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Parents Urged To See Kinyarwanda As The Gateway To All Other Languages And Subjects

by Vincent Gasana
11:00 am

   The number 42 maybe the beginning of a profound change in Rwanda’s education system, and for the Kinyarwanda language.

There is probably not a society in the world, which does not fret about the loss of language, and what that might mean for the loss of culture. Rwanda is no different, in fact, what to do about the poor grasp of Kinyarwanda, among the young especially, but adults too, is an unceasing debate in Rwanda. It is a debate the Rwanda Education Board (REB) hopes to settle in the not too distant future, starting with that number, 42.

The 42 are teacher trainers, who themselves, have completed a year and half training in “evidence-based foundational literacy pedagogy.” Scientific research is clear, that children do best in their reading and writing skills, if they begin by developing a good understanding of their mother tongue.

It is this understanding that the Tunoze Gusoma, or perfect reading programme, is designed to implement. The programme is a partnership between the REB, the non profit FHI360, USAID, Save the Children and Florida State University.

Parents should communicate with their children at home, in Kinyarwanda,” says Dr Leon Mugenzi, head of teacher development and management at the REB, “many parents mistakenly believe that speaking to their children in a foreign is the best way of helping them to learn those languages. In fact, mother tongue is the best foundation for learning not only other languages, but all other subjects too.”

The REB hopes that by training teacher trainers, or as the Americans prefer to call them, teacher eduators, the programme will be sustained, as the initial 42 pass on the skills gained to others teachers.

It is easy to imagine that there is no particular expertise required in teaching of mother tongue” Mugenzi pointed out, “in fact there is a great deal of scientific research that gives us evidence-based approaches to interacting with children. And of course, language is the medium through which culture is transmitted, so that tomorrow’s Rwanda understand who they are” he added.

The teacher trainers who completed the course were awarded with a certificate of completion, with distinction, if they reached 80 percentage points or higher, after completing the course, or a certificate of participation, for those who fell short of the 80 percentage points mark. The majority of the trainees, 34, received certificates with distinction.

The conclusion of the training was celebrated appropriately, with a performance by Indangamirwa cultural dance troupe.

Even as they enjoyed the performance, the participants were no doubt aware that on their shoulders now rests the responsibility to impart and pass on global best practice, in foundational literacy instruction.

The programme includes a component of continuous professional training, and REB may wish to bring the 8, who received certificates of participation, up to the standard of the 34, who received certificates with distinction.

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