The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has given Building Learning Foundations (BLF) a rating of A+ in its 2023 review. It is the second time BLF has achieved this excellent rating since starting in 2017.
Operating in Rwanda as the main technical assistance element of ‘Learning for All’, the objective of BLF is to improve learning in lower and upper primary education in English and Mathematics, with a special focus on children with special educational needs and girls.
Improving teacher and school leader competencies
The FCDO annual review states,
“The overall score in this review is A+, which reflects that despite significant and unexpected budget reductions, BLF has been able to maintain results and the integrity of the BLF model whilst continuing to drive wider impacts in the education sector. At the output level, the programme has exceeded the target number of teachers, school leaders and key education stakeholders reached at both district and central levels through a range of capacity building initiatives. This has translated into improved teacher and school leader competencies”.
Embedding practices to sustain improvement
The reviewers indicate that BLF is taking effective steps toward sustainability. At the district level, buy-in from school and sector leaders has been considerable and BLF reforms at the system level are being embedded.
“BLF structures, such as headteachers’ Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and teachers’ Communities of Practice (COPs), have become embedded in school life and their continuation looks secure” – FCDO annual review
Supporting a ‘test-learn-adapt’ approach
FCDO reviewers also considered the development of two pilots to further support a test-learn-adapt approach. A Maths Pilot was established in 30 schools to support the challenges of teaching maths in English. The pilot is showing early signs of positive impact as it combines BLF models of COPs and essential classroom materials with some aspects of Content Language Integrated Learning.
Reaching more vulnerable girls
The Girls Club Pilot continued to reach the most vulnerable girls and boys in 42 schools. Under this period of review, supplementary materials were created to bridge the gap between the classroom and home, and to cover specific topics in greater detail, with more work to link girls’ clubs to BLF’s wider approach to gender-responsive education.
BLF has influenced other aspects of government policy reforms to the education structure, including Special Needs Education Coordinators alongside the approach of Inclusive Education Focal teachers. Development partners (VVOB, USAID, VSO) have adopted core BLF methodology (particularly COPs) into their programmes, citing BLF as an influencing factor.
Education Development Trust has a long history of working in Rwanda. Our teams worked with the ministry of education in a post-genocide Rwanda in 2001 to design the education sector strategic plan, the framework of which is still in use today. Our five-year programme, Building Learning Foundations, is about getting the foundations in place to positively effect the rest of Rwanda's education system.
Our Building Learning Foundations (BLF) team in Rwanda hosted events in ten schools to celebrate International Day for Women in Mathematics which is celebrated every 12th of May. This year the event was hosted under the theme: ‘Breaking the gap in mathematical sciences’ and was held in our ten partner schools that have Girls’ Clubs, a new girls’ education component of the BLF programme.