Sunday, August 7, 2011

Global Schools Partnership

Rwamagana Heads in partnership with Nottingham
There are quite a number of schools in Rwanda that are linked with the British Council / VSO Global Schools Partnership. About six weeks ago I was in the office of the Préfet d’Etudes of St Aloys Secondary School in Rwamagana. He told me he had such a partnership with a UK school (although not through GSP). He was keen to show me the pictures and immediately, totally taken aback, I recognised the uniform of John Fisher where our two sons had attended and nephew currently attends. Out of 24,500 schools in the UK, this joint venture had been embarked upon by schools we knew well in both countries. Whilst we were home, we went to John Fisher and gave a presentation to a Year 10 Group about the Rwamagana District and St Aloys in particular.

Rwamagana Display in John Fisher
Following the same theme, the Rwamagana District where we work has been partnered by the City of Nottingham. I had been working on this for a few weeks before we went home. Last Friday, there was a workshop in which we were involved with the coordinating committees of the ten schools which will be linked with the same number of schools in Nottingham. One snag might be, however, that some of the schools here of 2,500+ children will be linked with UK primary schools of around 350.

Perceptions of UK
We gave a presentation on facts and figures relating to Nottingham and another of the perceptions of our Rwandese colleagues of the UK. Understandably, without access to real information, they came out with many stereotypical views of England which often were far from the truth. They were shocked when they heard that English people drank tea and thought that it would make you fat (African tea has at least four spoons of sugar per cup). I was saddened when they were surprised to hear of one parent families, a population who didn’t go to church or even believe in God and that Old Folks could be put into a home and not cared for by their families. The concepts of credit cards, online shopping and women who might be independent was totally alien. But why would they not be? Rwanda was alien to us when we first arrived. The truth of the matter is that both cultures have systems, family structures and ways of doing things that are different, and in many cases, better and sometimes worse than the other. I have no doubt that the same exercise with Nottinghamshire teachers will produce the same results. Whichever way you look at it, it is two groups of educationalists hopefully doing their best for the children in their care in different cultural circumstances and the joint venture can only do some good in terms of breaking down those perceptions into understandable and realistic insights into the two totally different ways of life.
Fantas and Mandazis
As a total aside, we were reading the headlines of the Rwanda New Times yesterday and spotted the following quotation from Andrew Mitchell, the UK Minister for Overseas Development……

“Rwanda is one of our most successful development partnerships. It means that at heart we are friends of Rwanda……… It is one of our best development relationships we have in the world…….It has being piloted as a new pilot programme
for assistance to Africa.”

Group Discussion

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