Thursday, February 3, 2011

Introduction to Work

Officially we started work last Monday but we were thrown into it the previous Wednesday. We were brought to Rwamagana by the Headteacher of a local school and one of his teachers. They were amazingly helpful and really helped us to solve a few of the problems we encountered. So, needless to say, this was the first school we visited – three days on the run!! On the first day we were shown around by one of the teachers who spoke perfect English – a real bonus. The school is HVP Gatarara – Ecoles pour les Aveugles – the only school for the blind in the country which takes children from the full age range in including some adults from all over Rwanda and even some from Burundi. Children are taught in small classes of around 12 and all have their own Braille machines. Although a little noisy with the machines, real learning is taking place and the results for the school are excellent – a triumph for the staff.
On Thursday, we were invited to a meeting of the Primary School Headteachers at which we were introduced and we said a little about ourselves. I took the bull by the horns and did half of my bit in French – my first real experience of public speaking in another language. They seemed to understand so that couldn’t have been that bad. The meeting was held mainly in Kinyarwandan so not much else was understood by us but a few bits were translated so we got the gist.
On Friday, we went to the office and then back to the school for a big televised meeting of officers from all over the different districts of the country, representatives from the Ministry of Education (Mineduc) and the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) where secondary school teachers are trained to degree level to obtain Rwandan QTS. The purpose of the gathering of around 50 people was to demonstrate that the visually impaired were entailed to and could have a good education AND achieve good results. The assembled delegates could not help to be impressed after their visit to the classrooms, resource centre, dormitories and other facilities and hopefully they will start to roll out other schools offering the same kind of education. The highlight for me was seeing older boys playing Goal Ball with a very wide goal, three a side and a ball which made a tinkling sound when it moved. The accuracy was amazing. I felt ashamed of my former football skills!
Last Wednesday we visited the school next door which is an all age Groupe Scolaire School with children from 3 – 15 in maternelle, primaire and secondaire departments. The welcome was really great and the children were very interested to see us – so polite and responsive at all levels if not a little wide eyed at seeing the two white strangers from the UK. There were around 50 in a class and every class had a teacher.

So that’s the first week completed. Our jobs will become more varied from now on (we hope) as we visit schools and we should have a reasonable amount of autonomy in what we do. At the moment the office is very busy with the registration of around 100 new teachers in the district who are queuing to get their papers sorted out.

Children from Rwamagana Groupe Scolaire

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Hi, hope your enjoy reading about our adventures in Rwanda. We'd love to hear from you. Stephen and Mary