As the government seeks to increase efforts in implementing Rwanda’s Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP2013-2018), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is assisting Rwanda Education Board (REB) to enhance implementation of the new curriculum named competence-based curriculum (CBC) by training Rwandan teachers on efficient and effective way of teaching so as to improve quality of education in primary and secondary schools.
The current support is through the project, “Supporting Institutionalizing and Improving Quality of School Based In -service Training (SIIQS) running from January 2017 to December 2019.
It is complementing other main previous projects which JICA supported such as “Strengthening Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education (SMASSE)” from 2008 to 2011.
SMASSE project provided training of trainers (teachers) to improve teaching of science and math teachers in secondary schools.
The project conducted a baseline survey to evaluate situation in teaching quality and environment where as immediate challenges to be addressed, identified as insufficient laboratory equipment, teaching materials, lack of opportunities for science experiments, as well as the common practice of the teacher-centered method.
To build capacity of targeted secondary schools teachers, JICA experts trained teachers on exploiting locally available teaching materials to develop laboratories for facilitating experiments. Meanwhile, SMASSE developed a large-scale training system often referred to as “cascade training model” which allowed many teachers an easy access to the training.
However, the challenge was that the trainees did not embrace the culture of sharing the acquired skills from the training with their colleagues.
Therefore, another project “School Based Collaborative Teacher Training (SBCT) project (2013-2015) was launched where trained teachers had to share knowledge and skills through the system called “School-Based In-service training (SBI)” and peer education.
The SBCT project initially targeted lower secondary level and trained leaders such as District Education Officers (DEOs), Sector Education Officers (SEOs), Head Teachers (HTs) and representative teachers to create SBI nature in schools. Nearly 2000 leaders in 19 districts participated in SBI induction workshops.
While promoting SBI, the induction of the new curriculum in 2015 called for massive demand on teacher training to equip all teachers with competences needed for new curriculum implementation. To address the demand, REB developed the advanced training model which is a combination of nation-wide cascade training and SBI. The cascade part ensures efficient training delivery across the country and SBI engages all teachers in peer education to enhance CBC proficiency. This decision eventually expanded SBI for all levels and schools. REB and JICA joint survey in 2016 indicated that 88.4 % of schools in the country conducted SBI and 95.2% of teachers were involved in it.
New curriculum implementation
There is a need of providing learning opportunity for teachers to overcome the difficulties during the implementation of CBC by sharing acquired skills.
JICA is helping to develop the clear strategy to support teachers’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD) as well as strengthening CBC implementation.
The support is under the current project dubbed “Supporting Institutionalizing and Improving Quality of SBI (SIIQS)” to last from 2017 to 2019.
It promotes ongoing trainings at schools where teachers have to share their experience and knowledge to improve their lessons and thus realize higher academic performance of students.
It is envisaged that by the end of the project, 39, 370 teachers at primary schools and 18,593 teachers at secondary schools mainly in mathematics and science subjects and learners will improve teaching and learning through continuous support from JICA experts, such as development of “model CBC lesson video”, which can give teachers clear image to apply CBC concept and approach into their daily lesson.
Forum on District and Sector CPD Committee to support teachers’ CPDThe project is also expected to strengthen problem-solving capacity by promoting institutionalization of District CPD committees (DCC) as well as CPD of teachers.
Despite the JICA support in establishing DCC, some districts have not yet established them.
Therefore JICA in conjunction with REB organized the National DCC Forum on Friday 26th January 2018 to give opportunities to participants to explore how the DCCs and Sector CPD Committees (SCC) as sub committees can contribute to teachers’ CPD and learners’ achievements.
The forum was attended by District Directors of Education, District Education Officers, Sector Education Officers, Head Teachers, teachers, principals of teacher training colleges (TTCs) and development partners who work for teacher education.The DCCs incorporated as one of the activities to achieve strategic priorities in Rwanda’s ESSP2013-2018 help to improve the coordination among stakeholders to promote teachers’ CPD.
The DCC forum discussed how CPD organized from district to school level on efficient and effective teaching can be harmonized at each level through DCCs and SCCs and the way for addressing challenges faced by teachers.
Claudien Nzitabakuze, the Head of Teacher Education Management and Professionalization Department at REB said the forum was timely to strengthen the culture of sharing skills and addressing different challenges in teaching.
“Three years have elapsed after CBC launched. As it looks to reinforce more learners’ active participation, getting skills and competency that can help to solve different problems, it requires training teachers on methods for implementation.
So far three phases of trainings have been almost completed of which the latest was preparing teachers on how they ask questions and assessment based on the new curriculum teaching methods which will help students improve the performance in exams.” he said.
“Because we provide training from national, district to sector level by training trainers of trainers, JICA helps us to reach a teacher at school level through the system named “School Based and In-services training where trained teachers to share skills with others and discuss issues regarding the new curriculum implementation,” he added.
“In Meiji era, which started in 1868, the government of Japan emphasized the importance of education for development of the country and made tremendous effort to elaborate education system as well as provide quality teacher training for realizing quality education throughout the country.
We are in the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Meiji era, I would like to reemphasize the importance of quality education for the development of the country and appreciate organizing this forum, which is the evidence of Rwandan government’s effort to improve teacher education, which is the key for the better learning of pupils.” JICA Representative Takada Hiroyuki said in his speech at the DCC Forum.
SCCTestimony on good practices
The forum shared experience and good practices in improved teaching skills and how it has improved pupil’s performance level in exams.
Eric Uhoraningoga, Head Teacher at E.P Munyaga, Munyaga Sector in Rwamagana District shared how his school overcame the challenge they had of poor performance and now is one of the best performing schools in the district.
“ There was a time when parents had started to refuse sending their children to our school due to poor performance. We had to make all the efforts we could do with the assistance of our SEO to overcome that challenge”, he said.
The HT shared the best practices from his school and sector, and how the school overcame the challenges it has and now has become a high performing school. He stressed much on collaboration among teachers at school and himself as the leader of the school his attitude and commitment to his work and the follow up on his teachers. He also mentioned about the importance of CPD of teachers at school. The school organizes SBI, activities every Wednesday afternoon. The School Based Mentor (SBM) is also given an opportunity to train all teachers and reports the activities conducted to the HT. The HT organizes regular visits to the classrooms and observe teachers’ lessons, where he gives feed back to the teachers.
Another good practice he shared is that every day, at 6.30 Am, pupils do the self-learning in their respective classrooms. That one hour has been helping them to finish the program on time and spare some time for revisions before the exams. Pupils are also involved in lots of tests and reading competitions. There is also a strong involvement of the parents through SGAC, those are a few to name but they have lots of best practices worth to be shared!
Eric Uhoraningoga, the head teacher of Manyaga Primary school In Rwamagana district said that different trainings by REB and JICA have enhanced teaching skills and the way of sharing skills among the teachers at school.
“The parents had started to refuse sending their children to our school due to poor performance. We had to make use of the training and encourage teachers to share the skills so that parents gain trust in our school .Teachers would take an hour to share the skills gotten from the training with other teachers who were not trained. Then up to 2017, they had improved and positively impacted on pupils performance,” he witnessed.
He said that he also does follow up if teachers put in practice acquired skills from the trainings.
“Previously there used to be teacher- centered method where they could not give opportunities to pupils to have active participation and putting it in practice. They would never work in groups. However this has changed up to the level where a pupil can teach their classmates in group and the teacher intervenes where they fail,” he added.
In recent exams all pupils performed well and that 15 of 100 got excellent marks to join excellent boarding schools according to Uhoraningoga.