Child-friendly Schools that are Teacher-friendly too
By Sam Nkurunziza
Rwanda, February 2011: It is now exactly seven years since Rubingo Primary School was transformed into a centre of learning excellence. At the school, located half an hour from Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, both teachers and parents are convinced that a significant change has taken place.
“Ever since UNICEF helped establish a Teacher Resource Centre, we have been able to improve on our own knowledge and the way we teach, thereby improving the way students lean and perform,” explains Viviane Mutarutwa, a teacher who has worked at the school since 2007.
“The more educated we as teachers are, the more likely it is that our students will get quality education,” she adds.
Teacher Resource Centres (TRC)are an intrinsic element of Child-friendly Schools because they enable on-site refresher trainings and provide space for teachers to interact, talk to each other and prepare for lessons.
At Rubingo’s TRC, there are typical ‘learning days’ for teachers, where many of them come to learn from facilitators about a variety of topics, including modern teaching methods, child centred methodologies, games and life skills.
Rwanda has one of the highest primary school enrolment rates in Africa (95% in 2010) but the quality of learning still remains a challenge, with a quarter of all students not completing primary education and 14% repeating a class.
“We hope that teachers will be able to improve quality learning outcomes for children through such TRCs,” explains Heinrich Rukundo, an Education Specialist at UNICEF.
“UNICEF began modelling the concept of a Child-friendly School in 2003,” he continues. “Because of its focus on improved learning methods, better conditions for children and inclusive nature, the Government of Rwanda adopted the quality standards of Child friendly schools as the basic standards for all schools in Rwanda. The vision is to have 6-8 model schools in each of Rwanda’s 30 districts.”
“Before UNICEF started providing assistance in making this school child friendly, all we had were dark classrooms with a few benches. Today, we have bigger brighter classrooms, separate latrines for girls and boys, a playground and most importantly a teacher resource centre.” Jean de la Paix, the Head Teacher at Rubingo primary school said.
“And more importantly, 2003, we only had 70 pupils and four teachers at the school. Today we have 15 teachers and over 300 students.”
“At the National Primary Leaving Examinations this year, over 88% of the pupils who sat passed. And we have no drop outs,” he added.