Kigali is fast becoming the go-to destination for events linking industry practitioners and it is more than just the pristine streets and emerald vistas which make Rwanda ideal. In fact, Rwanda is leading the way in the development and implementation of innovative strategies for fast growth across many sectors, including education.
Since Rwanda’s 2008 decision to change the language of instruction in upper primary and secondary schools to English, the education sector has been diligently engaged in upgrading the language and methodology skills of basic education teachers. This was furthered with the launch of Rwanda Education Board’s (REB’s) new competence-based curriculum for sustainable development. Such major changes have required not only visionary leadership but also commitment from the primary implementers: teachers.
Teachers are key to Rwanda’s goal for high-quality basic education. Innovative strategies, such as school-based mentorship and school-based in-service trainings, have engaged teachers to take charge of their own skill development. Peer learning, sharing of best practices through communities of practice, and engagement in online learning and networking through the teacher communities of practice (TCOP) Portal are all examples of how Rwanda’s teachers are contributing to the growth of the country’s bold education vision.
This week, local teachers will play a key role in showcasing that vision to educators across the continent as Rwanda hosts the 2nd annual Africa TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Conference at IPRC Kigali in Kicukiro. The conference theme, “New Horizons in Language Teaching,” will provide an intellectual platform for scholars and practitioners alike to share and discuss ideas that will take the African English language teaching profession to the next level.
Over 300 delegates from 20 countries are expected to attend and sixty presenters from across Africa and beyond have been invited to give workshops, teaching tips, and research papers on a range of topics addressing best classroom practices, communicative language teaching, testing and assessment, and more. More than a third of delegates will be local teachers who will not only benefit from expert presenters but will also serve as ambassadors of Rwanda’s commitment to high-quality basic education.
The conference is hosted by The Association of Teachers of English in Rwanda (ATER), a volunteer-based international TESOL affiliate formed in 2011 that supports teacher Communities of Practice (CoPs) across the country. It is further supported by Africa TESOL, a regional body founded in 2014 to create a united front for English language practitioners in Africa, as well as by the United States Department of State Office of English Language Programs.
As delegates flood into Kigali this week to participate in a multitude of high profile events from the African Union Reforms to Transform Africa, it is fitting that we also open our arms to welcome the educators who work tirelessly in and out of the classroom to develop our leaders and innovators of tomorrow.
The writer is an education specialist based in Rwanda