While Schools are Out, What Are Teachers Doing?

Talented Rwandan teachers at Bright School in Muhanga, including Emmerance, are leading each other to build their English capacity. They are also practicing new teaching strategies for teaching English with their students.

In Rwanda, like many countries, schools closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When it was announced that classes would resume in September, many Rwandan private schools cancelled teacher contracts. REB put the CBC curriculum on radio and TV. So what was left for teachers to do?

MUCH!

Welcome to Bright School in Muhanga, where teachers—mostly remotely—continue to be fully engaged with their students and each other. It is a small, private, demonstration school for preprimary and primary. During the school year, educators from around the world come to see an integrated, inclusive, hands-on, competency-based curriculum in action. With Rwandan teachers. And Rwandan children, about 40% of whom live in vulnerable families and attend on scholarship.

Here is an exclusive interview with Janet Brown, M.Ed., TEACH Rwanda.

    Janet Brown with two students
    Janet Brown with two students N.B: This image was captured before covid19

  1. who is Janet Brown
  2. Janet Brown, M.Ed.,has more than 50 years of experience educating teachers of young children, including 10 years as a volunteer in Rwanda. She is Founder and President of TEACH Rwanda. This INGO is partners with the Gitarama Presbytery of Eglise Presbyterienne au Rwanda in Muhanga, Premier ECDE Teachers College and African Road in Kigali, and Ready for Reading in Rwinkwavu, as well as the Rwandan Ministry of Education.

  3. How is TEACH Rwanda responding to COVID-19?
  4. On a miniscule budget, our leadership team soon began to invent and implement compassionate, family-centered, precedent-setting initiatives to maintain our school culture of learning through play and projects! Here is what’s happening in Muhanga.

    • Regular phone calls to support Bright School children and families—Our teachers check on family health, remind children to listen to the REB radio curriculum, and especially encourage learning through play and everyday household activities! TEACH Rwanda donors make it possible for our tiny INGO to pay airtime.

      Families, teachers, and even volunteers are thrilled to remain connected! J Lambert, a preschool teacher, “called eight learners at one time” much to the delight of his children! Alphonsine in P1 reports that “Families are happy for our calls. This shows learners that school life continues even if they are not attending.”

    • Emergency food distributions—Three distributions so far…more than 60 vulnerable, grateful Bright School families…porridge, rice, and beans. Cost per family for each distribution is about $17. One family member responded: “Let me appreciate TEACH Rwanda for this act of love!”

      Our emergency-food provision is featured in this video produced by the US Embassy in Rwanda!
      check it here,

    • Mobile Library—Coming soon close to children’s homes! A school bus, stopping around town, where Bright School children borrow from our school library of books and teachers read compelling stories with them (with masks, small groups, hand sanitizer). Our donors are investing $55 a week to promote a culture of reading in Rwanda.
    • Family Activity Guides—Via WhatsApp and at the Mobile Library, teachers share weekly suggestions for pretend play, English enrichment, and other engaging learning experiences at home. Every class gets a unique guide every week! Curriculum is what happens—wherever children are.
    • Teacher English enrichment—English will be the primary language in school, starting in P1, when schools reopen. Our teachers are working independently, in teams, and on-line to improve their English and develop appropriate teaching strategies for young English learners. The group is led by our P4 and P5 teachers. Our weekly cost for this continuing professional development is just $24 for meaningful, practical capacity building.
    • Teacher salaries—We pay our nine teachers and Head Master full salaries—as you can see, they are working! Paying salaries is TEACH Rwanda’s MAJOR capital investment in talented Rwandans, some with 8 years’ experience implementing learning through play and projects! When visiting teachers see them in action in their classrooms, with typical Rwandan children, these teachers understand how the CBC can come to life.
    • Phones for Families—A few Bright School families have no telephones. To assure that children benefit from our outreach, we are providing simple phones, and some airtime, to these families. Inclusiveness and respect are our school culture.

      Value proposition: TEACH Rwanda implements high-quality, accessible education for Rwandan children by building the capacity of Rwandan teachers.

  5. Why is TEACH Rwanda taking a unique pandemic-response path?
  6. TEACH Rwanda believes that every child deserves a high-quality, respectful education, learning through play and projects. In personalized workshops for just 12 preprimary and primary educators at each session, we prepare teachers to focus on engaging learning experiences WITH children. Our demonstration school class sizes are small, too, to assure that children are seen as individuals who can learn at their own pace while building on their life experiences. Children work together at tables.

    More talking images

    While she was at home, Daisy, 3 years old, pretended
    to make amandazi (with mud). Science and math
    in action with local materials!
    Daisy also created this original drawing, just
    like she does at school. She explained it to her
    parents, so they could write her story, just
    like she does at school. Emergent early literacy
    at its finest!
    Pretta, age 10, used bricks to design, build, and label an entire village—at home! She also has baked a cake, harvested peas with her brother, and is sewing. PLAY in projects like these is how children make meaning of their world. Pretta wants to be a clothing designer when she grows up.

    Curious to learn more about modern education for young children in Rwanda? click to Follow us on Facebook, and when school reopens, come see for yourself. Families and visitors are always welcome!

    “In every crisis, doubt or confusion,
    take the higher path—the path of compassion,
    courage, understanding and love.” –Amit Ray

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