Education in Rwanda
The students in Rwanda are very intelligent and motivated but the main problem is that while they have a solid theoretical understanding of the English language they have absolutely no understanding of practical application. I was very surprised the first day that my students couldn’t introduce themselves or their neighbor but when asked to provide vocabulary words that correspond to every letter of the alphabet we received words like immunity, virus, irrigation, and solar power. Even my youngest students (probably 10 years old) can identify the present progressive tense but simple speaking exercises are nearly impossible. The exciting news is that with lots (and I mean LOTS) of explanation and encouragement the students are willing to explore new methods of learning. It is simply a question of teaching them a new way to learn since they are used to copying notes from a board and memorizing technical terms for exams. Today I attempted to teach my students about poetry with the end goal of having them create their own poems, but after about 15 minutes of blank stares and empty notebooks it was pretty apparent that my lesson plan needed to be adapted. We ended up writing poems together as a class and it went rather well, so there is hope for my future students that, with enough encouragement and support, they will be able to tap into their creative outlet that has been stunted by years of rote memorization. There is so much potential for the future of Rwanda, but with the sudden switch from French to English as the medium of instruction the students are suffering. Imagine receiving your entire education in a foreign language and then imagine that a majority of your teachers are not even fluent (or in many cases even proficient) in that language. On a positive note- it is really exciting to be part of this change and I am looking forward to watching the future development of education in Rwanda!