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Monday, March 19, 2012

Preserve Kinyarwanda language, says academic

Rwandans have been urged to preserve the sovereignty and standards of Kinyarwanda language by demonstrating accuracy of its literature, grammar, and the richness embedded in it. 

The executive secretary for the newly established Rwanda academy of language and culture, Dr James Vuningoma, said this, during celebrations to mark the International Mother Language Day, held in Rubavu. 

 “It’s a responsibility for every Rwandan to promote and preserve the values of our language, this is a weapon which leads to development, unity and reconciliation, we have to find how to guard it from distortion,” Dr Vuningoma said

During the celebrations, the best selected poems and songs in Kinyarwanda, were awarded, while the books in Kinyarwanda will be exhibited.

The Governor of the Western Province, Celestin Kabayiza, warned that the richness and the values of Kinyarwanda, face distortion in the province because of the languages spoken in neighbouring countries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. 

“Whereas there is a lot we can learn from other languages we have to preserve the values within Kinyarwanada, it’s a source of knowledge. The youth should be taught the literature and grammar,’’ Kabayiza said. 

The International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO to promote all the languages of the world and to represent an effective mobilisation opportunity for linguistic diversity. 

“Kinyarwanda is a natural resource which should be well preserved. Colonialists tried to distort it because other languages were used as tools for colonialism. If we fail to keep it, it may be lost completely hence losing our values and culture,” Dr Vuningoma warned. 

The newly established Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture will be composed of eminent Kinyarwanda linguists who will formulate the syllabus to be taught in schools. 

Kinyarwanda is a dialect of Rwanda and is spoken by over 12 million people in Rwanda whereas it is one of the official languages in Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Rwanda is one of the few countries with one common language.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Business registration reduced to six hours

RDB's John Gara (R) addressing the visiting Members of Parliament yesterday. The New Times / Timothy Kisambira.
ANOTHER FIRST:Best place for trade

In a bid to promote a business friendly environment and encourage the growth of the private sector, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has reduced the time needed to register a business, from twenty-four hours to just six.

Addressing a news conference yesterday at the RDB premises, Louise Kanyonga, the Registrar General, said that the initiative aims at promoting the creation of a private sector driven economy.

“We started last week and since then we have been registering businesses within six hours. You can register your company at seven in the morning and start to work by one in the afternoon, “she said.

Kanyonga stated that the initiative is part of the Government’s strategy to improve the business climate, making it easier for local and foreign investors to do business.

“We have increased the capacity in terms of human resource to be able to process more applications within the shortest period of time,” she explained.

“We need to ensure that the reform momentum is sustained, forward looking and responds to the needs of the private sector.”

“There is no restriction on the type of companies we register here. There is no special treatment to local investors over foreign investors. The requirements and the registration fee are the same,” Louise Kanyonga said.

RDB has registered about 11,000 companies since 2009.  Registering a business costs $25 (approximately Rwf15, 000) but if done online, it is free of charge.

Reacting to the reduction of hours needed to start a business, Pierre Nzabandora, the Director of Intervention and Programme, a business a consultancy firm, said that people who haven’t registered their businesses so far should do so.

“We are very happy that RDB has made it easier for business people to start their companies in such a short period of time,” he stated.

In a related development, delegates attending the just concluded International Conference on Private Sector Development were given a tour of RDB.

John Gara, the Chief Executive Officer of RDB explained how the facility operates, especially in terms of business registration procedures.

Hon. Thabitha Khumalo, a parliamentarian from Zimbabwe, told The New Times that Rwanda is going to be used as a point of reference for African countries when they implement their own business registration reforms.

“At least we now have a country we can refer to because African nations tend to be bureaucratic when it comes to registering businesses. I am very pleased by the way RDB handles its duties,” she said.

Hon. B.L. Mashile, South Africa advised that while RDB was making it easier for people to start business, it should also do the same when they are de-registering their companies.

 “Companies that want to close should be cleared within at least one day,” he noted.

Presently it takes two months to close a business.

 “Over the next few months we are going to put a lot of attention on the issue of resolving insolvency. We want to ensure that the process of starting a business and closing it are
merged into one system altogether,” Kayonga said.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rural schools to be given power

Rural schools to be given power
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Rural schools to be given power

The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) in partnership with Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) are set to extend power to 300 schools located in several remote regions of the country.

The State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Mathias Harebamungu, made the disclosure, yesterday, during an interview with The New Times

“We are working with EWSA to extend electricity to these schools through the use of solar panels to 300 schools that are located at least seven kilometres away from the national grid,” Harebamungu said.

He noted that the solar panels would be crucial in enabling the schools to use computers and ease students’ access to ICT services.

“This move is in line with the government’s policy of promoting ICT in all parts of the country as this will enable our country to achieve sustainable development in the shortest time possible,” the State Minister added.

