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Rwanda, 9 February 2016: Improving the quality of teaching through the school-based mentoring programme

© UNICEF Rwanda/2016/Park
Laurence in her classroom with children.

By Jung Yuen Park and Kojo Crentsil (with excerpts from Arpana Pandey)

Kamonyi District, 9 February 2016 – “Nitwa Jeanette [my name is Jeanette in the local Kinyarwanda language],” says 5-year-old girl Jeannette on her first day at school. “Nitwa Laurence,” replies the teacher, greeting all the children at the Nyamiyaga School in Kamonyi district.

Laurence Nyirakamonyo is a pre-primary teacher for Class 2 at Nyamiyaga School. “For five years, I have been working as a pre-primary teacher and hope to continue teaching,” says Laurence. “Last year we received training on the new competency-based curriculum, which is more child oriented. It provides various options and possibilities for child development. It was a great opportunity for me to learn new things, particularly with the support of my mentor, Avith.”

“I feel more confident. The mentor and I prepare the lessons together and he has shown me different ways of teaching grammar,” she states.

Since 2011, through UNICEF’s support, International Education Exchange (IEE), a Rwandan Education NGO, has deployed mentors on a full-time basis to targeted schools in the country as part of its School-Based Teacher Training Program. Mentors work with approximately 4 or 5 teachers every day, supporting their continuous professional development, English language proficiency, class and lesson planning, and development of low-cost teaching aids using local materials. With the new curriculum, which just started in 2016, mentors have been of great support for teachers at the local level to understand and bring to practice for every day lessons.

“This year, more children are enrolled and we recruited two new teachers,” says Avith Ukurikiyeyezu, the school based mentor at Nyamiyaga School. “Laurence is the only one who was there before and got various trainings. As we start new competency-based curriculum, I assist all the 25 teachers from pre-primary to primary and secondary levels. I have been a facilitator for the teacher trainings. I try to guide them with new concepts in their daily teaching.”

© UNICEF Rwanda/2016/Crentsil
Awith with Bernabe, the Head Teacher from Nyamiaga School.

“Each teacher has different challenges. I listen and support the best I can. I am here as a co-teacher also advising on school leadership and management. I give ideas on how to use teaching aids and using locally available materials. I feel happy to help the teachers,” says Avith with a big smile.

The School Based Mentoring Program supports the Government of Rwanda’s work around improving language skills and instructional practices of teachers in basic education schools. In 2012, the government initiated the National School-Based Mentoring program, which was informed by UNICEF’s work in partnership with IEE and since then UNICEF has supported the development of the national programme through its membership on the School Based Mentoring Task Force. Through training and support for teachers, the program aims to enhance student learning outcomes.



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