Working to improve learning outcomes in English and Mathematics for 2.6 million children in Rwanda
Creativity at Ecole Primaire Cyendajuru

In Huye District, Ecole Primaire Cyendajuru is located in Simbi sector.  It is one of the schools fully embracing the support of the Building Learning Foundations programme. Being located in one of the last districts to commence the programme, it is a mere six months since the first ‘self-study toolkits’ were introduced to teachers but already  significant changes in teaching and learning are being made at the school.

School leaders feel very positive about the programme and believe it is unique and important  because of the structured follow-up support received after orientation days, helping to embed the knowledge gained through the tool kits. 

The school’s deputy-headteacher said, “The monthly visits from the Sector Learning Facilitator Jean Marie provides teachers with the necessary motivation and reassurance that they are progressing well with self-study.  He provides crucial advice on how teachers can transfer knowledge learned from the toolkits and embed it effectively into their teaching.  His visits to the school have truly helped to inspire teachers, develop their pedagogy and they are very keen to be part of a mentoring programme.   

One key area improved through the introduction of the BLF programme is within the English teaching in Lower Primary. School leaders and teachers testify that before the introduction of self study most teachers were shy  and reluctance to speak in English, even for those trained in teaching the subject.  The rural location of the school makes it difficult to speak English and many teachers were initially educated in French meaning that they had only a basic foundation of English and developing fluency is still a l challenge.

Nyirambonimana Beatrice, a P1 English and mathematics teacher, said that she always felt unsure whether she was pronouncing words correctly but now with the support of the audio and video toolkit, as well as the SLF mentorship support , she now feels a much more competent English teacher, with far more confidence that she is communicating the language well to her students.  When planning lessons, she now uses the toolkit to prepare a short script of the key expressions to say and occasionally uses it  during lessons.  She believes that in time she will rely on her scripts far less and one day soon will deliver whole lessons very confidently and effectively in English. 

 I am now able to teach in English throughout the whole lesson and this practice was not the same before the BLF programme,” said teacher Beatrice.  ”

This confidence is having a profound impact upon the children’s learning, with an excellent improvement in their speaking and listening skills and an improved ability from them to remember vocabulary, which Beatrice attributes to BLF advice to make wall posters using rice sacks with English vocabulary.  

The school is also being considered a role model school in the sector for its use of locally made materials being used as teaching aids, particularly in mathematics and teachers from other schools within the sector have visited E.P Cyendajuru to gain ideas for how to make their classrooms and lessons more attractive and engaging.  Through learning about the importance of using concrete materials in Mathematics, an important theme throughout the Maths self-study programme, teachers reflect on how pupils are now  far more motivated and engaged in lessons than before. 

The school-based mentor of EP Cyendajuru said that before teachers used to think that the children were lazy, but now they realise  that this lack of engagement was related to their teaching methodology  which was passive and too focused on the abstracts in Mathematics.  He added that it is truly wonderful to see learners engaged and with more confidence and understanding in Maths lessons.  

As we continue to visit the school and many others in Huye District, the teachers  are optimistic about the impact BLF is having on their learning and their overall exam results.  And not only is the transformation happening in P1 – P3, but the knowledge gained is also spreading to upper levels, as leaders communicate effective teaching and learning practices  to their colleagues  through general CPD programmes. at school level.

Six months has brought great progress to this small school in Simbi sector.  It looks promising that in a further six months, more progress will be made.  

By Joanne Kirkham and Bizimana Jean Marie Vianney

The Building Learning Foundations Programme (BLF) is a programme of the Rwanda Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) and Rwanda Education Board (REB); it is funded by the United Kingdom’s Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as part of its Learning for all Programme in Rwanda.
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