Aaron Hakizimana, a Duha student, achieves a perfect score on national exam.

In Rwanda, students take their national exams twice in an effort to enroll in a government board school. These schools are called schools of excellence, and present greater opportunities for further education as well as an increased chance for productive employment.

 

Aaron Hakizimana regularly attended the REAP led and funded Saturday School at Duha that provides enriched instruction and preparation for the national exam. As a result, he achieved an aggregate of 8 for the ninth grade exam, the highest score one can obtain. This is a remarkable achievement for a student from a poor rural background who attends a public school.

Duha school's national exam pass rate has increased from 80.1% in 2015 to 87.6% in 2016 for grade 9 as a result of REAP's academic enrichment programs.

REAP SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM CHANGING LIVES

Fidele, a recent scholarship graduate, has now become an English teacher at Duha, the school where he studied from grade one to grade nine.   After his father’s death at age 11, his mother remarried, leaving Fidele alone and improvised in a thatched roof house. With REAP’s support, Fidele regained hope, courageously pursued his studies and achieved a high school diploma.

“When I lost my father, I thought my life was at the end. I was homeless, with no food and no hope to study. When I received a REAP scholarship, my life changed completely. I finished my high school diploma at a teacher training college. I now get a monthly salary as a teacher at Duha. I have built a house for my mother and myself and I plan to go to university in a few years” said Fidele during an interview with REAP Education coordinator.

 

Duha Debate Club now challenging other school!

Started by REAP in 2014, the Duha Debate Club now counts 67 student members who are coached by 2 English teachers. 

Club coaches and student representatives came up with an idea to organize a debate competition with GS Janjagiro, another 12-year Basic Education school around 5 miles away from Duha.  The first competition took place on October 12, 2016. The debate competition proved to be an engaging and fun way to advance English skills, organize an argument, integrate knowledge across several disciplines, and boost confidence and teamwork.  As a result of this competition, Duha School now is reaching out to other schools to expand debate competitions.

Musha, Rwamagana: Roof ripped off REAP's library, and 90% of books water damaged.

Eugene, REAP employee cleans water-damaged books.

Eugene, REAP employee cleans water-damaged books.

On November 3rd, a violent storm destroyed homes and school buildings in the Musha Village where the Duha School is located. According to the Ministry for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR), over 150 homes as well as many school classrooms suffered severe damage.

 Located at a relatively higher altitude, the Duha School lost the roofs of  5 classrooms, library and  the cow shelter.  

REAP formed the library in 2012 and stocked it with more than 2,000 books over four years. In addition, REAP furnished the library with shelves, tables, rugs, and benches.  The  storm damage requires us to build a new library. Our Saturday reading program and weekly reading enrichment programs are temporarily suspended until we can raise funds to build the library.

Library roof blown off, view of the sky from inside the library

Library roof blown off, view of the sky from inside the library

Changing the paradigm of Parent meetings at Duha!

Through our Leveled Literacy Intervention, REAP has established a new way of engaging parents in their children’s learning. Children demonstrated their reading skills in front of their parents. Parents were amazed at the children’s capacity to read and write English that far exceeded their expectations. Parents shared their dreams of their children’s future where their children now could go on to achieve further education. 

REAP embarks on Leveled Literacy Intervention program in the Duha School!

This past summer, REAP started a Leveled Literacy Intervention(LLI) program at the Duha school  designed to give early readers a foundation for their academic and social emotional success. The Fountas & Pinnell LLI program is a powerful intervention that provides daily, intensive, small-group instruction, which supplements classroom literacy teaching with engaging leveled books.  This program integrates the essential skills of decoding, comprehension and writing. In addition to literacy, our programing ensures that all participating students  receive lunch, as well practice English language speaking and listening through our multi media programming. All parents are visited by a REAP staff member on a monthly basis to affirm that each child is fully known and to enlist each parent in the simultaneous development of their literacy along with their child. 

One pig per girl project!!! Better lives of girls at the Duha School!

