In the face of Covid-19, school closures and lockdowns are affecting children all over the world. At Education Development Trust, we are working hard to support governments and school system leaders to help mitigate the effect of the Covid-19, not only through our research and consultancy services, but also through our existing programmes. In Rwanda, our Building Learning Foundations programme has rapidly adapted to help support pupils in this unusual time.
Following the announcements of school closures on 14th March, the government of Rwanda began a home learning initiative to support children learning remotely during the period of lockdown, and the Rwanda Education Board called on all partners in the education sector to support the initiative, with a view to minimising the impact of lockdown on the education system.
Dr Irénée Ndayambaje, Director General of Rwanda Education Board, explained: “This lockdown should not impede smooth teaching and learning. That is why, more than ever, we call on all partners in the basic education sub-sector to come together and lend their expertise and resources to ensure students’ path to a prosperous future is not interrupted.”
In response, Building Learning Foundations has used its knowledge and expertise to develop scripts for radio broadcast lessons, which are currently reaching over 2.6 million learners.
Radio is the most popular and accessible source of information in Rwanda, used by over 98% of the population. It is an especially helpful means of getting information to remote and rural areas, where radio lessons have been particularly helpful during the Covid-19 crisis to date. In these areas, few households have reliable internet access or devices such as laptops, meaning that high-tech learning solutions are inaccessible to many children. Radio broadcasts of lessons offer a much more inclusive and accessible model, which does not serve to widen educational inequalities, but helps to build up these fundamental skills for all children.
To achieve this, the Building Learning Foundations team has used its expert content developers to produce thirty scripts for English and maths lessons for primary-aged pupils, specifically those in Primary 1 to Primary 3 grades. In collaboration with UNICEF and the Rwanda Education Board, the programme is now able to air these lessons, which are aligned with the national curriculum, on five radio stations every week. Each lesson is approximately 20 minutes long and focuses on interactive learning. The lessons are designed in such a way that students can participate on their own, but their parents or caregivers can listen in and support learning at home.
“I usually follow the radio every morning and learn together with my children,” says Charlotte, a mother of three in the Kicukiro District. “If it a maths lesson, I ensure I help get counting materials, and for English, I help them repeat after the teacher. Radio learning has been very important during this lockdown and has kept the children busy with homework.”