In 2015, officials of a Korean firm known as Booyoung Co. Ltd showed an interest in boosting the teaching of music in Rwanda’s Public Primary Schools.
They handed over 2000 pianos, then shook hands and took a group photo with local education officials and called it a day.
Barely eight years later, reports indicate that the music instruments were not necessarily put to good use in all schools.
Teachers, school officials in some schools told KT Press that the Pianos they received were not used ever since, because they don’t have teachers who are able to handle them.
“Since we received the donation, the ‘before and after’ is still the same thing; we don’t have a trained teacher who knows to play and teach the instrument,” a teacher from Rubavu said.
In this district, it was even worse for C.S Gacuba II/C which closed doors in 2022 leaving the equipment idle, and later on covered by duster and those include the donated piano.
A school official in Nyabihu also told KT Press that they would love the Ministry of Education to appoint a music teacher who can help schools put the instrument to good use.
“There are many technological devices that they bring to our schools but you find that they do not bring someone who knows how to use them, nor do they give proper training to ably and interested teachers to learn the new skills so as to help the students,” the official said.
“In result, the equipment ends up in storage where they would get damaged before serving their purpose.”
Another teacher in Kigali said that they only play the piano they were given “for fun”.
However, another official in Kigali admitted that his school was given a trained teacher who could teach students to play piano, but his project was not sustained because he was reoriented to another school later on.
“We were lucky to also have another teacher with some skills in music, but he is overloaded with other work. He really can’t help us,” said the school official.
He goes on to ask the Ministry of Education to help find special music teachers because that would be a long-lasting solution.
According to Gerard Nyandwi Ndagijimana, curriculum officer of Music subject in Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) they are working on a plan to train the teachers.
So far, the training was provided to 10 teachers per district, but he admits that more is needed.
“Across the country, we have trained teachers twice, in 2018 and in October, 2022. We gave a five-day training to 300 teachers in regular schools and 16 others from Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs),” Ndagijimana revealed.
REB expects the trained teachers to train their fellows from remaining schools in their respective districts, but Ndagijimana said that they are concerned that the process is not going seamlessly.
“When we do a follow-up, the District Education Officers(DEOs) tell us that they have scheduled the training in the next holidays,” Ndagijimana said adding that as far as REB is concerned, they were able to train a few teachers due to limited resources.
Keeping other factors constant however, Ndagijimana said that schools tend to undermine music course.
“We encourage students, and School leaders should know that no subject is better than another, and give it equal value with others because sometimes they don’t treat it the same.”
The Korean company Booyoung is known for being generours. The company donated a total of 60,000 digital pianos in Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, East Timor, Malaysia and Bangladesh.