27.07.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Enhancing Quality and Inclusive Education in Rwanda

Training of Master Trainers in Kirehe District, Rwanda to develop a new model for the integration of inclusive education practices in primary and secondary classrooms, Copyright UNESCO 2017.

UNESCO, in collaboration with the Rwanda Education Board (REB), conducted the second phase of a pilot exercise to enhance inclusive education teaching and learning methodologies by training twenty teachers as Master Trainers from local primary and secondary schools. A manual containing practical teaching strategies and activities is also under development to support teachers in the classroom. This tested model on Inclusive Education will be rolled out nationally in 2018.

Rwanda’s 2013/14-2017/18 Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) emphasizes the need for a more innovative approach to inclusive education to improve enrolment, progression, transition and completion rates of the most vulnerable populations, if targets are to be achieved. Moreover, the new competence-based curriculum calls for the use of new learner and child-friendly centred approaches for effective teaching and learning, with inclusive education as a cross cutting orientation. Consistent with this overarching framework, in 2016, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) has updated its policy, developed a strategic plan and a teachers’ guide on inclusive and special needs education. However, despite these initiatives, inclusive education remains a new concept in Rwanda and many teachers lack the basic knowledge and skills to implement it in the classroom.

To support the Ministry of Education’s (MINEDUC) sector priority on inclusive education, The Rwanda Education Board (REB) in partnership with UNESCO, conducted, in Nkakarambi, from 7 to 11 November 2016, the first phase of a pilot training exercise on inclusive education targeting twenty teachers to become Master Trainers. Teachers were provided with practical skills related to inclusive education, in particular activities and tools they can employ in their schools and classrooms. The training of Master Trainers also included a plan for them to cascade the training to other teachers in their own respective schools to test the methodology and materials.

A manual for teachers, including practical tools and classroom activities, was developed prior to this training so that Master Trainers could pilot it in schools to generate useful feedback before finalizing a model.

The second phase of the training took place from 26 to 30 June 2017 and focused on i) reinforcing and complementing participants knowledge and skills on inclusive education, ii) sharing experiences and best practices based on the cascade trainings, and ii) collecting feedback to refine the manual and finalise a model for rollout and monitoring and evaluation of the programme and manual nationally. Throughout the pilot, training also included twenty headteachers from the same schools on the first day of each phase, to build their familiarity with inclusive education, develop support for the exercise, and brief them on the project and its progress.

Participants concluded the training with a stronger sense of inclusive education and provided key feedback to finalise the teachers’ manual, rollout and monitoring and evaluation plans towards a national model for inclusive education that could be adapted and used by schools across Rwanda in primary and secondary education. The cascade training also had immediate impacts at schools. In addition to more than 700 teachers receiving some instruction on inclusive education from Master Trainers, several schools constructed access ramps for children with difficulties in mobility. In addition, some schools made greater efforts to ensure children with various disabilities from the community were attending class, for instance, by developing greater awareness amongst community members and advocating for children to help each other in transportation to and from school.

As mentioned by the UNESCO Programme Coordinator, Mr Peter Wallet, “Inclusive education is a priority for the Rwanda Ministry of Education and supporting its implementation is key to leaving no one behind. Just based on the initial training, it is apparent that efforts by you—the teachers—are already having profound impacts on how education is delivered.”

This pilot exercise has been informed by results of a needs assessment conducted through a REB/UNESCO consultative process in June 2016 including observational analysis of school-based teaching and learning processes, interviews, and a roundtable event with relevant stakeholders working in inclusive education including REB, UNICEF and Handicap. The consultation led to the recommendation to develop a toolkit for active learning based on very practical strategies that would promote strong analytical and problem solving skills. Ideally this toolkit should be in the form of short user-friendly booklets that teachers would find easy to use.

This activity falls within the partnership between UNESCO and the Ministry of Education on ´Strengthening quality teaching and learning for Education for all in Eastern Africa’, funded by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). It aims at strengthening capacities in planning, managing and monitoring teacher education. In this regard, the status of the teacher education system is also being assessed in view of the development of a National strategic framework on pre-service/in-service training.

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