This post forms part of the Rwanda Series after attending the Rwanda Education Summit in Musanze from 21st – 26th May 2012. Read further posts in the series here.
Our final day of the summit is a day of action. Through our questions, we have been able to pinpoint the areas of action and change, which reflect what we have seen, experienced and discussed.
There are 6 areas of change which were recurring in all of the conversations;
- Transform curriculum
- Transform teacher training
- Transform learning
- Transform learning environments
- Transform support
- Transform assessment
As we form our groups for the culmination of ideas, it is a picture of empowerment as the local principals, parents and young people are the key holders of conversation. For us who have travelled it is a great opportunity to take a back seat, allowing the people who collectively form education in Rwanda, to take control.
Sarah, a volunteer teacher from New Zealand had opened my eyes to idea of ‘fly in, fly out’ people. They see many of these in Rwanda. Early on I resigned to the fact that I was a ‘fly in, fly out’ visitor and I was conscious of this when I responded in discussions. As someone who had only been in the country a few days I was well aware of my lack of understanding of the real obstacles that Rwandans face, so I was therefore not qualified to make decisions on their behalf.
Rwanda has shown remarkable strength in how they have shifted culture since the Genocide in 1994. As 800,00 people lost their lives, the rest of the world held back and in the end it was the troops of Kagame’s RPF, which brought an end to the Genocide. Since then they have stood as one and stepped forward together to create a country of unity. When empowered to create your own solutions it produces an inner strength worth so much more than any gift. As aid agenceies have learnt, you can not continue to give without any ownership as it builds no inner strength or skill. Just as with education, we can not spoon feed students learning. It gives it no meaning or worth. We must own our own learning.
With these thoughts heavy in my mind I am pleased to see the actions being created by the people who will shape them for Rwanda. I sit back and hear Sam, a parent, share his ideas of using teacher training time on pedagogy, focussing on how to teach rather than what to teach. Barack, the young entrepreneur, shares his ideas of adding school placements to teacher training. It is inspiring to hear and I can’t help wishing I could bottle it!
The principals who have worked with us will now take these actions back to their schools. I have confidence that these conversations will be popping up in schools all over Rwanda. I know as I head back to Australia I will take with me the confidence that with the people I have met, and the message we share, education reform is not only a dream but has a reality about it. I am thankful for the experiences, conversations and laughter shared with amazing people who prompted me to reflect on my own ideas and find direction in my own thoughts.