Our Next African Adventure

Ruth and I will be leaving this Sunday for our trip to Africa. We will be visiting Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda. In anticipation, I am learning to use my iPod Touch to make entries here. I hope to become a little more proficient in the use of my mobile device. This will take some doing.

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One Comment on “Our Next African Adventure”

  1. Gayle Denham Says:

    Teacher education is critical here in Central Africa. Following is my weekly note to family showcasing changes on this campus initiated by new requirements for teachers and administrators:

    20 May 2011
    Kamembe, RWANDA

    Another week almost over; the time here is passing so quickly. And all around us the system of education is continually reaching toward higher standards for teachers, administrators, and students. This week our dean of studies – the equivalent of a vice-principal – has accepted a position as the headmaster (principal) of the Catholic secondary school here in Kamembe. HABIMANA Emmanuel has been a strong advocate for us on this campus and we will miss him. His position will be filled by Denyse, a young woman whose degree is in economics.

    Denyse and HABIMANA both have university degrees in education. Trained and certified educators are what the Ministry of Education will be requiring in all schools. This requirement will force huge changes on the schools. This school, Friends School of Kamembe (FSK), has a strong administration and by Rwandan standards is efficiently and profitably run, educating students that pass the national examinations in large numbers. Our headmaster has secondary school training in animal husbandry and a bachelor’s degree in community development. Before assuming the leadership of this school he taught computer science at the Friends’ secondary school in Kigali. His family still lives in Kigali. He will not lead this school next year because he does not have training or certification in education.

    The headmasters in the north, Butaro and Kidaho where we taught last year, are both pastors of the Friends Church. Bonaventure, headmaster at ESK, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education in Uganda. He will probably retain his position, but the headmaster at Butaro may not. The Ministry of Education wants all administration, including masters of discipline (the equivalent of Student Life administration on these resident campuses), to hold degrees in education. This seems reasonable by our standards, but Rwanda does not have many educators who are formally trained and certified as teachers.

    And the teachers… Here at FSK, fully half of the teachers are young people who also attend the National University in Butare – 3 ½ hours from here. Most do not intend to stay in education; it is a job that will help them finish their own education. This does not mean they are cavalier in their approach to teaching students, just that this is not their calling. Last week, during final exams at the University, many teachers were in Butare all week and the discipline staff taught their classes. The master of discipline at FSK is an engaging young man who holds a bachelor’s degree in community development – he may also be looking for another position in the near future. The matron, patron, and athletic director have no degrees beyond secondary school. These individuals live on campus and spend and invest huge amounts of time with students.

    Yes, the face of education in Rwanda is changing rapidly and we are here to observe it. All these requirements are for the improvement of the system, but growing pains and struggles to adjust will be evident at all levels. The ability to communicate in English is of high value throughout the education system. Our role is to encourage and enhance the teachers’ acquisition of this language. It is gratifying to witness their continual improvement in vocabulary and pronunciation.

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