A few weeks ago we wrapped up our first Teaching Methodology Training here in Kigali, Rwanda through the International Finance Corporation (IFC).  As it was a pilot project with new content, we really weren’t sure how it would go, but we were hopeful that our approach would make a deep impact on the schools that attended.

The training was created to target school owners, Principals, Deans of Study, and Head Teachers.  The goal of this training is to create a team structure at the school, which can work to create quality learning environments that are aligned to the individual schools’ needs, visions, and goals.  Throughout the 5 day workshop, school leaders came together to practice and learn current teaching methodology strategies, in an effort to go back and train their staff.  Professional Development calendars were created, and leaders gained strategies in such topics as active learning, positive behavior management, and group work.

We underestimated the weight and importance of this type of training for Rwanda.  Throughout the training, the 42 participants from low-cost, private Christian schools in Kigali, debated one another, challenged one another’s thinking, and encouraged one another to be open minded to new content.  This was a new way of thinking for them – a shift from teacher-centered, with the principal at the top of the hierarchy, to student-centered, with a team supporting student success.

This shift in pedagogy and thinking is needed here in Rwanda.  Why then, wouldn’t we provide this opportunity directly to the teachers?

The answer is because if really good teachers are not supported, they often will not be able to implement what they have learned from a workshop.  Their isolated efforts will frequently end in frustration.  Instead, if we are able to train key leaders who can instill change, we change the school from the inside out.  No longer are isolated teachers alone espousing quality, but the school as a whole becomes the catalyst for change.  This has to be a movement from within.  We also are able to impact so many more students using this model.  By training 42 key leaders at 14 schools directly, they can go back and train as many 140 teachers at their schools.  These teachers have the potential to impact as many as 4,200 students!

As one participant from the training stated: “We are the ones who are stuck in our ways.  The ministry has been asking us to be participatory and child centered for 2 years, why can’t we change?”

As Edify staff makes follow-up visits in the next few weeks, we hope to see the kind of change that was spoken of at the training.  One school owner stood up at the training and asked the key question, “What’s next?”  He knew that something was going to be different, but that he needed to be supported in this effort.  These relationships are so rewarding and the progress made by these schools is felt in the comments from a few of the exit slips seen below (click on the image to enlarge).