Secondary Teachers English Language Improvement Rwanda (STELIR) Launched at University of Rwanda-College of Education

03 May 2023

The University of Rwanda-College of Education (UR-CE) English language Teachers has recently witnessed the launch of the Secondary Teachers English Language Improvement Rwanda (STELIR). The event was officiated by the Acting Principal of the University of Rwanda-College of Education, Dr. Florien Nsanganwimana. It brought together 25 UR-CE English language teachers who will be trained as English Teacher Trainers (ETTs) and e-Teacher/Moderators (eTMs), and the British Council representatives who work with STELIR.

A section of UR-CE English language lecturers who attended the launch of STELIR

STELIR aims to improve the English language proficiency of Lower Secondary Teachers in the Rwandan education system to at least intermediate level, working with 6,000 in-service teachers across 14 districts, plus 1,000 UR-CE Pre-Service teachers, with the goal of improving learning opportunities for lower secondary students.

STELIR Academic Manager, Sarah Peterson during her presentation on STELIR
In this induction session the British Council was represented by Sarah Peterson (STELIR Academic Manager), Ruth Both (Senior Trainer), Pauline Ingabire (IT Manager) and Bernard Ntakirutimana ( IT Project Officer). Participants were informed about the project in general, the course schedule, modalities and expectations. On this occasion, UR-CE lecturers were given course materials including 4 G enabled tablets to facilitate them in this programme.

STELIR Academic Manager, Sarah Peterson during her presentation on STELIR

In her presentation, the Academic Manager (Sarah Paterson) noted that STELIR will provide better learning opportunities of the English to lower secondary education students. This change will be conditioned by their teachers who will have been equipped with better English language skills and thus being able to articulate and explain their subjects in the classroom. According to the course schedule, Lower Secondary Teachers (LSTs) will undertake an initial 30- or 60-hour residential intensive English course which will enable them to achieve enhanced levels of English. They will learn with specifically designed materials taught by English Teacher Trainers (ETTs). The latter will have been trained in communicative language teaching for this very purpose.

It was highlighted that the LSTs will continue to improve their English level after the residential intensive course by completing 60 or 90 hours of self-study materials over 20 weeks on 4G enabled tablet devices loaned by the project for the duration of their study. They will also continue to improve their speaking and production of English. To achieve this, they will participate in weekly live online speaking and communication sessions delivered by e-Teacher/Moderators (eTMs) who will have been trained by STELIR.

The meeting was informed that at the end of the online course, school-based English language classes will be delivered by School-Based Mentors (SBMs) for a period of five months, taking the learning cycle to a full year for each level. Those LSTs who require further language improvement after their courses will attend a second intensive English course one year after the first. They will go through the cycle once or twice more until they have achieved an overall B1 level, with a minimum B1 level in productive skills.

On the side of UR-CE, the model will also be applied to 1,000 students will benefit from intensive and remote blended English courses delivered by UR-CE tutors trained in the same way as the English Teacher Trainers and eTeacher/Moderators.
Participants were also briefed on the STELIR three-stage blended English language course. This includes STELIR blended English language course of (1) 30 or 60 hours (dependent on language level) of intensive in-person English lessons over one or two weeks ; (2) 60 or 90 hours of asynchronous online learning with weekly synchronous live sessions over 20 weeks ; and (3) a final stage of in-person continuous professional development led by School-Based Mentors (SBMs) at schools.
According to the STELIR schedule, teachers’ first contact with STELIR will be the Aptis English proficiency test aimed at gauging their level of English, and they will then be offered STELIR 3-stage blended English language courses at the appropriate level.

Speaking on the occasion, the Acting Principal Dr. Nsanganwimana noted,” This is a project for which we have high expectations as far as improving English proficiency for our students is concerned.” As he said, the programme will help bridge the gaps of English proficiency. He therefore called on the UR-CE lecturers who will be trained first as trainers of trainers to own the STELIR programme, because they are expected to play an important role to make it a success.

Dr. Florien Nsanganwimana, the UR-CE Acting Principal

"As teachers we have to take the responsibility to fix issues related to English language proficiency starting from our University/College and then going down up to primary schools. When we visit schools and discuss with teachers, we realize that they have some gaps in English proficiency that need to be bridged, he said, adding that it is the responsibility of UR-CE lecturers do it,’’ he said.

“You must think of what is going to be their role and what is going to be the role of UR-CE pre-service teachers, and then what will be the role of in-service teachers so that they can improve the proficiency of secondary school leavers who join the university. It is like a vicious circle. I don’t know where it starts, but probably it starts from here [ at university/college], because we are training teachers who are supposed to support young learners down there,” he added.

According to Dr. Nsanganwimana, if teachers are good at English and are role model to their students ensuring that the way they train them and the way they assess them is the right way to help them acquire that competence of English proficiency which is needed, they will be doing their job in the right way. To lecturers who might have been engaged in other activities before STILIR comes up, he advised to adjust their time to give priority to STELIR course, stressing that “it is not a persona business, but an institutional business in which we are supposed to work with partners” ( British Council, Mastercard Foundation and Rwanda Basic Education Board) who played an important role in the design of this project. “For us what we commit to do is to make it successful,” he emphasized.

STELIR is delivered in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation and implemented by British Council in partnership with Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB). It seeks to achieve a sustainable change in the Rwandan education system by adapting training materials for the Rwanda Education Board (REB) for face-to-face intensive and online delivery and by developing a cadre of local English Teacher Trainers (both face to face trainers and e-Teacher/ Moderators) who can deliver ongoing training after the project has ended.

Story by

Public Relations and Community Engagement Officer
University of Rwanda-College of Education


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