10 Nov 2023
A team of the University of Rwanda-College of Education academic staff and researchers led by Dr. Irenee Ndayambaje as the Principal Investigator has completed their study entitled “Exploring Strategies to Support Students’ Learning amidst Covid-19 Pandemic in Rwanda.” Their work is an important tool of information that gives insights into several aspects related to remote learning. It is believed that its findings and recommendations pave the way for initiatives aiming at a sustainable future of remote teaching and learning in the Rwandan system of education.
Methodologically, the research was conducted in 54 out of 419 schools from 7 districts (2 urban, 5 rural). Those districts are Kicukiro, Rubavu, Kirehe, Rutsiro, Nyaruguru, Burera, and Gatsibo. The respondents were mainly head teachers and deputy headteachers in charge of studies who were purposively selected and interviewed. Other interviewed people included 7 key informants.
Throughout their work, the research team sought to explore and evaluate strategies used by school leaders to track the students’ learning progress during school closure due to COVID-19, to assess how school leaders managed to continuously engage teachers to support their students during school closure due to COVID 19, and to examine strategies they used to guarantee a successful back to school after school closure due to COVID 19.
The study findings have shown that, as strategies to track students’ learning progress, most school leaders used home visits and communication with parents using telephone calls or WhatsApp messages.
Leaders were also continuously engaged with teachers to support their students by delivering school messages, giving feedback to subject teachers, and providing emotional support to teachers who had manifested emotional distress due to COVID-19. With CPD activities teachers were tipped on the use of remote learning tools and facilitate learning to address student learning challenges during school closure and re-opening
For school reopening, it was important to minimize learning losses and to avoid long-term learning losses while reviving learning. The study found out that school leaders collaborated with local leaders and development partners in implementing back-to-school campaigns and remedial and catch-up exercises to ensure a successful return to school after the school closure.
Following the finds, the researchers recommended that, at the policy level, remote learning be adopted not as a back-up or alternative but as an embedded teaching-learning strategy among others. Since homes have become learning spaces, they need to be thought about in terms of access to ICT devices. These education experts recommended that the learning content across the curriculum should be digitalized, rendered interactive, and self-guided to vivify active and independent learning among students.
As far as school leaders, teachers, parents, and students are concerned, they need to be equipped with digital skills and connect through digital platforms. In addition, school leaders and teachers should continuously benefit from Continuous professional development courses. Some of the areas of focus would be (i) ICT proficiency, (ii) school counselling, (iii) Online learning, and (iv) leading teaching and learning in a crisis context.
Furthermore, parents and communities should continue supporting schools to fulfill their education-related mandates such as sharing information about students and providing learning resources required to students.
This study was guided by the following research objectives : (i) to evaluate the strategies used by school leaders to track the students’ learning progress during school closure due to Covid 19, (ii) to assess how school leaders managed to continuously engage teachers to support their students during school closure due to Covid 19, and (iii) to examine strategies used by school leaders to guarantee a successful back to school after school closure due to Covid 19.
Please click here to access the Policy Brief of this research :
Story by Ntirandekura Schadrac, PRO/UR-CE