1. Strengthening Community Involvement
As part of our effort to engage the community, we initiated a school social work program, based on training a local community leader, to become a paraprofessional social worker. Each parent, whose child is in our early literacy intervention program, receives a monthly visit from the school social worker. These visits start with an assessment of the family's strengths, a social history, and an understanding of the ways literacy is already a part of the family's life. By going to the family's home, we ensure parental recognition, and demonstrate their importance in their child's learning. Additionally, we are collecting from parents indigenous folktales and non-fiction stories. Once recorded, these stories will be transcribed in both Kindayranda and English. These stories will promote adult literacy, encourage connection between parent and child, and highlight the social emotional skills that emerge through the use of literature.
2. Advancing Quality of Learning...
At REAP, we are committed to a student-centered approach that engages children in hands-on learning and that encourages critical thinking, social emotional competencies, and the dynamic connections between different subject areas.
Our Library Project provides the physical space and the resources to help expand children's minds by improving English and reading skills. So far, REAP has amassed a collection of over 1,000 volumes, organized by subject and title, and overseen by a salaried librarian. Duha's library is also a vital catalyst for a number of other programs that affect students and the community alike, such as:
- Saturday Reading Tutorials, complete with competitions and prizes
- Saturday Coaching Program, classroom instruction to prepare students in grades 6 and 9 for the national exam
- Teatime Program, which provides much needed refreshments to teachers
- Personalized reading and writing lessons
- Teacher training
- Identification and implementation of promising practices
- Investment in school facilities and learning resources
- Ongoing student scholarships
- Integrating technology in teaching and learning
3. Growing Alternative Learning Opportunities...
At Duha, there are challenges that impact the quality of instruction. First and foremost is the lack of English proficiency among teachers and students. Since Rwanda has recently transitioned to English-language instruction, REAP provides additional classes and resources to enrich language learning for teachers and students.
Our Multimedia Program seeks to open new avenues of learning by providing audio, visual and kinesthetic learning tools for teachers to include in their lesson plans. This type of multidisciplinary learning, through song and video, makes an impression upon students, as they are much more likely to understand the principles of what they are learning instead of just rote memorization. Our approach helps teachers add to their knowledge of the English language and learn along with their students as they lead a lesson. This method also reduces students' dependency on their teachers, allowing them to learn at their own pace.
REAP's contributions include:
- Computer Lab, complete with 33 laptops
- Projector, sound system and screen for multimedia programming
- LibraryBox Server Program, which gives children and teachers access to all kinds of encyclopedia articles and learning anthologies
- Technological instruction for teachers and administrators
- Trainings by expert multimedia consultants, to give teachers the skills they need to enliven lesson plans
- REAP-funded Scholarships, to help at risk students find vocational training and internship opportunities
- Fill gaps in learning via non-teacher driven programs
- Construction of library facility, donation of fully cataloged collection of books and publications
- Improvement of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills by providing student access to fully functional laptops
- Supporting visual, audio, and kinesthetic learning through multimedia
4. Removing Obstacles to Participation...
Our fundamental goal is to educate the students who pass through the gates at Duha. How can learning take place if a child can't concentrate due to malnutrition? How effective would our literacy programs be if there wasn't a clean desk to write on? Or pencils and paper to write with? Or a roof to shield students from inclement weather? All too often, educational operations fail to take into account the many barriers that prevent children from realizing their potential. REAP's holistic approach means providing not just an education, but also the physical components that sustain it.
Our Dairy Farm Project allows us to provide daily milk to the nursery children, providing the necessary nutrition that some students fail to get at home. With a farm of 6 cows, we have reduced malnutrition and strengthened cognitive ability among the youngest students at Duha. We look to expand upon this success by creating a parallel program for the primary students.
REAP also contributes to:
- Supporting the Rwandan government's Secondary School Feeding Program with the construction of a new, sanitary kitchen
- Constructing new classrooms and new toilets
- Bringing electricity and fresh water to Duha
- Nutrition programs for nursery aged children, feeding programs for primary and secondary ages
- Health and wellness programs for teenage girls
- Sexual education
- Leadership initiatives for secondary students
5. Building Engagement...
Intrinsic to a high quality education is the involvement of not only parents but also the surrounding community. The most effective learning requires the active participation of parents, as well as teachers. As parents become involved in their child's education, they realize the value of education, resulting in lower dropout rates and increased daily attendance. As such, REAP affirms the necessity of involving every major stakeholder in a child's educational development.
In order to help give parents and the community a stake in the learning that takes place at Duha, REAP collaborated with the parents and faculty in the design of the REAP Central Hall. Located centrally in the Duha compound and unique to the region, the community center acts as the hub of the school, and a point of pride among not only the students and faculty but also the parents. It is a vital resource for students, who meet for multimedia sessions inside, and also operates as a space for parents and teachers to interact on a community level. As a bonus, the Central Hall functions as a revenue source, as it is rented out for weddings and special occasions.
Other REAP community involvement efforts include:
- A partnership with Sustainable Health Enterprises, to help educate girls in reproductive health
- Vocation and homemaking demonstrations to involve parents at Duha
- Establish connections with teachers and the surrounding community to instruct elders and local leaders about the importance of education for their children and for themselves
- Build relationships with parents to emphasize the importance of supplemental learning in the home environment
- Promote female equity and empowerment
- Increase opportunities for mentoring and vocational training for secondary students
- To forming and supporting student clubs, such as
- Art Club
- English and Debate Club
- Garden Club
- Dancing and Drumming Troupe
- Girl Guides
6. Transforming School Leadership...
Fundamental to the provision of education and opportunity is the creation of leaders, both at the student and administrative level. Leadership is essential to a well-run school, from high-quality instructional strategy to a positive school climate and a well-ordered environment.
REAP has developed a pioneering Pilot Leadership Program with Apagie Public School in Musha. Rooted in student data and performance based criteria, the program looks to develop a systemic model of distributing leadership by creating department heads to oversee quality instruction and accountability.
One of our main priorities at REAP is to develop girls leadership and empower them to become equal participants in a new Rwanda. TUSUME Club is a national program that REAP brought to Duha, which promotes leadership by creating plays and artwork and increasing community engagement with girls' issues. Last year, the club promoted a soccer match between faculty and students to help lead a community-wide attendance campaign, where they also had a chance to showcase their performance art.
Finally, our Girl's Room Program provides a safe space for menstruating girls to wash up, rest, and restore themselves before returning to class. Along with medicine, we also provide free underwear and pads to any girl in need. Before REAP's intervention, teenage girls would miss considerable time at school, and absences would quickly turn into dropouts. REAP's simple intervention has dramatically decreased dropouts and added renewed confidence to the female student body at Duha.
Analyze student data to develop more effective instruction
- Analyze student data to develop more effective instruction
- Train instructional leaders to have a larger impact across the school
- Encourage a safe community where social and academic learning thrive
- Support professional development through the sharing of promising practices among partner schools and organizations
- Manage leadership teams to ensure quality functioning on a systemic level