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English Language proficiency among teachers: A sustainable way to prepare students for the future

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During his remarks at the STELIR launch ceremony, Minister of State Gaspard Twagirayezu stated that one of the key aspects to improving the quality of education in Rwanda is to instill English language proficiency in teachers.

English is one of Rwanda’s official languages; it became the medium of instruction at all school levels in 2008, which meant that all students and teachers had to change their current medium of instruction, which was not without challenges.

The quality of education was affected because the teachers themselves had a limited understanding of the language, which hindered teacher-student communication.

This is what prompted the British Council, with the help of partners such as the Rwanda Basic Education Board and the Mastercard Foundation, to launch the STELIR program, which officially launched today, February 9th, 2023.

The Secondary Teachers English Language Improvement Rwanda (STELIR) project aims to improve the English language proficiency of up to 5,525 Lower Secondary Teachers across 14 districts in Rwanda’s state education system.

The project also looks at impacting 1,000 Lower Secondary Pre-Service Teachers in training at the University of Rwanda College of Education (URCE), to the overall ESSP benchmark of B1 (CEFR Intermediate), with a minimum B1 in speaking with the ultimate goal of improving learning opportunities for lower secondary pupils.

With this in mind the project is looking to sustainably change the Rwandan education system by developing a cadres of English Teacher Trainers, and University of Rwanda College of Education (URCE) English trainers, who can deliver ongoing training after the project has ended and who will champion and drive forward improvements.

STELIR will undoubtedly have an impact on future generations through education with this many teachers trained.

Vanessa Komiliades, the STELIR Team Lead from the British Council, stated during the launch today that “With English playing such a pivotal role in education, low English proficiency of teachers can hinder growth and development.”

“With English serving as the language of international business, Education, Diplomacy, Media and Technology, it is clear now that English is a necessity for learning,” she added.

With students facing a highly dynamic world after school, teachers play an important role in ensuring that they are prepared and have received a quality education. The fate of future generations is heavily dependent on these teachers.

During the ceremony, Hon Gaspard Twagirayezu, Minister of State, stated that it is critical for both teachers and students to develop higher skills, and that students need to be exposed to better English to develop their skills and knowledge.

During his remarks, he stated that the STELIR initiative “is the right and sustainable way to prepare our teachers for the important job they have in preparing our students for an increasingly complex world of work.”

These teachers will be able to improve the quality of education that they provide to their students if they are trained to better understand the language that is the primary medium of instruction in schools.

Solange Mukarushema, an Economics teacher at GS Nyagasambu, mentioned this. She stated that the program has assisted her in better understanding English and how to better educate her students.

“I’ll be able to explain what I teach better, and the students will get the education they deserve,” she said.

Speaking at the event, Rica Rwigamba, Country Director of the Mastercard Foundation, stated that teachers play an important role in shaping future generations through education.

“Indeed, teachers are the frontliners of our education system, this is why we strongly believe that investing in them can only improve our students’ learning outcomes,” she said.

The STELIR program is an incredible initiative that will benefit young people, but they must also play a role in ensuring that they take advantage of this opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge.

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