On 12 March the Ambassador of Belgium to Rwanda Benoit Ryelandt along with the Head of Cooperation Johan Debar visited some of the VVOB supported schools in Rwamagana district, Eastern Province. The visit is in the framework of the Embassy’s periodic visit to the activities of the organisations supported by the Belgian Development Cooperation.
Promoting effective school leadership
One of the visited schools was G.S Nyagasambu, a nine years basic education school with six years of primary and three years of secondary education. The school head teacher Canisius Habyarimana completed a continuous professional development (CPD) diploma course in 2016, through the Learning Outcomes in Primary Education (LOPE) programme supported by the Belgian development cooperation. The programme focussed on promoting effective school leadership, and on preparing future teachers in primary education for a learner-centred pedagogy.
After touring the school that has about 4,000 students, Ambassador Benoit Ryelandt and Mr Johan Debar had an opportunity to interact with students, the school leaders and teachers. The school leader highlighted the role of CPD programmes in improving learning outcomes at their school.
“The school now has a vision, mission and values. The training taught me to collaborate with everyone to improve the school. We work with parents, the school community and local leaders to address issues like students’ absenteeism, drop out, among others. I also learnt to delegate powers so that activities can be done effectively. As a result, students are performing well. For example, the students’ success rate increased from 85 per cent in 2017 to 90 per cent in 2018 in primary school, while it increased by six per cent in secondary education,” Mr Habyarimana said.
Preparing future teachers in primary education
Ambassador Benoit Ryelandt and Mr Johan Debar also visited Bicumbi teacher training college (TTC) in Rwamagana district as well as a practice school near the TTC. All tutors at TTC Bicumbi were trained on learner-centred pedagogy, while the principal was trained in effective school leadership through the LOPE programme. As was the case in the previous school, the Ambassador Benoit Ryelandt and Mr Johan Debar also interacted with students, school leaders and teachers.
Daniel Musabyimana who was trained on learner-centred pedagogy, shared how the training helped him to improve teaching. “I learnt different action teaching approaches such as brainstorming, story-telling and problem-based learning which are helping me and my colleagues to implement the new competence-based curriculum effectively. We all adopted the new learner-centred approach, and teachers are now facilitators. Many thanks to the Belgian Government, your support is very much meaningful,” he said.
Making a difference
According to Rugemahica Jean Baptiste, the deputy principal at TTC Bicumbi, the CPD programmes have contributed to students’ performance. “The success rate in the national examinations has been increasing. It increased by two per cent, from 98 per cent in 2017 to 100 per cent last year, and there is no doubt that the training received from VVOB played an important role in this,” Mr Rugemahica said.
The Rwamagana Vice Mayor in charge of social affairs Jeanne Umutoni present during the Ambassador’s visit, urged VVOB supported schools to make a difference. “You should take advantage of the training you have received from VVOB and perform better than schools who have not yet benefitted from such great opportunity.”
Ms Umutoni also commended the Government of Belgium for supporting the education system in Rwanda. “Training teachers is empowering the whole community. This is why we thank the Belgian Government very much for your valuable contribution,” she said.
Appreciating schools’ achievements
For Ambassador Benoit Ryelandt, it is impressive to see how teachers are committed to improve the education system. “I am impressed not only by the good assistance of VVOB to improve education in the country, but also by the will to make the best use possible on the side of the schools. This is very encouraging. I would like to congratulate you, teachers and leaders, on your achievements. I appreciate your willingness to be good teachers, I encourage your staff to continue your efforts. I also express my encouragement to VVOB, local leaders and all education stakeholders in the education system—it is a good team work,” he said.
The success of VVOB LOPE programme brought in more partners to support CPD programmes. The CPD training programmes have been running in primary schools in four districts in Eastern Province and two districts in Western Province since 2017 with support from the Belgian Government. In 2018, and as part of the Mastercard Foundation’s Leaders in Teaching Initiative, the programme has been extended to 14 additional districts with an overlap of three districts. Leaders in Teaching is an initiative that transforms teaching and learning in secondary education across Africa so young people have the skills and competencies they need to succeed in work and life.