Rwanda: Teachers 'Need Refresher Training' Ahead of School Reopening

21 October 2020

Government has been urged to organise a refresher training programme for public school teachers as schools prepare for reopening.

The appeal comes at a time when most schools are readying themselves to reopen after nearly seven months of closure due to Covid-19.

Many teachers ventured into other professions for survival months or weeks into the temporary closure of schools.

Athanase Nyabyenda, Director of Studies, TTC Murura, Rusizi District, said training would get teachers ready for the reopening.

"Teachers, particularly those in public schools, need refresher courses because many of them have been engaged in totally different undertakings over the last couple of months," said Nyabyenda.

He said that many teachers from his school were now working as vendors in markets or farmers. "Some have become fishermen."

"I can guarantee you that if teachers don't do a refresher course, teaching will be different, especially in the first days. And, of course, this will affect the students," Nyabyenda said.

Eulade Sibomana, Head Teacher, G.S Bugarama Cite, echoed the same sentiments, particularly noting that most teachers in rural areas were generally lagging behind their counterparts in urban areas.

"The biggest challenge is with teachers in rural areas who have not been teaching for the past seven months. At my school, I have tried to engage them but it is clear that more needs to be done," Sibomana said.

He added: "Most of these teachers don't have access to digital tools (and so could not be involved in remote education), so they ended up getting involved in non-educational activities for survival."

A refresher course would help such teachers get ready mentally and pedagogically, he noted.

Efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Education and Rwanda Education Board were futile but a source said REB was currently focused on the ongoing English proficiency test for teachers.

According to a recently announced schedule, primary and secondary schools that follow the national curriculum will reopen in phases, starting next month.

However, pupils in lower primary (public schools) will have to wait longer for in-person classes.

Meanwhile, higher learning institutions in the country have since resumed physical classes.

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