In an interview yesterday, the deputy head of EWASA, Eng. Yusuf Uwamahoro, said that they had completed the procurement of equipment from Spain to be used in installing the panels at the selected schools.

He noted that they would begin with two schools in Bugesera and Ngoma districts as a pilot project, adding that afterward, EWASA would connect about 160 schools in various parts of the country.

“We intend to complete the whole process of extending electricity and solar panels at the 300 schools by the end of June next year and I believe we shall achieve this target on time because everything is well on track,” Eng. Uwamahoro said.

He said that the utility targets to extend electricity to at least 50 percent of all schools in the country by 2015.

EWSA will supply electricity to schools located up to seven kilometres away from the national grid using electrical cables while solar panels would connect schools beyond  the range.

The project will be funded by the government in collaboration with the European Union.

Uwamahoro said that the pilot project will enable EWASA to train various local companies which will be hired to install the solar panels.

New Times

Updated on Sep 8, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 1)

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rural school-in-Kigali.jpg - on Sep 8, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 1)

Rubavu school given computers

Rubavu school given computers
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Rubavu school given computers

Gisenyi Science School yesterday received 36 new computers and one year’s free internet connection from telecommunications giant, MTN, to boost its ICT department.

MTN has provided the same number of computers to one school in each province under the initiative ‘MTN Foundation’ as part of its social corporate responsibility.

The Gisenyi School, which has a total of 678 students, had 25 computers in its laboratory and the donation would see the student to computer ratio significantly improved.

“The equipment will help improve academics especially in the field of research as well as connecting students with the outside world via social networks,” said Esri Hakuzimana, the school’s headmaster.

The laboratory will also serve other neighbouring schools and the surrounding community after an agreement to that effect.

However, the school has only one ICT teacher for all the courses.

Handing over the donation, MTN Foundation Board Member, Zulphat Mukarubenga, urged the school management and students to guard the donation jealously.

“Our donation to this school and to others we have supported is to support one of the key pillars of Vision 2020. ICT is the future and we want to see all our young people getting an opportunity to develop and harness their ICT knowledge,” a Mukarubegadded.

For any school to benefit from the MTN Foundation, it should have over 500 students, a significant percentage of girls and offers science subjects, among other criteria.

New Times

Updated on Oct 6, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 2)

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MTN comps.jpg - on Oct 6, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 1)

Riviera wins debating competition

Riviera wins debating competition
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Riviera wins debating competition

Riviera High School, yesterday, won Kigali city schools debating competition held at King David Academy.The school beat FAWE Girls’ school to the coveted title in a competition organised by Never Again Rwanda (NAR) a youth-focused human rights and peace-building organization.

"We did not expect a lot as a team but this is a dream come true and we have made it,” said a Riviera High School student, Daphine Natasha.

8 schools from Kigali gathered at King David Academy to debate three topics, free university education, population control and the media.

The final round which was held before a large audience and a four-judge panel, had Riviera and FAWE debate the theme,  “media censorship”.
Riviera argued in favour of the motion and FAWE against.

"Riviera took a reasonable line and clarified issues and in a debate consistency with good points supporting your argument is what makes you win," said the chief judge, Friday James.
Officiating at the event, Patrice Mulama, the Executive Secretary of the Media High Council, hailed the organisers of the competition for such an educative initiative.

“This final motion is within my daily responsibilities and I thank the schools that participated in such interactive debates which build society,” he added.
Mulama told the students that the media law in Rwanda prohibits censorship of the press and called upon them to join the media industry in future.

He promised to partner with Never Again Rwanda to organise more debating competitions.
Dr Joseph Nkurunziza, NAR’s Executive Director, stressed that schools that debated were chosen through a rigorous process.

“We have been organising school debating competitions since 2008 and our aim is to enable students acquire public speaking skills,” he said.
Nkurunziza added that they are planning to hold another debating competition among the Eastern Province schools soon and if they get enough resources and support they will make it nationwide.

The schools that participated included Groupe Scolaire ADB Nyarutarama, C.G.F.K, College de L’Espoir de Gasogi, Ecole Technique Muhazi 11, FAWE Girls School, King David Academy, Lycee de Kigali and Riviera High School.
All students who participated were awarded with certificates and scholastic materials.

Updated on Mar 13, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 1)

Rewards for best 130 girl students

Rewards for best 130 girl students
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Rewards for best 130 girl students

Imbuto Foundation, yesterday, rewarded 136 girls who excelled in last year’s national exams.

The girls, who include 118 top performers in Primary Six, 12 in Senior Three and six at Senior Six are from the five districts of Gasabo, Kicukiro, Nyarugenge, Bugesera and Gicumbi. 

The exercise which has been taking place for the 7th year running, is an initiative of Imbuto Foundation, under the stewardship of First Lady Jeannette Kagame.

Gifts for the best performers in primary and O’Level national exams included school bags that contained dictionaries, a vocabulary and grammar books, Atlas text books, calculators, mathematical sets, a watches, pens and an envelope containing Frw20, 000.

