Leonard Banyiture has been a mentor teacher since 2015 at G.S Rambura Garçon, a secondary school located in Nyabihu District, Western Province. Though Mr Banyiture was selected among other teachers to be a school-based mentor, he lacked confidence in his ability to help over 30 teacher colleagues but didn’t know why. It was not until he attended a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Certificate programme on Educational Mentorship and Coaching, that he understood what he was lacking.
The certificate programme is part of the Mastercard Foundation’s Leaders in Teaching 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. The training started on 13th July 2018, in 14 districts, the first of three planned cohorts. It is designed for secondary school-based mentors and sector education officers to equip them with effective tools and skills to facilitate professional development activities in schools.
Paving the way for mentor teachers
The overall responsibility of a mentor teacher is to build the capacity of teachers through training, mentoring and coaching. Mr Banyiture attended the first three-day training session in Nyabihu District, Western Province like other mentor teachers in the district. During this training he realised why he was not able to assist his colleagues as expected.
“My understanding about CPD was vague. In this session, I realised that I had limited knowledge about mentoring and coaching. I was doing it superficially and in an unorganised manner. I learnt that coaching is about helping the coached learn through conversation… what I was doing was not real coaching, rather it was teaching,” Mr Banyiture said.
“I gained more knowledge about mentoring and coaching methodology and approaches. I learnt that effective coaching and mentoring requires a common understanding and shared goals between school leaders and teachers. For instance, the school management wouldn’t support me to skip some activities in favour of mentoring and coaching my colleagues, as CPD is not initially planned on the school timetable,” he added.
Mr Banyiture’s worries disappeared
In addition to the training of mentor teachers and education officers, head teachers and deputy head teachers in charge of studies will also undergo a CPD diploma course in Effective School Leadership beginning in October. Part of what they will learn is effective implementation of CPD.
When Mr Banyiture knew that school leaders will also be trained, he felt assured. “Carrying out CPD activities at my school will be easier as we will have the same understanding and move in the same direction. And this is just the beginning, I expect to gain more insights in the next three sessions,” he said.
Shedding light on CPD coordination
Martine Niyigenga has been the education officer of Muyumbu sector, Rwamagana District in Eastern Province since January 2018. She has held this position in different sectors for the last six years. As a sector education officer, she oversees and coordinates all education activities. When she attended the training on mentorship and coaching for the first time she was able to identify major issues she was not aware of before. These include limited knowledge about CPD and its implementation, lack of an induction system for new teachers in schools, among others.
“I used to be a teacher before I was appointed as an education officer, but I didn’t know that there was need for an elaborative plan for an induction system for new teachers. I only knew that new teachers would be assisted when a need arises,” she said.
Ms Niyigenga also didn’t know much about professional learning communities (PLC). “I would set an agenda and call head teachers for a meeting and thought this was enough. However, I learnt that there is need for a peer learning platform (PLC) where head teachers share experiences, lessons learnt, best practices and discuss the way forward for outstanding issues,” she said.
“Headteachers need to schedule some hours for teaching so that mentor teachers can have time for CPD activities,” Dr Ndayambaje recommended.
The Mastercard Foundation’s Leaders in Teaching is an initiative being implemented by several partners including VVOB in close partnership with the University of Rwanda College of Education and the Rwanda Education Board. In addition to the two courses for mentor teachers, education officers and school leaders, a CPD certificate course in Educational Mentorship and Coaching will also be offered to Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics teachers (STEM). It is expected that more than 700 schools in 14 districts will benefit from this programme during the next four years.