REAP (Rwandan Girls’ Education and Advancement Programme) will improve the life chances of marginalised girls in poor and rural areas. Through a holistic, partnership-based approach we will support school improvement, in turn supporting girls (as well as boys) to complete their education and enter employment.
Prejudice and Multiple Barriers
With strong political commitment to gender parity, Rwanda is ahead of other countries in the region in promoting gender equality in education. Generally, throughout Nyaruguru district, at the primary level girls’ enrolment is around the same as that of boys, but at secondary level, girls tend to be admitted to lower quality schools, and are at higher risk of dropping out. Communities prioritise boys’ education, believing them to have greater income opportunities, a prejudice which is often carried into schools and teaching practice.
Within schools, many teachers are underqualified. In 2008, the language of instruction switched from French to English and teachers received just 2 months of English training, leaving many without the skills and confidence to teach effectively. Reading materials in English and the local language, Kinyarwanda, are scarce. Many Parent-Teacher Associations have plans to improve schools and make them more girl-friendly but lack strong knowledge about literacy, teaching methods and school governance.
We will bring our innovative School Performance Review (HYPERLINK) work to Rwanda for the first time, engaging with and empowering communities to work with school stakeholders towards improvement. We will work with the Rwanda Education Board to develop standardised inspection tools for teaching and learning, leadership and management, community engagement, school governance and gender responsiveness. We will build the capacity of district education staff to assess schools using these criteria, and support schools to share the results with parents and the wider community in order to plan for whole school improvement and meet the needs of all children, including the most vulnerable girls.
Within communities, we will form Study Groups led by Link-trained volunteers who will use fun, participatory, game-based exercises focused on Kinyarwanda, English and Maths to raise the learning outcomes of girls (and boys). Learning materials like posters, educational games and stories will be made out of locally available materials (e.g. rice sacks, cardboard, bottle tops) by community volunteers, ensuring local ownership, sustainability, cultural relevance and gender sensitivity of the materials.
“My daughter was very shy and was not performing well. (After joining the study group) she is among the strongest learners who help their fellows when we are working in groups. She sometimes brings story books at home and she reads to her siblings. This is when I noticed that her reading pace has been increased.” – Teacher and Mother