As it happened elsewhere in the country, the best senior six performers received a laptop and Rwf 20, 000 for basic computer training course.

Also rewarded in a ceremony held at Kagarama Secondary School in Kicukiro District, were 10 outstanding Guardian Angels, locally known as Malayika Murinzi from the five districts.

Each of the guardians received a cow and a certificate in recognition of their outstanding guardianship.

Most of the Guardian Angels recognized are those who adopted children they found abandoned by their biological mothers.

It was a moment of tears-of-joy to parents, especially mothers who attended the event as one of the recipient guardians; Specioza Mukabigwi, gave a testimony of how she adopted four children.

Mukabigwi, who hails from Kicukiro, said she adopted the first child (girl) 17 years ago when she found her abandoned in the bush.

“The baby girl was less than six months old and was in poor condition,” said Mukabigwi, who was by then single.

Mukabigwi has no biological child. Her only child died “and I was told by doctors that I cannot give birth anymore.”

“I never adopted them with hope that I will be rewarded. I adopted them because I thought it’s my responsibility since they were abandoned and had no one to take care of them,” said Mukabigwi.
“They are my children. I will do everything for them.”

Solina Nyirahabimana, the Minister in the President’s Office, who represented the First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, , urged the students to work hard and excel even at the next levels.“Excellence inspires excellence.

What you think and dream should inspire you to do more,” said Nyirahabimana, adding that the country is being built on a knowledge-based economy.

“Awarding you is to inspire you to do more,” she noted.Nyirahabimana appealed to parents to join hands with the government to do away with obstacles that previously affected education, especially among girls.

Since the inception of ‘Promotion of Girls’ Education’ (Rewarding Best Performing Girls) in 2005 to encourage and increase academic success of girls, about 2,470 girls have been rewarded countrywide.

Yesterday, Imbuto concluded this year’s recognition events that took place countrywide.

New Times

Updated on Apr 1, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 1)

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imbuto girls.jpg - on Apr 1, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 1)

Results reflect progressive education policies

Results reflect progressive education policies
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Results reflect progressive education policies

The results of last year’s Primary Six and Senior Three national examinations, released Thursday, are yet another indication that the Government’s sustained efforts to make education accessible to all, and working to check the dropout rate, especially among the girls, are paying impressive dividends already.

Overall, the results indicate a remarkable increment in the number of candidates in the two categories and a better performance by girls. Furthermore, figures indicate that the 2010 candidates performed better, compared to previous years. This is even more revealing considering that English was introduced in schools as the official language of instruction, last year, with the majority of the students answering their national examinations in the language.

That many rural-based schools excelled in the examinations, some beating Kigali City’s traditional best performers shows that, indeed, students are confidently adapting to the use of the English language.

The fact that female candidates, generally, outnumbered their male counterparts also shows how much the policy to retain girls in school has been embraced by the Rwandan community. In the past, female students dropped out due to cultural stereotypes, early pregnancies and the burden of home chores.

The general rise in the number of school-going children is largely due to the introduction of the free basic education programme, which has enabled children from poor families to enroll and keep in school.

However, the government and all education stakeholders must ensure that we reach 100 percent school enrolment and retention, since education is the backbone of strong economies.

New Times

Updated on Mar 1, 2011 by Salvatore Desiano (Version 1)

Research conference at the National University

Research conference at the National University
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Research conference at the National University

The Minister of Education, Dr Charles Murigande, who is also the Chancellor of the National University of Rwanda (NUR), has underscored the importance of research in guiding policy makers on resource allocation as they seek to address the problem of food security and undernourishment which constitute major impediments to development.

Officially opening the 3rd National University of Rwanda annual International Scientific Research Conference on Tuesday, Murigande said that solutions to these challenges should be based on practical experiences, but most of all, on scientific evidence enshrined in research both – fundamental and applied.

He said that the conference comes timely as Rwanda and many other poor countries around the world enter the remaining five-year journey towards the Millennium Development Goals.

“Food and nutrition security and integrated pest management comes timely ... as it appears that one of the most likely MDG to be missed is the first - that of reducing by half the proportion of people living under poverty line...and also reducing by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger,” Murigande said.

“It will be difficult to achieve the aims of national development plans if the constraints imposed by undernourishment of the population are not dealt with.”

He said that one of the main pillars of the vision 2020 - a development strategy aimed at transforming Rwanda into a middle income country by that year, is the modernisation of the agricultural sector to ensure food security and also reduce trade deficit through agriculture exports.

Murigande noted that although for the last four years Rwanda has been producing enough food to feed her population, the country still faces high levels of malnutrition due to many factors which include the lack of adequate knowledge on how to have a balanced diet, poor food distribution channels and disorganised internal markets.

