For any school to emerge among the top three in national examinations, it requires the commitment of every stakeholder; the students, the teachers and the parents. Excella School did emerge No 3 in the whole of Rwanda primary schools; The Headmaster of Excella School presents key cornerstones of the education thinking and practice which guide Exella School.
Qn: Information from REB shows that Excella School shone among the top best primary schools in PLE 2012. How do you feel about this achievement?
Headmaster: Well, as you can imagine, I am overwhelmed by the results – I feel I can hug all our teachers, and, indeed, all Excella candidates who did our school proud.
Qn: Could you share with us what has enabled you attain this outstanding performance?
Headmaster: To be honest, there is no magic power at all. In fact, the recipe is as simple as it sounds – instilling confidence in the learners. Any person who is self-driven and has confidence in whatever he/she is pursuing will naturally succeed.
We never tire from drawing the attention of children under our care, specifically the candidate classes, to the fact that it requires only 2% brain and 98% effort to succeed in whatever you apply your mind to. This driving force is a formidable one considering that all our candidates passed with flying colours – hence placing our school No 3 among all the primary schools in this country.
We have well trained teachers who highly subscribe to this view of education. Therefore, we are talking about the art of persuasion and motivation which propels learners to exceed their expectations.
Qn: But, Mr. Headmaster, that already sounds like magic, doesn’t it?!
Headmaster: No, no – not in the least! Here we are not talking about Rocket Science. We are simply talking what I would say is but common sense. If you want children to achieve high goals, you don’t scare them into achieving them because that may not be sustainable. Instead, you encourage and engage them into enjoying what they are pursuing – and this brings forth very sustainable results.
Qn: Mr. Headmaster, I think that makes sense because when the learners are scared more than they are taught, the effects may be more defeating.
Headmaster: Thank you for appreciating our view of education because it is important for all the people to understand what we are doing at Excella School.
Qn: Tell me more about your approach at Excella School because it sounds very interesting and highly useful. Maybe other schools may borrow a leaf from your thinking and approach.
Headmaster: Thank you. It is indeed my pleasure to share with other educational practitioners in our country so that together we can mould the youth under our care into productive and responsible citizens.
It is quite a long story, but let me sum it up under our school vision and mission. Excella School seeks to help children to grow up into creative and independent-minded adults. To achieve this vision, Excella School has the mission of offering a teaching-learning environment which engages the learners, encourages them to feel free to participate in lessons, and explore the different possibilities available in the learning process. We consider these to be the appropriate inputs into the process of bringing forth critical thinkers.
Qn: Now, Mr. Headmaster, this sounds like the ultimate in educational delivery. Convince me that Excella School vision and vision translate into reality on the actual ground.
Headmaster: That is indeed, a good question. Most people think that creativity entails Rocket Science, like I have already mentioned. No. Creativity is simply the capacity to think in a different but better way. If you can put into action that thinking, this becomes a bonus.
Excella learners sometimes tell their teachers and parents how better to do certain things. This is creativity. Rocket Science entails high-level scientific creativity. If our children’s creativity is stifled in infancy, how can we ever expect them to engage in high-tech scientific creativity when they graduate from our universities?
Qn: Well put Headmaster, and this is quite appealing. And now, how about independent-mindedness you also talked about? How is that possible with children? I thought we have to think for them, not so?
Headmaster: Yes and No!! Yes, in a sense that there are certain things over which kids cannot make a choice. For instance, they can’t choose not to go to school (education is a must). Yes, in a sense that they can choose which school they wish to attend, not so? If this is accepted, then I wish to tell you that Excella nurtures that inert quality we all born with – the ability to tell bad from good. Therefore, independent-mindedness is the capacity to think for yourself and firmly hold onto your views, resisting other views which do not make sense to you.
On certain issues, Excella kids sometimes raise their points of view, and successfully defend them against those of teachers – including those of administrators. So, here we are. I leave it up to your imagination what so far these kids do in their respective homes – and, indeed, when they grow up, what they will do for Rwanda, and their respective countries for those who come from abroad/overseas.
Qn: Mr. Headmaster, I am indeed overwhelmed. For now, let’s leave it at that with the hope to come back and we talk more about this interesting education approach.
Headmaster: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about our school and education thinking which informs our educational practices here at Excella.