Monday in Kigali

Jay and I just got back from a visit at George Fox College Secondary School. We spent the afternoon with the headmaster and a teacher who served as our interpreter. It became apparent to us that even though English is the official language of instruction, few of the teachers we met were fluent. We had the opportunity to not only converse with a group of teachers and tour a primary and secondary school, we also brought greetings to two groups of students, one a biology class and the other a fifth grade class. We were treated well, with great respect and courtesy. Jay and I sat with the headmaster, Safari, in his office and we asked about conditions in his school and challenges he faced.

We also shared a little about the geography of Oregon and compared school conditions with those in our community. George Fox School is a private, church-related school and as such, receives no assistance from the government. Most of the challenges cited by Safari were related to financial resources. This school of 870 students had a faculty of 20. We toured the science lab and the library and discovered a marked lack of books, supplies and equipment. We learned that students paid the equivalent of $83 USD per term in school fees to attend the school. I asked what a typical teacher salary was, and the answer I received had to do with teacher preparation rather than salaries. Both the headmaster and our interpreter agreed that teachers were well prepared, many of them coming from the Kigali Institute of Education.

By being in two classrooms, it became apparent that teacher-delivered lectures, using the blackboard as the visual aide, were a primary mode of instruction. I asked for a volunteer in the biology classroom to teach us about asexual reproduction, which I saw was the topic for the day. The young man, who did not exactly volunteer (his teacher drafted him), did a nice job of reviewing the points on the board, but added nothing to what was there. I wanted to ask a follow up question, but I realized that I might be expecting something that was a bit inappropriate for the situation, so I chose instead to acknowledge his good work, and joined the applause that went up for him from his classmates.

Prior to our visit to the school, Aryn Baxter, our hostess from Food for the Hungry, introduced us to Savannah Keith, the country director for a small NGO called the International Education Exchange. Their project in Rwanda is to do instructional coaching of in-service primary teachers, especially working on learner-centered approaches and on English instruction. Aryn is volunteering her time to help them with some evaluation of their program,. This program provided two school regions with help at the school level. Savannah was very knowledgeable and passionate. She represented what they are doing as a pilot project, which she believes should be adopted by the Ministry of Education at some point in the future.

Today I also met briefly with my friend David Bucura and with my friend Heri Bonheur. Heri invited us to come to lunch at his home and I told him I would call him on Tuesday morning. He also introduced me to Nambe, a young woman, whose sister Grace I met in December. She said she would like to visit with me about Grace while I am here. I also saw David and Debby Thomas and Brad and Chelsea Carpenter. A full day so far!

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One Comment on “Monday in Kigali”

  1. Katie King Says:

    What a pleasure it is to read about your travels and this first day. Thanks for the message on my wall in facebook too. While I find traveling physically more and more demanding, the excitement of seeing new friends and of the openings to other worlds makes it all worth it. I am holding you, the people you encounter, and the journey itself all in the Light.


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