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 teaches spatial thinking as a means to to empower young people with improved conceptual and geographic ICT (geo-ICT) technical skills. Teachers are trained in spatial thinking, geo-ICT, and mapping concepts. Students learn geo-ICTs such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to map the local environment surrounding their schools. Spatial thinking curriculum created as part of the program includes reflection on environmental issues relevant to the geographical area of the schools. The project was implemented in upper secondary classrooms in two schools in Huye and Gisagara Districts.
The project was managed by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a US University, in collaboration with the Centre for Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (CGIS) at the University of Rwanda and the Rwanda Environmental Conservation Organization (RECOR).
The acquisition of spatial thinking and geo-ICT skills links with Goal 3 of the ESSP, to strengthen the relevance of education and training to the labour market, and specifically focuses on the need for transferable skills, such as communications, ICT, and problem solving. As spatial thinking is a skill developed through life-long learning, the project is also very relevant to ESSP Goal 1 of promoting educational access at all levels. The project’s strong emphasis on teacher geo-ICT skill and curriculum training also make the project relevant to ESSP Goal 2 of improving education and training quality.
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CEI approaches in action
- Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) and REB CMD, with advice from the TWG curriculum & materials, to discuss what options there are to have an impact on the curriculum implementation process, with a focus on teacher training and use of additional resources and content to implement the new curriculum.
- RIT to further analyse the options for making technology available at a larger scale and provide good justi cations why the proposed use of technology indeed provides good value for money, and discuss this with the Ministry and relevant TWGs (TPD and curriculum & materials), ensuring a link with the Ministry’s ICT Masterplan.
- RIT to identify additional funding for the initial scale up to 10 schools and use the time of implementation to discuss with the Ministry and to identify a sustainable way of scaling up the innovation, owned and managed by REB and unblocking the current technology investment barriers.
- MINEDUC/REB as the Hub for Innovation to explore and broker possible relationships with private sector and NGO providers of ICT goods and services.
Monitoring & Evaluation
The evaluation has control and treatment schools evaluated at baseline and end-line but, with only a small number of schools, it is too small to be an experimental design. There are two measures of student learning outcomes: a spatial thinking ability test (STAT) and a concept mapping task. The former gives scores (and sub-scores) for different aspects of spatial thinking ability based on scientific literature. There was also a community mapping exercise to use the software to create a sample map (not a real map), graded in terms of the sophistication of the map representation.
Both treatment (2) and control (1) schools showed an increase in spatial thinking ability, though the percentage increase in score of the control school was higher than the other two (but the absolute score was lower). The GR claims differences among schools relate to their location (e.g. in forestry and agriculture areas). The GR also attributes the increases to dedicated teachers who remained vigilant with the project as, over time, project interaction became more challenging as the intervention was outside normal classroom activity. These explanations have limited data to support them. The concept mapping showed improvement in geo-ICT concept understanding at the two treatment schools (control school did not do it).