INVESTING IN TEACHERS
BY ERNEST NTAMUGABO, QUALITY EDUCATION TEAM LEADER (RUBAVU)
We believe in the saying that “teachers are more precious than gold for a nation,” and that Nelson Mandela was right when he said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” My vision for Rubavu teachers is to continue to equip them with new quality education techniques to help them implement the Competence Based Curriculum. In doing so, they will be able to empower those pupils who are the future generation of leaders who will be responsive, responsible, and relational citizens of Rwanda. We want to see Rubavu teachers transformed into competitive teachers nationwide that will make Rubavu one of the two best performing districts in Rwanda.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING TOWARDS THIS VISION IN 2019?
Early in the year, we observed teachers’ lessons, gathering baseline data to allow us to track their progress, and then provided constructive feedback to encourage these teachers in their noble work. In April, we conducted our first training with teacher multipliers (teachers trained directly by Wellspring and equipped to train their peers). Our first unit focuses on “Exploring Worldview and Values” and helps teachers to understand how different worldviews affect teaching and learning, and how they can integrate positive values into their lessons. In May & June, while continually supporting Rubavu’s school leaders, we held school meetings for all teachers where we shared and discussed the worldview training. Then in July, we conducted our second training unit with the teacher multipliers, this time looking at “Behaviour Management.” Through this training, teachers learned positive techniques to help implement positive discipline in their classrooms. Some of these activities are pictured below:
WHAT KIND OF CHANGE ARE YOU WITNESSING AMONG TEACHERS?
There are strong testimonies from teachers about positive changes, even though our work with these teachers is only just beginning. Here are some teachers’ own words:
Bwitereke Groupe Scolaire: “Before this training, I was very harsh and used a stick to correct pupils. Through a story of a fellow trainee, who shared about a teacher who broke his finger and how this had shaped his worldview negatively, I felt that I needed to change. That story has become mine, and changed me immediately because I realized how I was negatively impacting my learners. I have decided to change my behaviour of being like a terror in my class, because I have found that this behaviour negatively shaped learners’ worldviews, and this does not make learners feel free or more comfortable in my class.”
Kirerema Primary School: “Kirerema is situated near the road and there is no fence. Learners used to run after cars and would snatch things from cars. After learning the importance of values and demonstrating them in daily life, and being advised on the importance of shaping children in a holistic way that impacts their heads, hearts, and hands, teachers took responsibility to advise learners to stop that bad habit – and this has been respected.”
Umubano II Groupe Scolaire: “When I was a student, most teachers used to beat learners who came late to school, or those who failed to answer a question. Since I learned in those conditions, it made me think that the good way to manage my class was to use a stick – but learners did not feel free and it was causing conflict among students, teachers, and parents, as well as absenteeism. Nowadays, after being trained by Wellspring, I have changed the way I manage the class. In my teaching, I try to develop learners through the gifts of head (knowledge), heart (real feelings), and hands (skills). This has made my learners more active; they are now punctual and friendly; they help one another during activities and freely share ideas. They are self confident learners and think independently. Nowadays, it does not require a stick to manage the learners’ behaviour; it requires only that their teachers exemplify this good behaviour.”
HOW IS THIS CHANGE IMPACTING STUDENTS & CLASSROOMS?
Following our April worldview training, teachers went back to their respective schools and started to share what they had learned with their colleagues. It was amazing to see how the teachers started sharing freely through the WhatsApp group they had set up for multipliers across Rubavu. They spoke of what they were experiencing as they implemented the values in their lessons, shared the challenges they had met, and suggested ways in which they can overcome those challenges. As a result, this peer learning spirit was developed at their schools and brought unity among them.
Teachers have also testified that, since values such as unity have been introduced in their classrooms, children have started visiting fellow students who are sick or who have lost family members. They have started to develop a culture of supporting one another. Fights among children have reduced, and when quarrels do happen, other students take responsibility for reconciling those who are in conflict, bringing peace and harmony among them.
At Bwitereke Groupe Scolaire, prior to our training on introducing values in schools, teachers from the primary and secondary sections would not share lunch together. However, after this training, the leaders and teachers went back to their school to mobilize teachers, explaining that sharing lunch will actually solve some issues they face, such as afternoon lateness and teacher absenteeism. They all contributed a little money and nowadays they all share lunch, which has facilitated their work and improved welfare at the school. Makoro Primary School had a similar experience, with teachers now happy and united after learning that nothing can be done when the society and school community is not cohesive. Sharing lunch at Makoro Primary brought that value of cohesiveness among teachers and has also tremendously reduced afternoon lateness and teacher absenteeism.
HOW CAN OUR PARTNER COMMUNITY PRAY FOR YOU?
We appreciate your prayers for …
God’s provision to enable us to do this noble work of transforming Rwandan communities through education.
A growing understanding among teachers that teaching is a moral business, and that the development of early childhood education in public schools is crucial.
Our country, especially our Western region, for God to annihilate Ebola in this region so that it may not impact those we work with.