REB starts in-house production of teaching materials

Pupils during a reading session. File.

Teachers from across the country can now access some teaching and learning materials produced by Rwanda Education Board (REB) after the latter last year took over the production of the materials from private contractors.

REB officials say the move is aimed at ensuring that all materials are available on time and conforms to the local context with Rwandan values and culture.

It is also said the move will ensure efficient use of resources compared to the previous arrangement.

Irénée Ndayambaje, the Director General of REB, told The New Times last week that so far, 46 volumes of 20 subjects had been completed and are already available electronically for users while mass printing is expected to be done by June.

The new content which is available can be used by students in the first and second terms and that they are working on content for the third term.

Late last year, REB announced it would create its own publishing house to produce teaching materials for primary and secondary schools in the country.

Officials believe that the books are all in line with the new competence-based curriculum and conform to international standards.

“So far, the draft content that can be used for term one and term two is already available on the REB website and soft copies have also been distributed to schools. Term three will be developed soon and distributed as soon as it is ready,” he said.

The content is written in the Rwandan context whereby tasks and activities of learners are based on the learner’s socio-cultural environment to match the content with the real experience.

“It will promote positive attitudes and values among learners. Besides, the in-house textbook production is a homegrown solution that promotes Made in Rwanda,” he added.

REB has always maintained that most, if not all, publishing houses that were contracted also subcontracted the work to foreign publishing houses.

He said that the in-house textbook initiative is a result of various challenges encountered in the procurement process and associated challenges.

“Some of the challenges include delays in delivery of textbooks to schools, errors in the books, and some core subjects for advanced level and elective subjects for all levels did not have textbooks because publishers were not interested in producing them due to the low quantity to be purchased,” he noted.

There was no copyright on the purchased textbooks from publishers making it impossible to digitalise and easily make corrections.

How it works

“As soon as the materials are developed, they are immediately distributed in soft copy to all schools. REB, as the owner of the copyrights, will digitalise the content to promote the use of ICT in education and will help in reviewing the materials when needed,” Ndayambaje said.

The exercise is being implemented by REB subject specialists, teachers from secondary schools, lecturers from higher learning institutions, subject experts from the private sector and Non-government institutions as well as individual experts in various subjects, according to REB.

External quality assurers will read the developed content during a validation exercise before mass printing of the textbooks.

Teachers, developers speak out

Teachers have welcomed the exercise saying it would avail content which fits local values; reflect Rwandan culture as well as history unlike previous case when even science experiments and examples given to learners did not fit the local context.

“The experiments given to the students are tailored to our everyday life and this helps learners to understand easily,” said Alphonsine Mukawizeyimana, one of content developers and a Mathematics and Physics teacher at GS Notre Dame du Bon Conseil in Gicumbi.

Jean Léonard Buhigiro, a history lecturer at the University of Rwanda for over 20 years, said in-house production was one way of seeking home-grown solutions and will help learners get international content in a domesticated manner.

“For instance, if we are teaching the French revolution, we need to look at lessons that can help Rwanda, like how social inequality, which is one of causes, can be avoided, among others,” said Buhigiro, who is also a quality controller for the new teaching materials.

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