IEE’s School-based mentoring program complements the national School-based Mentoring Program-SBMP being implemented by Rwanda Education Board- REB.
Since 2005, IEE has collaborated with the Ministry of Education- MINEDUC, with support from partners to contribute to educational implementation.
In 2009, IEE launched its current model of in-service teacher development, that has complemented government efforts in this regard.
The International Education Exchange was founded in 2005 by Brett Perrine and Stephen Paletta and initially sought to coordinate opportunities for cultural, linguistic and social exchange between students at Bedford Elementary in New York and Kagugu Primary School in Kigali, Rwanda.
Expansion beyond the original idea
From 2005 to 2007, however, the project developed beyond student exchanges. Recognizing the need for infrastructure improvements at Kagugu, IEE worked in partnership with the Government of Rwanda to build three structures at the Rwandan school. The first project was a building that included a large meeting space, a library, an office, and a computer lab. Additional structures included a wing of modern classrooms and a block of latrines. In partnership with IEE, the Ministry of Education brought electricity, water, wireless internet and computers to the school. In this way, infrastructure improvements expanded IEE’s vision of cultural exchange. With modern facilities in place, professional training to maximize the improvements became important.
Development towards teacher training
IEE’s primary goal is to support the Ministry of Education in achieving its mission of transforming the Rwandan citizen into skilled human capital for socio-economic development of the country by fostering critical thinking and English language skills (ESSP 1.1). With the Net Enrollment Rate (NER) at 94.2%, the focus now is on the quality of education. Insufficiently trained teachers impact the GoR’s efforts to implement English as the medium of instruction, lower student readiness for the workforce, limit the effectiveness of NCDCs distribution of textbooks (ESSP 3.2.3), decrease the status of the teachers in communities, and decreases students’ preparation for higher education. Improving the quality of teachers is a high leverage activity for increasing the effectiveness of all education interventions while also directly impacting learning in the classroom. To this end, the Ministry has identified, “Developing a skilled and motivated teaching, training and lecturing workforce,” as a main priority for the education sector in 2010-2015 (ESSP 1.8). Against this backdrop and at the request of the Ministry of Education, IEE is focusing its efforts on creating a model of highly effective school based teacher training that can be scaled up to reach all teachers in Rwanda.
IEE will focus on supporting two of the main priorities for the education sector in 2010-2015 including: “Ensuring that educational quality continues to improve,” and “Developing a skilled and motivated teaching, training and lecturing workforce.”(ESSP 1.8) Additionally, the cross-cutting priority of developing English, as the medium of instruction is a key outcome of IEE’s school based teacher training (ESSP 3.1.2). As IEE expands and refines its model school based teacher training will support not only the specific schools where IEE is working but also provides a model for school level training the can be used by the Ministry and other stakeholders to expand the reach and depth of in-service teacher professional development.
Description of IEE’s SBTT
IEE’s School Based Teacher Training is direct and personalized professional development in English for communication and learner centered teaching methods that takes place in the school and responds to school culture and conditions. Focused, individual support provides short-term, concentrated language and pedagogical development and nurtures leadership in schools.
IEE School-Based Trainers are the key change agents for School Based Training; therefore, their understanding of key objectives and effective strategies is crucial. Implementation of the model begins with a comprehensive training program for Trainers. They attend an 80-hour program (ten eight-hour days) to deepen their understanding of and practice school-based training processes. They also acquire skills they need to work effectively with a variety of teachers who have a range of needs, and they learn strategies for prioritizing goals and affecting change.
Directly after training, Trainers are deployed to schools where they immediately begin their work, working alongside teachers to expand teaching methods and support English language development. School Based Teacher Trainers work in schools Monday through Thursday during regular school hours and also arrange with teachers and school administrators additional community-building and English activities outside of school hours.
Once every two weeks, School Based Teacher Trainers gather for further professional development. At these weekly meetings, they report progress, share successful strategies and problem-solve. These meetings provide an opportunity for IEE and the Ministry of Education to monitor the course of the current implementation phase.
Once schools demonstrate an ability to provide their own language and pedagogy leadership, and dependent on perceived need by program supporters, School Based Trainers move to new schools in different districts. The selection of schools is determined by the Ministry of Education’s priorities and District Education Officers’ recommendations. IEE School-based Teacher Training Program complements the Rwanda Education Board (REB) School-based Mentoring Program (SBMP) initiatives of school-based teacher support for professional development, Mentor Training and School Based Teacher Training which form a cohesive, complementary and comprehensive plan that supports the advancement of primary and lower secondary school teaching and learning throughout Rwanda.
IEE SBTT program survival strategy: The Aftercare Program
The IEE Aftercare Program is used as a way of sustaining revolutionary education practices in cohorts of schools that have undergone the IEE School Based Teacher Training Program. The IEE Aftercare Program focusses on supporting identified teachers who carry on the work of helping their fellow teachers after the IEE School-based Teacher Trainer has completed their work in the school. This is IEE’s best practice sustainability model at the school level. The aftercare program is aimed at supporting and enhancing the good practices demonstrated by the teacher trainer, to ensure that teachers have an increasing curiosity to further their knowledge of English and that learner-centered teaching practices continue to suffice in the school, leading to creative-active learners whose improved learning outcomes demonstrate innate understanding of content and have life-long learning attitudes.