AS children we were often warned about accepting lifts from strangers. Well last week I accepted a lift first because at my age it would be so flattering to call me young and an insult to refer to the people who offered me a lift as strangers. And indeed at the end of the day I had no regrets but simply appreciation.
It appears my work on this column has seen me evolve from just a writer to some sort of ‘stakeholder’ as far as education in Rwanda is concerned. I must say for sure that I am enjoying my new role as a stakeholder (yes I will be borrowing that NGO term for today). To this end, therefore, I am sometimes consulted or considered on matters related to education.
So, on Tuesday last week I joined a team of educationists to visit Burera District to understand different activities that NGOs supporting education are undertaking. The group included Damien Ntaganzwa and Herman Maneno from Rwanda Education Board, Gemma Wilson-Clark and Sifa Uwera from DFID, Dorothy Aanyu-Angura from UNICEF as well as Charlotte Phillips, Ruth Mbabazi and Balthazar Ndayisaba from VSO .
After meeting at the Ministry of Education premises at Kacyiru we set off for the trip to the countryside. As we arrived at our first stop, I quickly realised that I needed warm clothing more than a reporter’s notebook. At TTC Kirambo we met with future teachers and observed a class session where one VSO volunteer Kemi Oluwa was showing them how to conduct a participatory learning class.
It was refreshing to see eager learners with a wonderfully skilled teacher. If only such a combination existed then, most of the problems in the school system would be solved. It was also good to know that it is very important to develop an active and participatory curriculum.
Such a curriculum is a sure way of improving quality in our education system, something that seems to be an issue especially now that some cynics are claiming donor money is simply helping to increase enrollment at the expense of quality. It is, therefore, commendable to know that actually some of this money is being directed into the improvement of teaching standards.
We also had a chance to talk to some of the students who are studying at TTC Kirambo about their experiences at the school. For a start, I was impressed that the students were decently dressed and I did not see anyone with sagging trousers. And they spoke fluent English. The classroom walls were literally covered with learning aids something that helped students to understand better what was being taught.
The students told me that they were aware that they were in an excellent school and so they had to work hard to maintain the standards that the school has set. The school has clubs and each student is supposed to belong to at least one club. I was pleased to know that they have a club that offers adult literacy classes to people outside the school.
TTC Kirambo is run by the Brothers of Christian Instruction who are also responsible for the excellence of schools like St. Mary’s College Kisubi, St. Savio Junior School Kisubi, Mugwanya Preparatory School Kabojja, St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School, Kassasa, St. Henry’s College Kitovu, and St. Theresa Girls’ Primary School in Uganda.
They also run Majengo Secondary School in Moshi which is one of the biggest schools in Tanzania, and Duluti Girls’School in Arusha, Tanzania. At TTC Kirambo, we were accorded great hospitality by, the principal, Brother Emmanuel ,and Brother Andre, a Canadian who has been at the school since 2001, and the VSO volunteers Kemi Oluwa, Jayne Waithitu and Rachel Walmsley. Next week I will tell you more about my trip to Burera District.