This program was piloted with support from the Innovation for Education Fund, a partnership between the Governments of Rwanda and the UK, managed by Cambridge Education
This project sought to improve the learning outcomes of learners in Primary 4 (P4), the first year after they have transitioned from learning in Kinyarwanda to English. Language supportive textbooks were developed and used in schools. P4 teachers and trainers at Teacher Training Colleges were trained in related language supportive pedagogical techniques.
The textbooks promoted the use of simple language and sentence structure while also allowing for language development through writing, reading and speaking activities. Kinyarwanda was used in glossaries and structured parts of the lesson. Science, Maths and Social studies authors from all publishers based in Rwanda were trained to develop prototype textbooks and teacher guides. Guidelines for publishers and textbook evaluators were also produced. Textbooks were provided to P4 learners in 8 schools across Burera, Kamonyi, Nyagatare and Ngororero districts and 48 teachers were trained in the use of these textbooks and language supportive pedagogy. There was a total reach of 638 students.
At the national level the project worked with MINEDUC/REB, publishers and the University of Rwanda College of Education (UR-COE) to embed key elements of language supportiveness into textbooks, pre-service teacher training and the wider policy and curriculum.
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CEI approaches in action
The most important next step will be the continuation to advocate (using the project champions) the core components of language supportiveness within REB and publishers in order to impact on the development of new textbooks and teacher guides as part of the curriculum implementation process.
Other practical next steps include:
- Bristol University to conclude the work on early scale up, including dissemination of
- report on barriers to textbook project and textbook evaluators’ training in ‘early scale up’, and share this with REB and the technical working group on Curriculum, Materials and Assessment.
- Bristol University, the College of Education and REB Curriculum & Materials Department (CMD) to propose and plan for the language supportive pedagogy training to be written into the teacher training programmes at UR-CoE (model 2, 3).
- Bristol University and REB CMD to continue to work on the integration of language supportive issues in (i) textbook evaluation criteria and (ii) training provided as part of the implementation of the new curriculum (model 2, 3)
- REB with technical support from Bristol University to support in-service teachers in language supportive pedagogical training working within the existing national framework of (senior) school based mentors (model 3) – subject to funding.
Monitoring & Evaluation
The project was evaluated at the school level by baseline and post-intervention student vocabulary and comprehension tests (but these two versions of tests were not comparable), classroom observations and interviews with teachers, head teachers and learners and with focus groups at the national level.
The majority of teachers made positive changes to their teaching practice and used the textbooks effectively with the learners. The main outcome was that learners performed overall 16% better than control schools for tests (project schools mean 63% [N=550] compared with 47% at comparator schools [N=525]).based on the topics in the books, as well as in individual subjects (English language, mathematics, social studies and science). Classroom practice also resulted in a more consistent use of textbooks and other learning materials, more learner talk and more learner-centred activities. Thus showing the combination of better constructed textbooks and teacher pedagogy, can lead to better student outcomes. The detail of the role of each of these in improving outcomes is, however, not answered by the study.