and given the stage of education development in Rwanda, I am certain we are in the right place at the right time with the right project.

Thank you all so very much.

Katy Allen
Director
Katy@EducationEastAfrica.org   


Education is the Passport to a Self-Sustaining Life
www.EducationEastAfrica.org   

Primary 1 at Gasabo school w/ their teacher Claude
Primary 1 at Gasabo school w/ their teacher Claude

Links:

May 11, 2016

Update from Kigali

Kigali, Rwanda
Kigali, Rwanda

Education East Africa Quarterly Report - May 2016

UPDATE FROM KIGALI

The great news is that our NGO, Support to Primary Education Rwanda (SPER), was approved and registered at the beginning of April. This is the partner organization with which Education East Africa will work in Rwanda.

Anne Samson arrived in Kigali on 7th March for two weeks. The trustees with Anne had a workshop on the Theory of Change. This was an illuminating session run by Karen, a Dutch consultant living in Kigali who gave her expertise for no payment. Karen advised that many projects have not received the recognition they deserve because of lack of a firm relationship and agreement with government officials. We are well placed to work with the government as two of SPER’s trustees are members of the President’s Education Commission. With their connections we are working on a list of criteria to be agreed with the government for acknowledging the success of our project in various stages, and the subsequent actions required of the government and required of us. 

Anne and I, with Ivan our translator, and with the District Education Officer for Gasabo District visited the four primary schools which have been allocated to us as our project schools. These are government schools in a rural part of Gasabo District, Kayanga, Rutunga, Gasabo and Gikomero primary schools. We met the head teachers and had time to talk to the teachers of English. All of them are delighted that help with teaching English is coming their way. Many of the teachers shared their disappointment with the current textbooks as they lack guidance and help for the teachers. However, the teachers were also concerned about what time they would have for training on our project. The schools already have two shifts in order to cater for the numbers of pupils enrolled, and so the teachers are tired with little spare time for training. These concerns will form part of our negotiations with the district and government officials, although much of our training takes place in the classroom.

The head of teacher development at the Rwanda Education Board was available to meet Dilly and me only after Anne had left which was a shame. I have met him on several occasions and we have a good rapport. He asked me to write an appraisal of the new curriculum for teaching English in the first four years of primary school. The new curriculum came into use in January this year. It is a new ‘competence-based’ curriculum. I produced a very detailed analysis which highlighted that much of the new curriculum takes little account of the learning of the structures of the language, and misses many opportunities to introduce topics in ways better suited to child learners. I hope to be able to expand on this exercise and to share my views with the Minister for Education. The Minister and I exchanged text messages (such is the way of working in Rwanda with the ready use of technology and an understanding of immediacy) and he will meet me again, at my request, when we have more feedback from the teachers on our training.

The Chair and Vice Chair of the trustees of SPER met the Mayor of Gasabo District in mid-April to introduce him to the detail of our project. The Mayor is arranging some more meetings for us so that officials, teachers, and parents who will benefit from the project can be together to discuss and plan the project’s progress.

The NOEC books continue to be translated into Kinyarwanda so that the teachers’ books have explanations and instructions in the teachers’ native language. We now have Books One and Two, both those for teachers and for pupils, in sufficient quantities in Rwanda for use on the project. Book Three is being translated.

The systems in Rwanda are properly set out and followed. In turn too those in office are serious about getting their work done. Initially it takes time to comply with the regulations and to get everything underway, but the structure is reassuring. I am enjoying the work ethic here, and the ability to enter into detailed discussions with officials is stimulating. With my co-trustees here we are starting with all the right procedures and agreements in place to ensure the success of our project.

I thank all of you who donate for understanding what it takes to do our work, and appreciating that all our experience and commitment to long-term work is what will transform the teachers’ ability to give their pupils the quality primary education they deserve and need.

Many thanks indeed, and happy summer days to you all.

