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Article 18/09/2023

Andrew Mitchell, UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, applauds BLF’s impact on Rwanda’s education sector at Girls’ Education Symposium

We were delighted to welcome the UK's Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, to the Second National Symposium on Girls' Education, organised by our Building Learning Foundations (BLF) programme in Rwanda on 31st August 2023.

The symposium forms a pivotal component of BLF’s wider Girls’ Education Strategy, which also includes a pilot programme of girls’ clubs that was carried out in 42 schools across the country. As part of the pilot, gender focal teachers were selected and trained to deliver life skills content and facilitate discussions among girls on topics relating to safety, sexual and reproductive health and rights, educational aspirations and confidence-building.

This symposium, the second of its kind in Kigali, brought together policymakers and development partners to discuss how to address barriers that prevent girls from learning and achieving. The endline evaluation findings from the BLF programme were shared at the event, demonstrating that there has been improvement in girls’ grade proficiency in English proficiency and mathematics. These findings also showed that 94% of girls believed that boys and girls are equally skilled in STEM subjects, while girls’ confidence in achieving educational goals was similar to that of boys, at 76.9% and 75.8%, respectively.

The symposium also shared best practice from Kenya on "Investing in girls’ education: five lessons from the evidence", based on EDT’s work on the Girls’ Education Challenge in Kenya. Rosa Muraya, EDT Country Lead for Kenya, explained that there may be lessons from the Kenyan experience which could be relevant to Rwanda. She explained that these lessons include: “Having a holistic approach, reducing cost of education to increase enrolment and participation, investing in strong family and community to support girls, early transforming of gender norms and perspectives, and investing in teachers as agents of change at school level to implement practical gender pedagogy.”

Charles Karakye, Permanent Secretary of the Rwandan Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) said the Ministry has put in place several policies to eliminate all forms of gender inequality in education, including working with partners, which has positively impacted on gender equality. Karakye appreciated the contribution of the BLF programme, which he said has resulted in positive changes in the behaviour, mindset and determination of the girls reached, increased learning about their sexual reproductive health and rights, and a more positive attitude towards STEM subjects for female students.

“We hope that this symposium will tap into the already existing resources to make recommendations that will support our girls to learn and achieve in school,” Karakye said.

Several of the girls who participated in the pilot were present at the event, engaging UK Minister Andrew Mitchell and the Rwanda’s Minister of State for Education, Claudette Irere, in a question and answer session.

In his remarks, Mr Mitchell said, “Our international Women and Girls Strategy prioritises gender equality, focusing on education, empowering women's family planning choices, and combating violence against women. We champion these areas to ensure rights, freedom, and potential for all women and girls. I am heartened to see that Rwanda is making progress on advancing the acquisition of these foundational skills for all children. The endline results from the BLF programme show significant improvements in the English and Maths learning outcomes of pupils in early primary in Rwanda over the last six years.”

We were delighted to see this recognition of the hard work of the BLF team over the course of the programme.

The event coincided with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the UK Government and UNICEF to implement a part of the new FCDO-funded programme that will succeed the BLF programme in Rwanda in the next five years. We are excited to see what the future may hold for girls’ education in Rwanda.

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