Teaching in Rwanda
By Miss Don Bosco
In February 2017 I heard about Limited Resource Teacher Training (LRTT) from a friend who had done the programme in India. He said it was the best professional development he had ever done which sparked my interest, but little did I realise just how incredible and impactful it would be for both me and the teachers I worked with.
The programme involved working with teacher in Rwanda for three weeks during my summer holiday. Along with a group of twenty-one other teachers from around the world (including all over the UK, US, Canada and Australia) we delivered a training programme to Rwandan teacher from seven different schools. Our vision was to ‘empower teachers through purposeful & collaborative professional development, in order to create a sustainable learning culture that positively impacts the future of Rwandan teachers.’
Before I applied for the volunteer program, I knew little about the country, but I learned quickly why the Rwandan education system needs support. An entire generation had grown up with little or no education and the country is still rebuilding its education system after the horrors of the genocide which took place 25 years ago.
During my time working in a rural school, I instantly built a strong relationship with a teacher named Pauline who not only shared my birthday, but was the exact same age as me! However, our lives could not have been more different. She has three children of her own, cooks for her family, commutes 15 miles each day and manages classes of 75 with limited resources (very few students have books, paper or pens). Pauline has also had little feedback on her lessons or attended much training. She found controlling and teaching that number of children tough, so I looked at behaviour management strategies with her and ideas of how to do group work more effectively. What was very touching was going back to the schools after each conference day and watching her implement some of the strategies we had discussed. She was always so keen to learn and took meticulous notes during the conferences. Her gratitude for any small difference we may have made was incredibly humbling. We are still frequently in touch and were recently discussing assessment techniques.
One thing I took away from the programme is just how much impact a volunteering programme can have. If you are thinking of taking a gap year then it is important to think about what your role is: can you make a lasting difference that will continue to have an impact even after you leave? I believe it is important to choose a program that is designed with sustainability in mind and to ensure the impact lasts long after the volunteer leaves. I have thought about doing various volunteer projects in the past, but I am glad I did something where I could share my passion and knowledge of teaching.
Miss Don Bosco