EF Education First in Partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and the Rwanda Development Board Expands Upskilling Program to Boost Tourism and Hospitality Industry in Rwanda

EF Education First (EF) has announced the second phase of an ambitious English language and service skills training program, which aims to upskill workers in the tourism and hospitality industry value chain in Rwanda.
1 April 2021
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Mastercard Foundation (Africa)

Kigali, Rwanda — EF Education First (EF) announced today the second phase of an ambitious English language and service skills training program, which aims to upskill workers in the tourism and hospitality industry value chain. After the encouraging progress of 2,000 learners in the first phase, the second phase will see the program scale to 6,500 learners with the aim of employing a total of 30,000 workers by 2022.

A recent survey shows that 94% of participants in the EF program believe that the skills they learned will increase their work opportunities. Christian Herve, a 33-year-old Rwandan entrepreneur/student who is one of the program’s top learners and ambassador stated, “Studying with Education First is important to me because I want to improve my abilities to speak, write, and read in English. As a Food and Beverages Director, improving my English proficiency and my communication skills will allow me to better manage and lead my teams, express myself more effectively in meetings, and provide a higher level of customer service to our guests.”

Halfway through the 12-month program, 16% of the survey respondents reported having received a promotion or a new job offer, while another 19% attained an increase in salary. These achievements are particularly significant in a period of economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am now confident interacting with clients, which will help me to perform well at work. My motivation to achieve my goal has increased tremendously,” said Vanessa Kanyabutembo, Front Office Staff & University of Tourism, Business and Technology student.

EF learners also report an extraordinary improvement in their confidence and a positive outlook on their future careers thanks to the program.

The expected impact of the initiative is significant, as learners are building critical transferable skills (e.g., English proficiency, service mindedness, communication skills, and business acumen) as well as the confidence to express themselves. This will inevitably improve their ability to perform well in interviews, increase their employability, and enhance their social mobility by being able to apply these skills, across a multitude of industries, particularly if the tourism sector takes a longer time to recover.

“We are excited about the positive impact the training program is having on workers in the tourism and hospitality industry. Having skilled personnel remains critical in the service sector. The growing interest of learners in the program is proof that it is of benefit to them,” said Belise Kariza, RDB Chief Tourism Officer . We look forward to a sustained partnership to ensure that more people are well equipped with the much-needed transferable skills in the ever-evolving tourism and hospitality sector.”

The program is part of the larger Mastercard Foundation’s Hanga Ahazaza initiative (which means “Create the Future” in Kinyarwanda) . It aims to equip 30,000 young people with the skills needed to find and/or create jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector and beyond.

“This program comes at a time when the tourism and hospitality industry has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and when employees and economic actors in the sector are going to need additional skills to recover faster. This initiative will provide local youth with the right skills and competencies to effectively compete in the marketplace, sa id Rica Rwigamba, Country Head, Mastercard Foundation, Rwanda.

Delivered mainly through EF ’s online platforms and mobile apps , the program helps learners build critical language and communication skills. As a result, workers in the industry will be better prepared to deliver high-profile, global events such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which will be hosted in Rwanda in June 2021.

To ensure the successful delivery of the program, Education First is working with critical private sector partners such as Mara Phones and Airtel in a bid to increase equality and learner engagement. Mara Phones, the producer of the first high specification, affordable smartphone to be manufactured in Africa, has donated a smartphone to each EF Learner of the Month, while, Airtel, a leading provider of telecommunications services in Rwanda, is supporting participants by zero-rating the use of EF’s online language school.

The partners are proud to extend the program as part of Rwanda’s recovery efforts, focusing on building the critical skills that employees need and businesses require to innovate, grow, and thrive in the 21 st century globalized economy.

“The success of this program is the result of a public-private partnership between the Rwanda Development Board, the Mastercard Foundation, and EF. We are grateful for the support of all the partners involved and we are humbled by the trust given to us to expand our program in Rwanda to provide career opportunities for young people seeking dignified work in the tourism and hospitality sector. Ultimately, we want to ensure sustainable economic growth and a better future for Rwanda,” said Oriane Ruzibiza, Country Head at EF in Rwanda.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Education First
Oriane Ruzibiza
Program Manager, Rwanda Telephone +250784950569
Email: ext.oriane.ruzibiza@ef.com

Mastercard Foundation
Nicolas Emane
Partner, Program Communications, Rwanda Telephone +250783720809
Email: nemane@mastercardfdn.org

Rwanda Development Board
Doreen Ingabire
Head of Communications Telephone +2507895255598 Email: doreen.ingabire@rdb.rw

About EF Education First (www.ef.com)

Established in 1965 in Sweden with the mission to “open the world through education”, EF is the world’s leading international education company. With a network of more than 52,000 teachers, researchers, and staff in over 600 offices and schools in more than 50 countries, EF is a trusted partner of the leading companies of the world and governments on all continents. EF engages in public-private partnerships globally to create significant positive impact on human capital development as well as the competitiveness of entire industries and countries.

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org

About Rwanda Development Board ( www.rdb.rw)

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is a government agency in Rwanda with a vision to transform Rwanda into a dynamic global hub for business, investment, and innovation. Its mission is to fast-track economic development in Rwanda by enabling private sector growth.

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