“The government of Rwanda is cognisant of the fact that improving nutrition requires multi-sectoral actions to ensure that everyone enjoys adequate nutrition. The well being of a population determines the countries productivity level which is why government treats nutrition as a crucial component of development,” Murigande told researchers.

He added that researchers at the conference will provide useful insight on how these challenges will be addressed.
 Over 100 research papers will be presented during the three day conference many of which are expected to be published in indexed international journals.

New Times

Updated on Mar 1, 2011 by Salvatore Desiano (Version 1)

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Rector wants EA varsity fees harmonized

Rector wants EA varsity fees harmonized
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Rector wants EA varsity fees harmonized

The President of the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), Professor Silas Lwakabamba has called on higher institutions of learning in the East African Community (EAC) to charge citizens from member states the same tuition fees as their locals.

The IUCEA is a regional body comprising over 70 higher education institutions within the bloc.

Lwakabamba, who is also the Rector of the National University of Rwanda (NUR), said that whereas students from EAC countries, since the 2009 academic year, pay similar fees as Rwandan nationals at his University, other institutions are yet to follow suit.

 “Implementation is different; in Rwanda, we are doing it [harmonising] but other countries, like Uganda and Kenya, are not,” he said.

Last month, when ministers of education from the EAC approved a report to advance the harmonization of education systems in the region, there was no consensus on tuition fees.

The regional report on the Harmonisation of the EA Education Systems and Training Curricula recommends the harmonisation of the education calendar; core subjects; years of study; and number of study hours in addition to subject content at all levels of education in the partner states, among others.

 “It does not include [harmonisation of] tuition fees. We are still waiting but a consensus has not been reached yet,” Prof. Mayunga Nkunya, the Executive Secretary of IUCEA, told The New Times.


At NUR, undergraduate private students pursuing degrees in Economics, Journalism, Communication, Law, and Applied Mathematics pay Rwf600,000, (approx. US$1,000) each year.

International private students pay double, Rwf1.2m (approx $2,000) but students from EAC countries pay fees similar to Rwandan nationals.

At the University of Dar es salaam (UDSL), tuition fees for non-Tanzanians is US$2,700, for a bachelors degree in Journalism, Mass Communication, or Public Relations while Tanzanians, however, pay TShs1.3m (approx USD 800) for the same programs, a year.

In Uganda’s Makerere University, undergraduates pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications pays 1, 960,000 Ugandan shillings (approx US$700) while international students pay 2,520,000 shillings (approx US$870) per year.

EAC negotiations

The need for universities to harmonise tuition fees was first discussed by the EAC Council of Ministers in 2004/2005.

 “However, most universities are yet to implement the decision. Hence, the matter has continued coming up in a number of EAC forums,” Prof. Nkunya said.

“The IUCEA Secretariat has observed that a lasting solution to this issue is for each partner state to establish national unit costs for university academic programs.”

He said that this would guide preparation of harmonised unit costs for the region, hence enabling universities to charge fees for students from other partner states at the regional level unit costs.

Prof. Nkunya noted that “in order to establish the regional level unit costs, IUCEA will soon carry out a study on unit costs being used in each partner state and the findings would be used to guide the way forward.”

Richard Ndahiro, a Rwandan says that harmonisation of fees should be part and parcel of the integration process.

“The harmonisation of study fees is part of the entire integration process. However, this should be implemented by all member states--not just some.”

Moses Kibirige, a Ugandan, says: “I am not against it but as much as harmonisation is very important, caution should also be taken to ensure that it is done appropriately.”

Kibirige adds that harmonization of fees is a way of making people feel East Africans.

Emma Nsekanabo, a Kigali resident says that the bloc shall not achieve real regional integration if some member states practice double standards on certain issues of the regional concern.

“Regarding the harmonisation of East African varsities’ tuition fee structures, we need this kind of harmonisation but the practicality of it is quite far-fetched.

“Prerequisite steps should be taken before we leap to this dream.  For instance, among other things that should be scooped in this process is to first harmonise educational programs at all levels in the member states.  Parents and students should feel that they can get the same quality of education everywhere in EA. Until we achieve that, harmonisation of the tuition fees is a broad-daylight dream,” Nsekanabo said.

Robert Ssali, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC Affairs says there are several positives towards harmonising tuition fees. He surmised that it would be a very deep symbol and good gesture in enhancing the bloc’s integration effort.

 “It would, first of all, facilitate and increase the EAC intra free movement of services because education is one of the vibrant sectors and it involves the youth of the region,” Ssali said.

“I think this will send a very meaningful signal to the spirit of integration. It adds to the confidence building of the students who benefit – these same students are the policy makers of tomorrow.”

MP Mike Sebalu, the Chairperson Uganda’s chapter of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), noted that the idea that there are no discriminative tendencies in EAC universities is decisive in integration.

 “It is a very welcome development. It ought to have come yesterday, but even tomorrow is not too late,” Sebalu said.