 

 

Last year, REAP started a Girls guide project at the Duha School in Rwanda to promote girls’ leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Thirty-seven motivated girls chose to participate in this innovative project. Each pig can raise around $200 per year for each girl. Girls use this money to buy school supplies, sanitary supplies, shoes, clothes and food for their impoverished families.

BOOSTING EARLY LITERACY AT THE DUHA SCHOOL

Last summer, Danielle Lower, a REAP volunteer, and a graduate of Rollins College,

visited Duha School. Realizing that grade one is the largest grade at the school with

715 students with a third of students struggling with reading and writing in

Kinyarwanda (mother tongue), she initiated a holiday school program to improve

literacy in grade one.

The program aims at providing extra Kinyarwanda literacy lessons when the school

is on vacation. Research shows that strong literacy in mother tongue is a base for

literacy in learning English, the language of instruction in grade 4.

Grade 1 teachers recommend students for the program basing on their performance

in Kinyarwanda. Students then take a proficiency test and are placed in 3 levels

(very low, low and middle). Teachers provide remedial instruction for two weeks

while the school is on vacation.

Last year, 44 of 70 students in “low” moved to “middle” while 46 of 52 moved from

“very low” to “low”. The success of the program has increased the number of

participants to 106 during this holiday period.

REAP celebrates US ambassador’s visit to the Duha School!

Erica J. Barks Ruggles, the United States ambassador to Rwanda (Middle), MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWS (BLUE SHIRTS), MUSHA SECTOR EXECUTIVE SECRETARY (WHITE SHIRT) AND DUHA SCHOOL HEADMASTER (GRAY SHIRT).

Erica J. Barks Ruggles, the United States ambassador to Rwanda (Middle), MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWS (BLUE SHIRTS), MUSHA SECTOR EXECUTIVE SECRETARY (WHITE SHIRT) AND DUHA SCHOOL HEADMASTER (GRAY SHIRT).

Last Saturday, a group of US embassy employees led by the United States ambassador to Rwanda, Erica J. Barks Ruggles, participated in the monthly Community Service at the Duha School. The purpose of the community service was to celebrate the accomplishments of the girls’ programming achieved at Duha through REAP’s efforts.  Jean Paulin Mutatsineza, the REAP Project Manager and a Mandela Washington  Fellow, helped the Duha school receive this grant from the State Department to further enhance our ongoing commitment to girls’ health and leadership The Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) is the flagship program of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and embodies President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa.

US EMBASSY EMPLOYEES CUT LAWN

US EMBASSY EMPLOYEES CUT LAWN

 

As a result of the grant, Duha School is now provided with a fully functional rainwater harvesting system. Water is now piped to the girls’ room to improve hygiene, along with sanitary kits to over 300 girls at Duha. As the most highly recognized Girls’ Room in the Rwamagana District, Duha continues to be the leader in ensuring that the girls stay in school, and become engaged learners.

Addressing the community, the ambassador strongly underscored the importance of girls staying in school. “Whenever a girl stays in school, her family’s income goes up by 15-20%.....Girls staying in school is a benefit for the whole community and country. We are very proud as the US embassy to be partnering with the District, with the headmaster in the Duha school and with our YALI fellows… the ambassador stated. After her speech, the ambassador gave sanitary pads to parents and students.

 

THE AMBASSADOR CONGRATULATED MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWS

THE AMBASSADOR CONGRATULATED MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWS

THE AMBASSADOR GIVES PADS TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS

THE AMBASSADOR GIVES PADS TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS

REAP joins Musha community to commemorate 1994 Tutsi Genocide

Every year from April 7 to 13, Rwanda and the world commemorate Rwanda’s 1994 Tutsi Genocide that took more than 1,000,000 lives.

This year, REAP trained 25 Grade 5 students who sang Iain Stewart’s Window of hope, a song that inspires hope and peace as we rebuild our country from the aftermath of the 1994 tragedy. Please click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Around 300 people including community members and local government officials gathered at Akabare Community Center where they learned about Rwanda’s history and how to fight Genocide ideology. The day ended by the screening of the video of the Duha kids singing Window of Peace along with Iain Stewart. The community was very proud to see their kids singing in English and delivering a powerful healing message. The local government commended REAP’s contribution to the country’s vision to rebuild itself and sustain peace and reconciliation. 

