The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Nation Wins Prestigious Commonwealth Education Award

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Rwanda's model gained recognition as one that could be exemplary to other countries on how to mobilize and utilize community resources in contexts of expanding access to education.

The country's best practices addressed at least three other action areas outlined in the competition guidelines which include elimination of gender disparities in education, improvement in quality of education and supporting education in difficult circumstances.

The noteworthy essentials in 'Rwanda's best practice' that most likely led to Rwanda's victory in this competition include, the innovative and unconventional approach to school construction and planning in which the communities took part; and the adoption of Rwanda's traditional values and systems such as "Umuganda" and "Imihigo".

These enhanced the level of community ownership in the schools.

The approach demonstrated cost-effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability thus leading to a rapid increase in enrollment, retention and completion rates at primary and secondary school levels.

The approach also set the basis for extending the programme to twelve years and more.

The Fast Tracking strategy was also supported by several development partners, including sector co-chairs DFID and UNICEF, with financial support also coming from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) - formerly known as FTI.

Infrastructure standards and guidelines were developed, based on the UNICEF Child Friendly School Model to ensure the quality of school construction during the fast tracking programme.

The Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards are held every three years to celebrate and promote new and innovative education projects from across the Commonwealth.

Ten finalists presented their programmes to a panel of expert adjudicators before the ceremony.

The practices covered issues such as basic education; numeracy and literacy; climate change education; teacher training; inclusive education; youth; and teaching mother tongue at an early education stage.

According to the judges, the project addressed the pressing need for expansion of education after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; it represented a qualitative shift in the dynamics of schooling and made a major contribution to national reconciliation.

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