He added that the harmonization of tuition fees is critical to the introduction of an east African cadership of professionals in various fields that are necessary drivers of integration.

“I am in support of the idea that there is no discrimination on basis of fees and I call upon to our governments to fast track it.

“When the youth benefit from it, they will be able to appreciate the need for integration and therefore advocate for it and give it tremendous support.”

By James Karuhanga

Updated on Aug 22, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 1)

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Quality teachers are a cornerstone for quality learning

Quality teachers are a cornerstone for quality learning
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Quality teachers are a cornerstone for quality learning

Teachers are the most important education resource. Quality education cannot happen without them. As key agents in helping realise Rwanda’s 2020 Vision of a knowledge-based economy, teachers at all levels play a crucial role in the development of the skilled human capital necessary to transform Rwanda from being largely agrarian to a middle income country and regional leader in ICT.

Below are insights by Emmanuel Muvunyi; the Executive Secretary of the Teacher Service Commission (TSC)

Rwanda, like many other developing countries in Africa, faces the challenge and pressing duty of eradicating poverty, enhancing equity and expanding access to education without compromising quality, and placing the country on a path of sustainable growth and development.

In teacher service commission we take it that teachers are the most important education resource. Quality education cannot happen without them.

As key agents in helping realise Rwanda’s 2020 Vision of a knowledge-based economy, teachers at all levels play a crucial role in the development of the skilled human capital necessary to transform our country from being largely agrarian to a middle income country and regional leader in ICT.

Basing on education sector strategic plan (2010-2015) we aim at improving education, particularly skills development, to meet the labour market demand, by increasing the coverage and quality of nine-year basic education (9YBE), and strengthening post-basic education (PBE).

A teacher development and management (TDM) policy was approved in 2007 to strengthen institutional and structural capacities for improving teacher quality in primary and secondary schools.

The government has therefore, acknowledged in its education policy pronouncements that the teacher is the main instrument for bringing about desired improvements in learning, and that adequate teacher management structures, policies and strategies are key factors that determine teacher performance. The teaching sector has also been undergoing reforms just like all other sectors.

The government aims at providing a management structure in the teaching sector that will enhance efficiency and control among teachers and education officers at the point where the actual learning occurs. The quality and utility value of education depends on the quality and competence of the teaching staff.

The status of teachers has therefore become the focus of government development agenda as espoused in the Education Sector Strategic Plan which stated, inter alia, that “the strategy was to provide teachers trained in participatory, learner-centred at the various levels”.

The education sector faces the additional constraints in the production, employment and retention of sufficient number of teachers to meet the above targets.

The Ministry of Education has moved away from the pre 1998 days when the supply of teachers was not coherently done. There were no Teacher Training Colleges, no focus on teacher training and teachers were generally obtained with diverse qualifications from sundry sources.

An increasing number of prospective primary school teachers are today receiving pre-service training through the primary teacher training colleges.

The education sector is premised to contribute towards economic development and poverty reduction by making education more relevant for social and economic progress.  This will be achieved by the establishment of a curriculum that promotes development skills including life skills and social cohesion.

Prepare a teacher appraisal scheme that would streamline the licence renewal system as well as identifying potentialities for financing the teaching force.

All qualified teachers will be issued with teaching licenses from the Teachers Service Commission to indicate accredited membership of the teaching profession.  A teacher appraisal scheme will be introduced for teacher development purposes and incorporated into a license renewal scheme.

Establishment and structure of the Teacher Service Commission

The Teacher Service Commission (TSC) was set up as a Task Force in March 2006.  It is hoped that the soon-to-be operational Rwandan Education Board (REB), together with an appropriate staffing complement for TSC, will provide a permanent structure for and ensure its capacity to fulfill the mandate of the TSC and implement the planned activities.


The mission of the Teachers’ Service Commission is to improve on the delivery of quality education through development, management and provision of sufficient, qualified, motivated and competent teachers.


Pre-service training
Pre-service training provides trainees with an initial education in relevant subject areas and teaching methodology; it serves as foundation for professional practice and development. It currently takes place in 3 sets of institutions:

Teacher Training Colleges, training to A2 (Certificate Level), for primary school teaching; Colleges of Education, training to A1 (Diploma Level), for lower secondary teaching; and Kigali Institute of Education which trains to A0 (Degree Level) for upper secondary teaching.

TSC liaises with all of these institutions to ensure quality training of the nation’s school teachers.

In-service training
In-service training offers teachers opportunities for continuous professional development. The main In-service training programmes (INSET) at present offer English language training for all primary and secondary school teachers, Maths and Science training for secondary school teachers of these subjects, and School Management Training for Head Teachers.

TSC works closely with district education officers to facilitate decentralised ownership and delivery of INSET.  In future reforms, it is envisaged that a fully-fledged INSET structure will be established, this will offer continuous professional development for all teachers and delineate career pathways.

