Govt unveils $20m plan to improve English proficiency among teachers

PS Mulindwa speaking to teachers about the proposed English proficiency test. Photo/Michel Nkurunziza

The Ministry of Education will over the next two years spend $20 million on improving the proficiency of English among teachers through training programmes for educators who have inefficiencies in the language. 

Samuel Mulindwa, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, said the Government is in talks with British Council to help facilitate teachers to improve their English proficiency.

The initiative will start with a pilot phase in University of Rwanda in this financial year before it could be rolled out in secondary schools in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, he said.

“We’ll offer an English proficiency test to teachers in order to establish their understanding of the language and then support them. The programme will look at writing skills, speaking and listening skills,” he said.

The clarification comes in the midst of speculation among some teachers that those who fail the test will be fired from their jobs.

However, Mulindwa said that the test aims to ascertain teachers’ skills gap and train them accordingly. 

Mulindwa said that when a decision to make English the official language of instruction was taken in 2009, most teachers put in efforts to learn the language but since 2011 majority have been reluctant to learn it.

“This has prompted us to reform the policy because we are observing a lot of gaps in teachers’ English proficiency,” he said.

The country has 63,000 teachers in primary and secondary schools, according to official estimates. 

Teachers’ opinions

The PS was responding to various questions from teachers.

Francois Dimano, who teaches veterinary at EAV Bigogwe in Western Province, said; “We wish that they test us and those who fail should be the ones to undergo the training. Because you might train those who do not lack the skills.”

Joseph Hakizimana, another teacher from Western Province, added: “I have concerns over the preparation of the exam, the way to do it and marking of the exam because there are so many teachers in Rwanda, which is difficult to manage.

We also want to know who will test and mark  those exams because we already know that national exams are prepared and marked by teachers engaged by the ministry”.

Teachers do not have the same skills in English because some did English and literature, others studied science and technology and I am wondering if they will do the same test, he said.

 

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