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Getting children ready to start school in Rwanda

VSO/Massa

VSO is changing the future of education in Rwanda through helping prepare children for school, training teachers and classroom refurbishment.

Habumugisha Daniel with VSO staff member Claude Kamba. Daniel attends an early childhood education class in Rwamatamu, based in one of the poorest districts in Rwanda. VSO/Mussa Uwitonze

Habumugisha Daniel with VSO staff member Claude Kamba. Daniel attends an early childhood education class in Rwamatamu, based in one of the poorest districts in Rwanda.

VSO’s Strengthening School Readiness in Rwanda (SSRR) project, funded by the Dubai Cares foundation, is helping 2,500 children aged 3-6 prepare for school.

The project, based in Nyamasheke, one of Rwanda’s poorest districts, is providing teacher training, parent engagement, classroom refurbishment and advice on how to build educational resources with local materials.

The training advises teachers on how to integrate children with special education needs into mainstream education. Teachers are encouraged to engage children through interactive classes.

“All our classes are activity-based, such as playing doctors and patients, playing bankers and customers, making them build small houses,” said Papa Diouf, country director of VSO Rwanda.

“We also use locally available materials to build educational tools so that communities don’t have difficulty accessing them,” said Papa.

The project doesn't stop there, though. The SSRR project has also introduced sanitation and hygiene facilities and has so far provided five schools with new early childhood education (ECE) classrooms.

CEO of Dubai Cares recently visited Rwanda to see the Strengthening School Readiness in Rwanda project in action. VSO/David Kezio-Musoke

CEO of Dubai Cares recently visited Rwanda to see the Strengthening School Readiness in Rwanda project in action.

In each of the 15 sectors in Nyamasheke, two model ECE centres have been established: one developed at an existing primary school and another established within an especially underprivileged community.

There is a clear need for pre-primary education support in Rwanda: at the start of the project, only 1,687 children were being enrolled across the 30 schools, however this number has now tripled.

Across the whole of Rwanda, 15% of children were enrolled nationally in pre-primary education when the SSRR project first started. Over the course of the project, enrolment has only risen to 17.5% in Rwanda, so there’s a clear opportunity to change the futures of thousands of young children. 

Papa Diouf says : “There is a huge opportunity to scale up this model across the country and enable more children with disabilities, and especially children in remote rural areas to achieve school readiness skills for a lifetime of learning.”