Our partners
In order to achieve its short term and long term goals, TSC works closely with, and values its relationship with a number of development partners in the teacher education sub-sector within the education sector.  These include the following:

British Council provides technical assistance and resources to REAP (Rwanda English in Action Programme); coordinating an international school exchange programme (Connecting Classrooms) for Rwandan schools; organising international mentoring opportunities for senior personnel.
Also Commonwealth of Learning extends child friendly school approach to teacher training; creating a bank of open and distance learning materials for formal education

We also work with JICA in managing a regional INSET programme aimed at Strengthening Maths and Science in Secondary Education (SMASSE)
Peace Corps intervene with the supplying of teaching volunteers, including English teachers, to rural secondary schools
With UNICEF as our partners leading child friendly school initiative; supporting primary teacher training and VVOB: Providing management training to head teachers, directors of studies, bursars and secretaries.

VSO: Provides education volunteers, including methodology trainers and education management advisers to districts and dioceses; supporting REAP; strengthening teacher resource centres

Other partners include Wellspring Foundation, which delivers INSET through a values-based approach to teaching; and International Education Exchange which also provides training as well as supporting public education in various ways.

Policy development
A number of high level policy documents frame and inform the work of the TSC. In addition the TSC in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Teacher Training Institutions and other government agencies develops a number of policy documents concerned with promoting effective teacher development, management and professionalisation and implementing a range of reforms and initiatives.

Some of these key policy documents are:

The ESSP is a key document for TSC work. It frames our activities, guiding policy and planning in teacher education and management.

A Teacher Development and Management Policy (TDMP) have been designed to strengthen institutional and structural capacities for improving teacher quality in primary and secondary schools. This objective will only be realised with the recognition of teaching as a distinct and valued profession within the public service, governed by its own code of professional ethics and having clear pathways for professional development.

Four further plans, outlined below, have been derived from TDM policy:
A TDMP strategic plan which details the strategies critical to realisation of TDMP and to strengthening educational management in primary and secondary schools.

A Continuous Professional Development (CPD) plan to be rolled out to all teachers, thereby promoting a sense of individual responsibility for professional development.

A comprehensive resource plan (CRP) – including goods, equipment and infrastructure – to support the TDM programme.

A monitoring and evaluation framework for teacher development and management.

In future, several other policies will be derived from the TDM and TEMP reforms and initiatives.

Statutes and Regulations
A set of rules and regulations are being designed and will be put in place to standardise and harmonise key aspects of the teaching profession: Among them include the National Teacher Registration System (NTRS) – this is an electronic database of all school teachers and will form the cornerstone of teacher management at all levels of teacher administration including central and decentralised level and also the National Teacher Licensing System (NTLS) – this will be a tool to allow teachers move up on the various ranks of professional ladder and will be linked to the quality assurance mechanism for the teaching profession.

Also terms and Conditions of Service (TACOS) – this will provide the basis of employment of teachers and it will be upon this that the teacher contracts will be drawn up and signed.

National Teacher Code of Conduct (NTCC) – this will articulate a clear set of expectations that will govern the professional behavior of all teachers both inside and outside the classroom, National Teacher Professional Standards (NTPS) – this is about statements of classroom competencies that all teachers are expected to display and the Teacher Appraisal and Evaluation System (TAES) – this will provide a mechanism for monitoring and evaluating teacher performance in general and will thus facilitate on-going assessment of teachers.

English as a medium of instruction in schools
The government places a high premium on the development of human capital with the necessary knowledge and skills as a vehicle for socioeconomic development. Within this context, government follows a trilingual education policy so as to have regional and international advantages associated with trade, foreign relations, employment and education, and in line with the constitution which stipulates that Kinyarwanda, French and English are official languages.

Ensuring spoken fluency in these languages, along with reading and writing competences in their associated literacies, is considered important to facilitating trade, national development, effective communication and the self-actualisation of Rwandan citizens.

For learning and education to be effective in a European language, international research and best practice consistently demonstrate that reading and writing skills must initially be developed in the first language (L1) – Kinyarwanda - so they can be successfully transferred to the second language (L2) and thereby underpin academic achievement in the L2 as the medium of instruction (MoI).

Increasing role of English
With Rwanda’s membership of the East African Community, accession to the Commonwealth of Nations and having developed new international partnerships, the use of English has become more prominent and the need for literacy in English greater.

Additionally, the government has made Science, Technology and ICT priority areas in education, and views English as the gateway to the global knowledge economy.

The sector-wide shift to English-medium instruction (EMI) is thus a bold and ambitious plan to help meet Rwanda’s goals of harmonising education curricula with other East African Community member states and promoting Science, Technology and ICT in education so as to further stimulate economic development and support poverty reduction. It also affords access to a wide range of competitively-priced teaching and learning materials in English.
Languages in education
The reconfiguration of roles and relations amongst the three languages currently used in education – Kinyarwanda, French and English – can be viewed as part of a broader set of issues around language in education, which impacts on the various education sub sectors – primary, secondary, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), higher education and adult/continuing education; and on sector priority areas of Science, Technology and ICT.