 

 

 

REAP expands girls’ programming and partnerships thanks to Young African Leaders Initiative ( YALI) grants!

 

After REAP’s project manager, Jean Paulin Mutatsineza, participated in President Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship, the Rwandan cohort  of YALIscholars won 2 grants from USAID through the US embassy in Kigali.

The first grant of $ 18,000 is dedicated for Menstrual Hygiene and Education targeted four schools in Rwanda, including the Duha School. The other grant of $6,000 focuses on Entrepreneurship training, Mentoring, Network and Community service for youths.

 

As a result of these grants, REAP will:

1.     At Duha:

a.     Provide a fully functional rainwater harvesting system (water tank, gutters, taps, etc.) for the girls’ room to improve water and sanitation conditions for the girls.

b.     300 pad packets to girls using the girls’ room

c.      300 menstrual education flyers to girls using the girls’ room

d.     300 school bags to girls using the girls’ room

The US embassy in Kigali is planning to visit Duha next month and inaugurate the project upon completion

 

2.     At Groupe Scolaire Rubona, REAP in partnership with YALI Rwanda and Agahozo Shalom youth village will:

a.     Conduct youth’s sanitation community projects at the school (build pit toilets, repair water pipes, etc.). This will be done by youths from Duha School, Agahozo Shalom and Rubona community.

b.     Provide educational sessions on girls’ issues (education, menstruation, dropout, etc.) and prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections.

This project paves the way for a collaboration between REAP and Agahozo Shalom as well as expanding REAP’s scope of impact to other schools in the region.

Duha Early Childhood Development center on the move!

 

Duha ECD center is making progressive strides towards becoming a model ECD 

Center for Rwamagana District.  In our effort to promote the quality of learning, the 

class size has been reduced from 48 to 28 students in each classroom, which now 

allows teachers to address students’ individual learning needs. 

 

Elisaphane, REAP’s Early Childhood Educator, planned and coordinated the 

introduction of learning corners: Book corner, Numeracy corner, Language and 

Literacy, Arts and Crafts, Role play, Dress up corner and Construction corner. He 

also regularly trains teachers on how to better deliver the new competence-based 

curriculum

Students are no longer tied to direct teaching for many hours.  Instead, they are 

now learning experientially through learning corners that develop thinking skills, 

psychomotor skills, language and literacy skills, and social skills. This improved 

learning environment keeps students engaged, concentrated, and focused. 

Duha is now exploring partnerships with the current with the Rwamagana District 

model ECD center, Teach Rwanda ECDs and other ECDs in the region to share 

practices, learn from one another and accelerate progress.

National exam results soar, more opportunities for Duha Students!

Duha Duha Complex School is a 12-year basic education school where education is free. To this type of school go students who do not pass either Grade 6 or Grade 9 national exam.

When students pass the national exams, they go to boarding schools or "schools of excellence" where education is much better and with more opportunities to further education and/or get jobs. 

This year the Duha school, as a result of a range of REAP's efforts, including Saturday school, library, reading and English programs, multimedia, computer training, and the art club, we have recorded a 7% increase in the national exam pass rate with 20 more scholarships to boarding schools than last year. The national exam pass rate has increased from 77% in 2014 to 84% in 2015 and the number of scholarships to boarding schools from 44 in 2014 to 64 in 2015.

REAP selected to participate in Rwanda’s 2015 Joint Education Sector Review!

 

On November 12, 2015, the Government of Rwanda and its partners, including REAP, sat down for a annual review meeting to assess progress in improving the quality of education in Rwanda and set priorities for next year.

 

Various stakeholders and partners in education attended the meeting namely: The Minister of education, Permanent Secretary in the ministry of education, Director General of Rwanda Education Board, Workforce Development agency, UNICEF, to name but a few.

Educational Non-Governmental Organizations have their collective voice in the RENCP (Rwanda Education NGOs Coordination Platform) and only 15 of them were selected to represent the rest in the Joint Sector Review. REAP was one of the 15 selected!

