10 May 2023 Rwanda making strides in education with its focus on digital access and teacher training

Rwanda has made significant progress in improving its education system over the past few decades. After the 1994 genocide, which left many children without access to education, the government of Rwanda, in its efforts to rebuild the nation, made education a top priority. Today, Rwanda has one of the highest primary school enrolment rates in Africa, and the country is working to improve the quality of education at all levels.

[Photo: A group of youth participating in peer education led by gold-youth in a Rwandan school.]

Rwanda’s education system is home to over 3.6 million learners in more than 13,000 schools. The government has made efforts to improve the quality of education in schools by providing teacher training, increasing access to teaching materials, and expanding access to technology. For example, the One Laptop Per Child program has already distributed over 269 000 laptops in 933 primary schools and the government has also engaged in a process to provide laptops to teachers.

Challenges include funding and shortage of qualified teachers, as well as a high dropout rate, with only 71.6% of learners moving from primary to lower secondary and 85-4% moving from lower to upper secondary.  

[Photo: Three members of our Rwandan field team – these post-school youth receive a stipend from gold-youth and are critical in the roll out of gold’s peer education programme in Rwanda.]

The way the Rwandan Ministry of Education is tackling these challenges is laid out in their Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP). It seeks to align Rwanda’s national strategy with global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and plans to improve access, quality and relevance of education, providing the younger generation with the skills and competencies needed for them to become productive members of society, so that they will contribute to national economic transformation. The ESSP seeks to ensure that the poor, disadvantaged and disabled have access to meaningful education. 

gold-youth partners with the Rwandan Ministry of Education in several strategic sites in Rwanda and assists in achieving these goals of promoting access to quality of education. The peer education model with its conviction that “the message giver is the strongest message” provides an excellent means of doing so. Peer Educators are equipped by gold-youth to be role models, to provide education themselves, to recognize peers in need of help, and to uplift communities through advocacy. This model aligns with many Sustainable Development Goals, including the fourth – quality education. gold-youth is committed to finding solutions to the education challenges among Africa’s youth, including in Rwanda. 

There are major opportunities for progress. Rwanda has a young and growing population, and investing in education and skills development is key to unlocking the potential of this demographic.

[Photo: A group of gold Peer Educators holding the academic support resources they received from gold-youth.]

A part of gold-youth’s activity in Rwanda is Academic Support, which focuses on strengthening the capacity of ‘Peer Educatorsin Maths and English. About 450 Peer Educators from 15 sites in Districts of Kicukiro (Kigali City), Burera (Northern Province) and Nyagatare (Eastern Province) have the You’re gold Supplement books to improve their English literacy and proficiency (especially important as English is the medium of instruction while their first language is Kinyarwanda). A reading and literacy activity takes place weekly, where Peer Educators take turns to read in a group and discuss the topic read. To assist Peer Educators across 15 sites overcome Maths struggles, they receive Mathematics booklets known as OLICO. Peer Educators spend about 30 minutes each week doing exercises and group discussions. Participants in the Academic Support program have recorded improvements in their school performances and built their confidence and public speaking skills.

Another way gold-youth is involved in assisting Rwanda’s education goals is through digital literacy. The goal is to promote digital literacy in the mother tongue and in English among Peer Educators using simple technology devices. NABU is an app that seeks to accelerate literacy through access to mother-tongue literature, especially for younger children. gold-youth aims to pave the way for the co-creation of content for NABU books in the long term.

This promotes youth-led change. Our digital literacy campaign brings the message that there are many benefits to reading, that it is good to read to younger children as it helps them to have a better chance of success in life, and that through the NABU app more people can now experience reading. The NABU app is available worldwide and is optimized for low bandwidth environments. 

[Photos: Rwandan youth accessing the NABU app on tablets that gold-youth made available to roll out a reading and digital literacy campaign.]

gold-youth’s digital and literacy inclusion program also fits with the Rwandan government’s – led by Paul Kagame – plans to accelerate Rwanda’s growth through the construction of its own “Silicon Valley.” The idea is to build a US$420M innovation park in Kigali, with the hope that it will transform the country into a leading African tech and business hub.

Rwanda has made much progress in improving its education system over the past few decades. But there are still challenges that must be addressed. With continued investment and attention, Rwanda is aiming to build a world-class education system that prepares its young people for success in the 21st century. With its peer education model, gold-youth hopes to continue partnering with government to empower Rwandan youth to be their fullest selves and contribute to a flourishing society.