As such, and consistent with ways of addressing other cross-Teacher Training Instituting issues such as Girls Education and Special Needs Education (SEN), the shift to English medium education shows the complementarily and interrelatedness of the three languages in Rwandan education: Kinyarwanda as the bedrock of initial literacy and learning; English as the new medium of instruction (MoI); and French as a language of wider communication (LWC).

The Rwanda English in Action Programme
As the main, planned intervention to facilitate the transition to English medium in basic education, the Rwanda English in Action Programme (REAP) sets out to address the English language learning needs of more than 52,000 school teachers. Given the high costs of providing residential training to such large numbers, the Ministry of Education’s preferred option is a sector-based approach to training, supported by self-directed study and school-based mentoring.

A standardised English Language Assessment Tool (ELAT) for measuring teacher proficiency at various levels, makes up the final element of REAP and helps ensure all teachers can perform in English to the level required.

Overview of REAP
The REAP intervention is currently targeted at the country’s school teachers, particularly those with low levels of English.

Key strategies are
Motivating teachers and students to learn and use English well
Increasing their exposure to, and confidence in the language
Maximising opportunities to practice and grow skills in English

Its main programme components comprise of-

Face-to-face English language training for teachers

Self-directed study materials to consolidate the training

School-based mentoring to support the teachers

Standardised English language assessment to measure progress

Achievements to date
•Baseline study of teachers’ English proficiency
•Training of 60 national English trainers
•Training of 600 district level English trainers
•Foundation level English language training for 41,000 teachers in 2009
•Training the first cohort of 250 school-based mentors
•Mobilisation of external support for REAP (ongoing)

Decentralised inputs
•School-based peer mentoring (of English language and teaching skills)
•Cluster-based workshop or short training activities
•District-based intensive, face-to-face training events

Future plans (2010 – 2015)
Provide self-directed English language learning resources to teachers as their general English improves, focus on professional language – Classroom Language, English for Maths, Science etc.

Scale up the training of mentors to level of one per school cluster
Provide English learning support to students in core curriculum subjects
Include an audio / video materials component for teachers and students
Commission English language assessment tool to international standards
Reach at least 75% of the adult population – including parents, school leavers and communities – through English learning materials delivered through media and/or mobile telephone platforms

Expected Benefits of REAP
A major skills gap in the workforce is addressed: school leavers and graduates are equipped with English language and communication skills

Increased opportunities are available for using and practicing English in a range of contexts. All school teachers and tutors at Teacher Training Colleges, Colleges of Education, KIE and TVETs will be equipped with English proficiency and modern teaching skills so as to be able to promote high levels of language, literacy and learning achievement

All educators are equipped with English proficiency and contemporary training methods so as to be able to produce teachers who are both reflective practitioners and learner-centred professionals.

Schools, Teacher Training Colleges, Colleges of Education, KIE and TVETs will be furnished with a range of language and literacy support materials, teacher training and trainer training materials for use with students, teachers and teacher educators respectively.

School clusters will be equipped with school-based mentors to help sustain proficiency gains made by professionals, and address teaching-related issues in English medium instruction.

A national network of Teacher Resource Centres (TRCs) is established to assist REAP implementation and sustain programme achievements

Teacher Resource Centres are integrated with the existing Teacher Training Colleges, which provide pre-service teacher education.

All who enter the system shall leave with an English language skill;

Regardless of whichever entry point into the education system, as long as a person has the aptitude and ability, s/he can progress along the English proficiency continuum

Other strategies for enhancing the English skills development within the larger community

A range of other media that will be used in the short and long run to reinforce the classroom face-to-face English language teaching include: Printed materials - classroom language training, training videos - teaching English, radio - teaching English and learning English, mobile phone – also for teaching and learning English and website – teaching English and learning English.

Teaching English Radio
An introduction to teacher development is a series of twelve 15-minute radio programmes aimed at teachers of English with only limited training and a basic knowledge of the language. The first set of programmes in the teaching English radio series, produced by the British Council in collaboration with the Teacher Service Commission provides advice and training on teaching English at a basic level.

These programmes are intended for teachers of English with entry level qualifications and a basic knowledge of the language, and include clips from teachers and classes in several different countries to give the programmes global appeal.

The objective of this 12-part series is to address some key issues in classroom practice by exploring and sharing well tried strategies to improve the teaching and learning of English.

The programmes are intended to motivate teachers and provide a ‘catalyst’ to improve morale and encourage more learner-centred strategies and make learning more effective.

The topics covered in this series include: finding and using resources, using group work in large classes, pair and group work in practice, developing teachers’ English, using English in the classroom, teaching new language, teaching reading and teaching listening.