 

Key issues raised:

·      The Education (%) share of the national budget continues to decrease and is well below the 20% recommended by the Global Partnership in Education (GPE).

·      The recent statistics showing growing drop out and repetition rates at primary and falling transition rates to lower secondary emphasis the need to ensure that funding to pre-primary and primary education is critical.

·      The Learning Achievement in Rwandan Schools assessment was conducted and completed and results will be shared and analysis of these results will be used to inform planning.

·      The need for in-service Continuous Professional Development days are going to be critical for the success of the new Competency Based Curriculum, English language improvement and skill development of teachers to ensure quality.

·      With implementation of the Competency Based Curriculum in January/February 2016 there are concerns about the supervision, smooth transition, single shift of instruction versus required competencies, management, monitoring, evaluation and accountability of the new curriculum.


Education Top Priorities for 2016-2017:


       Increasing Access and participation in the following areas

-       Pre-primary education

-       Retention in primary

-       Technical and Vocational Education and Training

       Improving quality education (implementation of new curriculum through teacher training for pre-primary, primary and secondary, teaching and learning materials, training of trainers in Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and awareness campaign on Rwanda National Qualifications Framework (RNQF);

       Establish a National Educational Assessment and rehabilitation Centre for Special Needs Education at University of Rwanda- College of Education;

       Infrastructure development and equipment (From pre-primary to secondary schools, UR campuses);

       Implement Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Master Plan in Education and promote sciences and Maths education at all levels including Research Institutions and Centres of Excellence (ICT infrastructure development, provision of devices, construct and equip labs’ development of digital content).

Alice Niyigena from Duha crowned Best Player of the 2015 National Handball Championship!

Alice holding her certificate

Alice holding her certificate

 

Alice, 17, is in grade 10 at the Duha School. She is majoring in English, Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili. She comes from a poor family of 5 in rural Musha, Eastern Rwanda.

 She joined the Duha School Girls Handball team last year and worked hard and passionately.

 

“Looking where I come from and the conditions I live in, I feel very excited and honored to be selected as the 2015 handball best young player.

Apart from exercising my muscles, getting stronger and healthier, playing handball on the school team makes me feel more confident as a young woman. I also realized that my talent is an opportunity for growth since I will soon play the East African Handball Championship and get a scholarship to a school-of-excellence.” Said Alice during an interview with REAP Education Coordinator.

 

Alice wants to keep working hard towards her goal to play on the national handball team when she is of the required age. Her team still lacks supplies and their playing field is uneven and rocky, which poses a challenge to developing her skills. However, Alice’s resilient character sees this obstacle as an incentive to work even harder, “I want to be a role model for other young women.”

 

 

 

Duha girls’ handball team wins second place of the 2015 national handball championship!

Duha handball team with reap executive director, ed ballen

Duha handball team with reap executive director, ed ballen

The 2015 national handball championship brought together the 8 best teams across the county to vie for the title of the best handball team in Rwanda

Duha handball team with  coach, aphrodice sindayigaya

Duha handball team with  coach, aphrodice sindayigaya


After winning the Eastern District championship, the Duha team was selected as one the 8 teams to compete in the championship.  Competing again independent schools with greater resources, the girls battled to reach the finals, and placed the second in the entire country.


This was a tremendous achievement for Duha girls.  As the only rural public high school among this elite eight, the Duha girls’ spirit, passion and perseverance carried them past the better-equipped teams.

Additionally, Niyigena Alice from Duha was crowned the 2015 the tournament’s best player.

As a result of their achievement, Duha players will be offered handball scholarships to schools of excellence. Already, over 40 students from past teams have been admitted to schools of excellence. Eight Duha players are currently on the national team. The Duha team will be playing in the inaugural launching of East African handball league, which will be taking place in Rwanda this December.


All the best to our skilled and powerful young ladies! You can, indeed!! 

REAP Mural Project completed!

With the help of a grant from the Africa International Club, REAP was able to launch the Duha School Mural Project. Jointly designed by students and community artists, the mural includes themes of leadership, learning and equity.

