During the Rwandan genocide, approximately one-fifth of Rwanda’s total population was killed and many were forced to flee the country. The supply of experienced teachers was devastated.
Over the past 15 years, VSO has worked with the Rwandan government to help improve the quality of education across the country.
Teaching after the genocide
Twenty years after the genocide, the teacher shortage remains severe in Rwanda. Children are often taught in classes of up to 80 children. There is a shift system to cope with the number of children, resulting in them only receiving around four hours of education per day.
Unqualified and inexperienced teachers are common, often resorting to the “chalk and talk” method, which is less engaging for young children.
As a result of all this, many children do not complete their primary education, and leave schools lacking the basic education they need to break the cycle of poverty.
VSO volunteers work in teacher training colleges and schools, boosting their ability to turn out more teachers, who are better equipped and encouraged to use more interactive, learner-centred approaches.
Just last year we trained 50,800 future educators as well as 31,200 in-service teachers worldwide.
In Rwanda, Mike Ashby, a VSO Teaching methodology adviser worked with 30 teachers in 15 schools in the Karongi district to encourage and equip them with the skills to teach engaging lessons.
One of the teachers Mike works with is Marcel Bakanirora, who said:
“I’m very happy with the new method of teaching...before being trained by Mike, we would normally stay in the classroom and only write notes. Now, when I want to teach the children about plants for example, I take them outside and show them the real plants...the children are happy and enjoy lessons now.”
Impact of volunteers
The aim is for Marcel and the other teachers Mike works with to share their ideas and skills with other teachers in their school, creating a ripple effect, meaning more children benefit from engaging lessons.
Mike was just one of 33 Teaching Methodology Advisors volunteering in Rwanda in 2014/15; he says,
“We’re all working towards that same goal of improving the standards of education in Rwanda which hopefully will have an amazing effect on the whole country.”
Through this network of volunteers VSO aims to ensure that children in Rwanda have access to engaging and interactive lessons which will keep them in school, and equip them with the skills they need to break out of poverty.
Work to be done
Rwanda is not alone in having a shortage of teachers. It is thought that the world will need an additional 27 million teachers if we are to put every primary school-aged child in a classroom by 2030; VSO is working on teacher training in 16 countries. Could you volunteer?
Teachers in Rwanda, and in many other less developed countries, often work long hours for little pay, and may travel great distances to reach the school they work in. Teaching may be undervalued as a profession, further reducing the morale of educators.
Over our time working in the education sector we’ve gathered research that has contributed to wins for teachers including higher pay, better insurance and improved policies. Find out more about our work championing educators.
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