The series is currently being broadcast by Radio Rwanda at Thursday at 21:00 and Radio 10 on Sunday at 21:00 and Thursday at 20:00.  New radio stations will soon join.

The Pillars of REAP
The activities of REAP will centre on the following seven pillars of Language in Education (LED) development:

Pillar one
Development of reading and writing skills in Kinyarwanda: This pillar focuses on laying a solid foundation in L1 literacy. The focus here is on establishing sound reading and writing skills in Kinyarwanda, which literacy forms an essential platform to the development of academic literacy and learning in English as L2.

To that end, training will be given to early years’ teachers of Kinyarwanda in effective techniques for mother tongue teaching, with particular emphasis on reading and writing.

Pillar two
Promotion of academic literacy skills in English: This pillar centres on the need for the teaching of English as a second language to promote academic, or school-based, literacy for learning in English as L2.

To help achieve this, training will be given to English teachers in contemporary methods for teaching L2 so as to support the growth of literacy skills in English across the curriculum.

Pillar three
Teaching language for use / communication (Vs teaching about the language).  The third pillar pays attention to the fact that the main purpose of language learning is primarily to use the language being acquired – for communication, to support learning etc.

Whilst some understanding of language structure is helpful to learners, organising language teaching around points of grammar is unlikely to be the most efficient or effective means of promoting actual use of language.

To ensure a focus on the latter, English teachers will also be trained in methods of teaching language communicatively.

Pillar four
Language-supportive subject teaching:  The fourth pillar recognises the importance of content and language integrated learning (CLIL), and the need for subject teachers to be aware of the language demands on their learners of their subject textbooks and supplementary materials.

To address this, subject teachers will be trained in specialist forms of language-supportive subject teaching.

Pillar five
School-based mentoring of less experienced teachers: In order to ensure that teachers apply learning gained from training programmes to their classrooms, pillar five puts in place a school-based mentoring programme whereby more experienced teachers of English are trained as mentors so as to provide support to newly qualified and less experienced colleagues.

The mentors will help fellow teachers address practical issues arising from their teaching and in-service training.

Pillar six
Teacher Resource Centres in Teacher Training Colleges (Teacher Training Colleges).  So as to support and sustain REAP activities at the local level; the sixth pillar establishes Teacher Resource Centres (TRCs) in Teacher Training Colleges (Teacher Training Colleges).

TRCs will have a coordinator and adviser to facilitate local training, produce self-access materials, develop co-curricular activities (English Days, Film Club etc) and coordinate the work of the centre as a whole.

They will have operating guidelines, including a range of possible activities, and equipped with the necessary goods and equipment to play a supporting role in in-service and pre-service training and follow-up of teachers.

TRCs will be networked by province so they can share ideas and materials, undertake exchange visits and action research, host short seminars etc, all of which furthers programme goals.

Pillar seven
Enriched language and literacy resources in schools and classrooms.  This pillar recognises the importance of creating an enriched language environment in schools and classrooms as an aid to literacy and learning in Kinyarwanda and English.

To that end, attention will be paid to developing appropriate school and classroom resources to promote the development of language and literacy skills at local level.

Reproduced from New Times

Updated on Mar 1, 2011 by Salvatore Desiano (Version 1)

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Quality education key to regional dev't

Quality education key to regional dev't
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Quality education key to regional dev't

Regional countries must devise ways to improve the quality of their education systems if they are to achieve their development agenda, the president of the Senate has said.

Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo was speaking in Kigali, yesterday, at the opening of a regional summit, held under the theme ‘Achieving Quality Education for All’.

The meeting attracted about ten ministries of education, experts and education stakeholders from the Eastern Africa region.

“Education is the key to supplying the skilled workforce that our labour market needs. Quality education and the creation of a skilled and knowledgeable young population will be the foundation upon which we will achieve our development aspirations,” Ntawukuliryayo said.

He stated that Rwanda places high premium on quality education in her quest to become a knowledge-based economy.

Rwanda is one of the few African countries on track to achieve universal access to primary education with net enrolment currently standing at 96 percent.

Girls have a better enrolment rate than boys.

Government scrapped school fees in public primary schools in 2003, and in lower secondary in 2007.

However, challenges facing Rwanda and other countries in the region in improving quality and learning are multiple. According to the organizers of the meeting, the common challenge is to consistently improve the quality of education for all, in the wake of the ever-increasing student enrolment.

They say the summit is an opportunity for participants to plot the way forward in addressing these challenges, while learning from good regional and international practices to improve quality learning outcomes and key competencies.

Delegates will also discuss, among other things, how to improve teaching and learning, how to better assess learning achievement, promoting literacy, language and reading, teacher training and motivation and strengthening vocational training.

Besides Rwanda, other countries represented at the conference are Burundi, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

By Charles Kwizera

Updated on Nov 30, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 2)

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senate president and students.jpg - on Nov 30, 2011 by Victor Mugarura (Version 1)