REB unveiled the Competence Based Curriculum for Sustainable Development to guarantee a better quality of education.
The Ministry of Education under REB in 2015 unveiled a competence-based curriculum for pre-primary (nursery), primary and secondary. The new curriculum will help meet the demands of the country’s vision and the dynamic global skills market demands.
The curriculum points out that learning and teaching were previously found to be teacher-centred; while teaching itself was heavily reliant on students copying notes from blackboards. The new curriculum, rather, is centred on the competences of students, providing them with critical skills to enhance their competitiveness on the labour market. It ensures that so many theories in lessons are replaced by hands-on skills.
Active engagement in learning is crucial to implementing the new curriculum and unlike the previous curriculum which focuses more on theoretical knowledge, the new one aims to engage students in doing more practises and discussions in order to empower them with both skills and analytical tools. It emphasizes the importance of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.
In pre-primary, learners are being helped to discover their literacy and numeracy. Social skills are being discovered through play based learning.
In primary, there is an increase of subjects: seven in lower primary and eight in upper primary. All of them are compulsory. There is an introduction of French and ICT in primary schools, and the school year has been extended to 39 weeks per year instead of 36.
In lower secondary, core subjects are 13. These include an introduction to vocational subjects, and Introduction to French, English Literature and Swahili. All of them are compulsory and will be part of national exams.
The teacher management and professional development department (TEMP)
The introduction of a Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) in schools called for a big shift in paradigm for teachers. It re-quires comprehensive change and new thinking with regard to instructional approaches in teaching, learning and assessment processes.
It was important that teachers are trained in CBC because learners have an equal right to receive good quality education according to the new curriculum.
The first phase of CBC training started in 2015-2016. So far two phases of training that focused on learner centered and competence based methodology have been completed across the nation and the 3rd phase is to take place December-January, with focus on formative assessment practices.
During the training, Sector Education Officers (SEO) coordinated the training at sector and school levels.
At District level, the district as an employer for teachers supervised trainings conducted at sector level and made sure that all teachers were trained.
There has also been improved efficiency of national examinations and movement of key online services through continuous assessment involving formal and informal methods being used by schools to check whether learning is taking place.
New competence-based national exams will begin in 2018.
Another success is the revision of the School Based Mentorship Programme to ensure mentorship in pedagogy and English language takes place at every school [TEMP Department].
One mentor for every primary and secondary school was chosen from highly qualified teachers at each school and under direction of school leadership, SBMs conduct school-based in-service [SBI] to build teacher professional development.
The use of a real-time monitoring system is used to gather and track school-level monitoring and evaluation data [EQSD and ICT Department] and for monitoring education as a whole.
The online & offline platform used by REB Inspectors and all Sector Education Officers to collect data on school and teacher performance and conduct monthly themed questionnaires on topics such as the implementation of the new Curriculum has helped improve students’ performance.
Another boost in the education sector is the efficiency in the procurement and distribution of Rwanda-specific text-books aligned with the new Competence Based Curriculum that has helped student across the country to access the require text books.
Progressing towards quality education
Quality in education is at ‘the heart of education’ and requires a number of improvements that involve a focus on teacher motivation through professionalization, training, working conditions and resources – they are at the core of quality education delivery.
Kageruka Benjamin, the Head of Education Quality and Standards Department at Rwanda Education Board said that quality standards in education are very important in the country’s education system. The education sector’s funding has increased year on year to meet the growth of student populations, school expansion, teacher and staff recruitment, and remuneration and teaching resources.
The deployment of qualified teachers has improved in recent years and the curriculum framework has been reformed from knowledge-based to competency-based with continuous assessment.
Relevant curricula serving the needs of students, communities and the labour market are at the core of education as a foundation for effective teaching and learning.
There is now a great opportunity to achieve the Vision 2020 by addressing the issues of quality improvement and increased access side by side – to ensure an optimum balance between increasing access and improving quality.
The presence of adequate water and sanitation facilities impacts favourably on the quality of a child’s school experience, and girls’ pass rates on national examinations have improved as much as 30% over the past 7 years. In-service training requires on-the-job follow-up through mentoring and coaching with appropriate monitoring for quality assurance. Teacher motivation has been somewhat enhanced through savings programs and low interest loans (Umwalimu SACCO).
Setting quality standards
The Department has, in the last seven years, been responsible for setting standards and norms for quality education in Rwanda.
It has also set standards and norms for school construction, supervision and monitoring. The main role is enforcing quality standards including the general inspectorate of education in collaboration with district authorities, head teachers of nursery, primary and secondary schools.
“We have organized school inspections to establish how students are taught, inspected the teaching environments, teacher-student ratio, the facilities plus the hygiene and ascertaining whether they are in position to operate,” says Kageruka.
The department has put up regulations in the last seven years and one being that schools seeking to commence should particularly fulfill these standards be-fore being licensed.
Another achievement is in the training of inspectors, teachers, head teachers and staff of schools in collaboration with the other services concerned with this activity.
This unit has 5 regional inspectors whose responsibilities are to arrange for and conduct inspection of schools in the districts that fall under their jurisdiction.
They participate in establishment of the standards for quality education and make follow ups on the implementation of educational legislation and policy.
Regional inspectors follow the implementation of programs and other official instructions from the Ministry of Education and of school education in the region under supervision.
Also among their duties, they have to follow up on how teaching and learning take place, the environment and assessment of how the administration of schools in the region under his or her supervision is conducted.
REB has 30 pedagogical school inspectors for all the 30 districts who are supervised by 5 regional inspectors; one for each province countrywide. Their responsibilities include inspection of schools and the teaching and learning of all subjects at all levels of schools.
There has been a lot of improvement in service delivery of teachers and the teaching process in the last seven years.
This is mainly because the pedagogical inspectors on a daily basis are identifying and analyzing problems related to programs, textbooks and other materials as well as examining and inspecting teachers in all subjects and preparing inspection reports on each teacher.
They are also providing advice and suggestions to teachers on innovations in learning and teaching of all subjects plus preparing quarterly and annual reports on the status of the teaching of all subjects.
Increase in the numberof school constructed
The number of schools constructed under the school construction unit has increased in the past seven years. Today a total of 15,453 classrooms, 30,416 la-trines and 416 hostels have been built in the last seven years.
Also from 2011 to 2017, a total of 122 science laboratories have been constructed and fully installed in schools around the country.
The department has been participating in the budget preparation and execution for education infrastructures by identifying projects, conducting feasibility studies and preparing budget proposals.
Also they analyze the standards for educational infrastructure and determine requirements for space, furniture and equipment as well as preparing cost estimates and specification of materials for Education Infrastructure.
The unit has developed policies and established norms, standards and regulations for the construction/rehabilitation of educational infrastructures such as classroom buildings and sanitation facilities.
Last but not least, the unit has supervised, controlled and monitored construction works as well as maintained school infrastructures and has participated in handing over school buildings.
Introduction of management tools
Head teachers of government-owned and government-aided private schools now have standard regulations which they can use in day-to-day running of the schools particularly in areas like organization, teaching and learning, school infrastructure, school equipment and school curriculum etc.
One of the tools REB has is the “Lesson Evaluation Sheet” which helps to track the pedagogical aspects that are evaluated.
The sheet is used to inspect the teacher’s teaching documents, and to see that the learner’s documents are maintained on a regular basis. Another tool is the “School Inspection Form” which helps record data like which type of school, classes with double shifts, number of staff per school, number of students, teaching staff, teaching materials, infrastructure and equipment.