REAP is Unique...
in that we function entirely within the existing public school system, specifically at the Duha Complex School. Hand-in-hand with the community, we are developing school-wide interventions that dramatically improve education and future opportunities for the community's children.
Our Interventions Are Structured Around 5 Main Objectives...
1. Advance 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 and 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 1000 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 8 for the national exam
- Teatime Program, which provides much needed refreshments to teachers
- Personalized reading and writing lessons
2. Grow 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
3. Remove 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 intervenes in areas such as:
- 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
4. Build 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 Community Learning Center. 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, but also operates as a space for parents and teachers to interact on a community level. As a bonus, the center 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
5. Transform 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 Green Hills Academy in Kigali and Apogee 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. Recently, 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.
REAP is also active in the United States...
Global Citizenship Partnership between US schools and Rwandan schools
"A Learn and Serve Model"
The learning and service component of REAP enables American elementary and high school students to connect with the Duha students. This model provides students in American and in Rwanda to make the connection between learning and serving. The learn and serve model motivates students to master and understand their academic experiences as they perceive how these lessons can apply to their life experiences. Many of the partner schools in the U.S. have made a sustained effort to maintain their involvement over the course of several years. The following projects reflect the learning and service model.
- Hackley Lower School students conducted a 'read-a-thon' to promote and celebrate a love of reading in order to raise money for new books, as well as support the Saturday Reading Program. Students, under the leadership of the art teacher, and kindergarten teacher, made and sold ceramic bowls in a project called, "Bowling for Rwanda"
- Windward Lower School students raised money through "Jumping Jacks for REAP" to purchase quality feed for the dairy farm, maintain the health of two calves, support the purchase of culturally relevant books and purchase necessary school supplies. Windward students also organized a competition to name our most highly prized cow. They settled on Oreo.
- White Plains High School Human Rights students raised money for a sustainable farming project in Rwanda called "Mango for Hope Project"
- White Plains High School Human Rights students, through the "Moo Project" raised money to purchase cows for the Duha Complex School
- Master's School is creating a game project with their freshman class. These students are developing a series of games with instructions, which they will share with the Duha students. Duha students will then reciprocate by sharing Rwandan games with the Master's students.
- White Plains High School ESL students are writing letters to the Duha students who participate in the Saturday School Program
- John Jay students are working on raising money for a basketball court to be built at the Duha School
- REAP is collaborating with the Facing History High School in New York City to develop a learning project with Duha students to foster critical thinking skills and global citizenship
- Ed Ballen and Susan Altman presented to social studies teachers at the Westchester Holocaust Student Conference. This was an opportunity for these teachers to learn about REAP and to encourage them to consider a 'learn and serve' component for their classes