Katy Allen
Director
www.EducationEastAfrica.org   
Education is the Passport to a Self-Sustaining Life
Katy@EducationEastAfrica.org   

 

 

 

 

R-L Katy (3rd) & Anne (6th) at a Planning Workshop
R-L Katy (3rd) & Anne (6th) at a Planning Workshop
Katy at Gikomero Primary School
Katy at Gikomero Primary School
NOEC book 1 used for work in Primary Year 1
NOEC book 1 used for work in Primary Year 1
NOEC book 2 used for work in Primary Year 2
NOEC book 2 used for work in Primary Year 2

Links:

Feb 18, 2016

Update February 2016

12th February 2016

The new Minister for Education in Tanzania was announced just before Christmas. Dr Joyce Ndalichako now holds office. Dr Joyce was previously head of the national examination council, and then lectured at the University of Aga Khan in Dar es Salaam. When Barbara, Dilly and I went to present there as part of the Research Series Seminars in February 2015 Dr Joyce was the host for the event. Dr Joyce then encouraged us to present at the LANES international conference on literacy and numeracy, which we did in July 2015. I wrote to Dr Joyce to congratulate her on her appointment, and she replied, “Thanks and pray for me so that I can be able to fulfil the expectations of Tanzanians”. We are looking forward to an appointment to see her in the Ministry of Education.

For that appointment and for other purposes, I have been producing a video in the UK about the NOEC books for teaching English as a foreign language. These books are unique in that the teacher’s guides are in the teachers’ native language so that the teachers can easily read and understand explanations and instructions about the grammar, usage and teaching methods. Book One is now additionally in Kinyarwanda for our work in Rwanda, and Book Two has been translated into Kinyarwanda but is not yet printed. The video, which will be accompanied by a written document, is to be used as a way of gaining exposure about the books, and to reach higher levels of government across East Africa.

Sara Green approached us in 2015 about helping with our work in early-years learning. Sara runs her own nursery school in West London. Sara is arriving in Tanzania this week. Sara is to help the teachers of pre-primary pupils. The emphasis will be on educational play with the aim of developing motor-skills and thinking skills, with literacy and mathematics as a focus. This is part of our partnership with the Dutch organisation F T Kilimanjaro.

In Rwanda the trustees of our new Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) have been working hard to get the NGO approved. The new NGO is called Support to Primary Education Rwanda (SPER) and the chairman of the trustees, Emmy Nyrigira, has submitted the application. In Rwanda there is an efficient system, and indeed the Rwanda Governance Board oversees all matters pertaining to non-corporate organisations. There is a prescribed process and every step has to be complied with. The steps to be followed are clearly laid down:

  1. Application Letter Addressed to the CEO of Rwanda Governance Board;
  2. Authenticated statutes in conformity with the law no 04/2012 of 17 February 2012;
  3. Document showing the Organization’s head office and its full address;
  4. The name of the Legal Representative of the Organization, the name of his/her deputy, their duties, full address CV and their judicial records;
  5. The minute of the general assembly which appointed the legal representative of the organization and the signatures of all the members that attended such a general assembly meeting;
  6. Action plan for the fiscal year (July 1st, 2015 to June 30th, 2016) according to the format below
  7. Original District Collaboration letter

Emmy as chairman of the trustees is the Legal Representative, and Allan Mugabi is his deputy. Another trustee, Andrew Kettlewell, has worked with me to prepare the Action plan with budget. I will be in Kigali on 25th February ready to set up a bank account in the name of the newly registered SPER, and to start work in the District, and to continue my struggles in learning the Kinyarwanda language!

Anne Samson will join me on 7th March for two weeks. Anne and I will meet education officials, particularly those involved with pre-service training for primary school teachers, to discuss our contribution to primary education in Rwanda.

Thank you to all our donors for supporting our work. Our current work is based on our experience over the last 22 years with the teachers and pupils in the primary schools, with officials at various levels in government, and with the syllabi and textbooks which are the root cause of so many of the problems being encountered. We continue to promote our feasible solutions, which through our pilot work we know bring good results. Many thanks to all of you who help us in our quest.

Very good wishes, and happy spring time.

Katy Allen

Director

www.EducationEastAfrica.org  

Education is the Passport to a Self-Sustaining Life

Katy@EducationEastAfrica.org  

 
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