In the process of creating this masterpiece, children teamed with community members to purchase materials and worked with teachers to help plan its message. The students were excited to apply their growing knowledge of the English language as the mural's overall theme took shape. It is our hope this mural will engender pride in our students, for both the Duha Complex School and themselves.

JEAN PAULIN MUTATSINEZA, REAP PROJECT MANAGER SELECTED AS A 2015 MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOW!

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The Fellowship brings 500 dynamic young African leaders, ages 25-35, from across the continent to the United States for 6 weeks of leadership training and mentoring at twenty U.S. universities and colleges in 3 fields: business and entrepreneurship, civic engagement and public administration.

 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is conducted as a merit-based open competition. Selection is based on criteria like:

  • Proven record of leadership and accomplishment in public service, business and entrepreneurship, or civic engagement

  • Demonstrated commitment to public or community service, volunteerism or mentorship

  • Ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and respect the opinions of others

  • Demonstrated knowledge, interest and professional experience in the field selection

  • Commitment to return to Africa and apply leadership skills and training to benefit their home country

In Rwanda this year, nearly 800 young people applied; only 6 were selected to participate in the fellowship.

“I can’t thank REAP enough for all the professional experience and career guidance they provided me that has greatly contributed to this success. I want to learn more public management skills from world-class experts so I can advocate for REAP’s initiatives and promote its impact on a macro-level”, said Paulin Mutatsineza.

Jean Paulin will attend University of Minnesota in Minneapolis starting on June 19 where he will be trained in Public management. Great work Paulin and enjoy your summer in America!


REAP's Spring Gala an unprecedented success!

On Saturday, May 2nd, REAP, along with the help of supporters and volunteers, put on the Annual REAP Charity Gala at Harvey School in Katonah. As attendees ate and drank into the night, we were able to regale with stories of the children REAP helps in Rwanda and the better future we envision for all of us. In addition to our program, guests also got to bid on a collection of exciting auction items including, dinner for 2 with famed author and New Yorker journalist Philip Gourevitch and a warm vacation condo in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, just to name a few! Stomachs full, and loot secured, attendees were fortunate enough to wind down the evening with an enchanting musical performance from Lisa Lipkin and Jay Hitt.

Every year, we are incredibly excited to let you into our world at Duha. The obstacles are many and the needs are great, and yet attendees were introduced to two students, who with REAP’s help, are facing the challenges head on. Both Fidele and Solange have fallen victim to the regrettable trend of high school dropout in Rwanda and yet both, through REAP’s efforts, have returned to school to continue their pursuits and ultimately have found a family in the community at Duha. Both exemplify the hope and opportunity that stem from a quality education. Fortunately, REAP’s school-wide campaign to prevent dropouts is having a substantial effect on the entire student body at Duha. Please check out the stories of Fidele and Solange below!

Much like Duha, REAP has a family of advocates and supporters here in the United States that show up in numbers every year for our events. Our work is impossible without the unmitigated effort and devotion you all share for the cause. To those that donated their time or money, we thank you for the unprecedented success that was this spring’s gala! Enjoy our slideshow below from this year's celebration!



Blackboards are allowing primary students to thrive

This past July, REAP staff and volunteers traveled to Rwanda, like they do every summer. Packed in the bottom of their suitcases were mini-blackboards to be given to the students at Duha. While a very modest offering on the surface, these boards had the potential to transform the learning dynamic of classrooms without materials, like pencils and paper. They have done just that, and have also enabled kids to learn at their own pace in a peer-to-peer setting.

The mini-blackboards have been put to use by primary students as they learn to write in English.  In small groups, the kids use the boards in conjunction with multimedia materials to summarize stories, identify new vocabulary and create sentences of their own. These group exercises have increased students’ English proficiency markedly. Since English is the language of instruction in Rwanda, the exercises have ultimately improved students' success in other subjects as well.

REAP seeks to make use of small contributions and maximize their impact with simple but enduring solutions. Thank you to our supporters Heide Wrigley and Lianne Blodgett for making the mini-blackboards a reality for the students at Duha!