Education Initiatives at MVP Mayange, Rwanda
Written with John Mugabo, MVP Rwanda Education Coordinator
The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) at Mayange, Rwanda supports five primary schools and 89 teachers. This project supports students at Mayange A, Mayange B, Kamabuye, Mbyo and Muyenzi Primary Schools from level Primary One (first grade) to Primary Six (sixth grade) while also providing partner-supported supplementary services to enhance student learning opportunities and achieve quality education.
I visited Mayange A Primary School in Mayange, Rwanda in June 2013 where John Mugabo is the MVP Education Coordinator. At Mayange A, one sees the enormous efforts dedicated over the last seven years to providing improved access to schooling and a quality educational setting for the primary school students, which currently total 5,750 enrolled. Messages of encouragement and support are posted on signs within the school’s vast compound and the external walls are decorated with painted maps and other educational visuals. In addition to standard curriculum and lessons, the school provides a vast array of educational support.
Mayange A Primary School houses a kitchen and school garden used for meals, which is supported by partner Table for Two for the pre-school feeding program. Overall, this MVP project initiated pre-school education to improve on age appropriate enrollment and quality of education at the primary level. MVP supported the community by constructing pre-school centers and providing porridge and eggs to 625 children at the pre-school level.
At Mayange A, a well-supplied library with a trained librarian and numerous books for various levels exists for both the school students and residents of Mayange. Tools for Schools, one of the school’s partners, provided the books and training for the librarian. The library was established to encourage a culture of reading and for students and teachers to do research and acquire reference materials.At the other four primary schools, libraries have been started.
All five primary schools in Mayange were connected to grid electricity which facilitated the establishment of computer labs. Each school now has at least ten computers each in their lab. With support from partner, Connect to Learn, two selected schools, one of which was Mayange A, were provided with an additional 55 laptops and internet connection. Students actively use the computers and receive training on the software.
Girls in Mayange face more challenges than the boys. The project initiated the girls’ house/room where the girls can privately discuss personal issues concerning hygiene and sanitation, physical growth, sexual and reproductive health, amongst other issues. The girls’ house has a modern latrine and resting room and is nearly constructed. It will provide a place for girls to access as needed.
A group of Community Education Workers (CEWs) has been created whose key role is to conduct outreach campaigns in the community, follow-up on students not attending class and reasons why, and to collect monthly data at the household level. CEWs also carry out sensitization and mobilization of the parents and the entire community to enroll their children in schools. CEWs are a new concept that was initiated by the Project to ensure full access to education for all school-going-age children. There are 40 CEWs currently.
The education project at MVP Mayange hired experienced teachers from the best schools in Rwanda to support candidate students who are preparing for their national examination. These teachers, who are also examiners, teach close to 500 students at all primary schools in Mayange as part of a suite of supplementary lessons to help improve the capacity of students to pass their examination. Transition from primary school to secondary school is heavily emphasized and supported by the education team at Mayange primary schools. However, a number of students, especially girls, have dropped out of secondary schoolThrough the Connect To Learn Scholarship Program, MVP Mayange initiated a sponsorship program for vulnerable students, especially girls, at the secondary level through payment of their tuition and provision of school materials. There were boys included previously in the program, though currently, there are 44 female secondary school students benefitting from this program.
These key education initiatives at MVP Mayange provide a wide-ranging integrated approach to supporting predominantly primary school students in order to achieve completion of level primary six
(sixth grade)and transition into secondary school. Students receive an array of services from dedicated education professionals and volunteers while learning in a supportive academic environment. It was great to meet John Mugabo and to see the fruition of many efforts at Mayange A Primary School.