Teachers Anticipate Transformative Impact from VMSLs Training in Rwanda

18 Jun 2024

The University of Rwanda-College of Education (UR-CE), in collaboration with the Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB), has successfully concluded an intensive training program for S1-S3 Mathematics and Science teachers on the use of Virtual Math and Science Laboratories (VMSLs). This initiative is part of the Rwanda Basic Education for Human Capital Development (RQBEHCD) Sub-component 1.2, financed by the World Bank.

The training sessions, which took place over two weekends (June 8-9 and June 15-16, 2024), were aimed at modernizing instructional tools and enhancing the technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge of Mathematics and Science teachers. The government’s objective is to improve teacher effectiveness and student learning outcomes through continuous professional development.

A total of 1,832 participants were trained across two batches : 1,107 in the first batch and 725 in the second. The training was facilitated by a dedicated team, including 38 facilitators from UR-CE, 10 from REB, and 32 secondary school teachers. Additional support came from developers at Kinagames Ltd, and UR-CE students, ensuring a comprehensive and hands-on training experience.

These VMSL tools are designed to empower teachers, certified by the Continued Professional Development in Innovative Teaching Mathematics and Science (CPD-ITMS), with the skills necessary to support students in applying scientific skills through laboratory experiments and practical activities, which are crucial elements of the competence-based curriculum.

The expected impact of the VMSLs in schools is profound. These virtual labs will provide students with the opportunity to explore scientific concepts through experiments, fostering a deeper understanding and enthusiasm for science subjects. Additionally, VMSLs will mitigate the need for physical laboratory resources, which are often scarce and costly to maintain, thereby democratizing access to quality science education across Rwanda.

Participants in the training expressed overwhelmingly positive views about the anticipated impact of VMSLs. Marie Goretti Mukeshimana, a Biology teacher at GS Gihogwe, shared, “We are excited about using VSLs in my classroom. Students can manipulate experiments directly, not just watch videos. This will clarify content and make lessons more attractive, deepening their understanding and confidence in science."

Marie Goretti Mukeshimana, a Biology teacher at GS Gihogwe

Jean de Dieu Nshimyumukiza, a Physics teacher at GS Bumbogo, remarked, "VMSLs motivate students, enhance ICT skills, improve performance through experiments, and develop social skills via group work. They bring Science Lab materials into the classroom, making it feel like a real lab."

Jean de Dieu Nshimyumukiza, a Physics teacher at GS Bumbogo

Esperance Uwamahoro, a Chemistry teacher at GS Butete, shared her excitement, stating, "VMSLs will allow us to perform diverse experiments and make the content more understandable. This is a game-changer for schools without physical labs."

Esperance Uwamahoro, a Chemistry teacher at GS Butete

Etienne Niyizimigambi, a Math teacher at GS Ndago, expressed his appreciation particularly over how VMSLs will help in teaching abstract Math concepts. He noted that teaching math requires skills to convince learners of abstract concepts so that they can be understood in concrete situations. According to him, VMSLs provide practical methods for learning through hands-on experience. He also observed that previously non-experimental math concepts are now clearly comprehensible with virtual Math and Science Laboratories. Mr. Niyizimigambi recommended that teachers need more VMSLs concepts to make teaching Math easier.

Etienne Niyizimigambi, a Math teacher at GS Ndago

The training also emphasized four channels to achieve more effective teaching from a global perspective under RQBEHCD Sub-component 1.2 : increasing teacher content knowledge, improving classroom teaching practices, ensuring the availability of critical teaching materials and ICT tools, and providing continuous support to teachers. By focusing on these areas, the project ensures that teachers are well-equipped to deliver high-quality education and foster a stimulating learning environment.

The successful completion of this training marks a significant milestone in the journey towards enhancing the quality of education in Rwanda. With the new skills and tools acquired, Mathematics and Science teachers are now better prepared to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists and mathematicians, contributing to the overall development of human capital in Rwanda.

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