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Project-Based Learning (PBL) : An Innovative Approach for Effective Implementation of the Competence-Based Curriculum ( CBC ) in Rwanda Secondary Schools

03 Nov 2022

The University of Rwanda-College of Education is partnering with the Ministry of Education through Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) to enhance teacher effectiveness for improving student learning. This is in the framework of the implementation of the Rwanda Quality Basic Education for Human Capital Development (RQBECD) project. To do so, both institutions have undertaken a series of initiatives which are aimed to support professional development of Mathematics and Science teachers, as per the project’s sub-component 1.2. In this regard, the Project-Based Learning (PBL) has been introduced among other innovative learner-centered methods in a quest to achieve this objective.

What is PBL ?

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching and learning approach in which complex real-world problems are used as the vehicle to promote students’ learning of concepts and principles as opposed to direct presentation of concepts and facts.

Why Project-based Learning in Rwandan Education system ?

The Project-Based Learning (PBL) , as one of the learner-centered teaching approaches, was proposed by the RQBEHCD project team leaders as a sustainable solution that could address identified problem in teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science. PBL has been chosen as it is at a high level of inquiry that can easily promote Rwandan CBC competences.
“One area of innovation in Mathematics and Science Education is Project-Based Learning ( PBL) Modules will be implemented in lower secondary grades(S1-S3), beginning with 63 schools that 16 TTCs,17 Model Schools, and 30 Science Schools ( one per district),” noted Associate Professor Pheneas Nkundabakura who is the Team Leader of RQBECD sub-component 1.2.

According to him, Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and meaningful projects. In Project-Based Learning, students work on a project over an extended period – from a week up to a trimester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question.

What is the importance of PBL as an approach of teaching ?

Students develop their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience. As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. All these skills are emphasized in the CBC.


PBL Modules are aligned to the Rwanda CBC

UR-CE facilitators in collaboration with REB staff, developed Project-Based Learning (PBL) modules and or projects. They are 15 in total. These projects were reviewed and aligned with the Rwanda CBC.

Maths and Science Teachers’Training on the PBL approach
The training of teachers that will facilitate the implementation of these projects in the schools has kicked off on the 20th September 2022 with the first phase to end on the 30th October 2022. Participants are split into 2 groups : one group of those who teach Mathematics and Physics, and the second group was made of those who teach Biology and Chemistry.
"The first group as trained on how to programme robots and how to print objects in 3 dimensions. They were also trained on solar cells and one important sensors. They are also shown on how to make an installation of electricity in a house," said Associate Professor Nkundabakura.

The second group, he continued, was trained on project related to making food processing : yogurt, cheese, cake etc. They were also trained to clean water as well as make soaps, Vaseline. They were also taught on how to process the remains of bees wax and produce : candles, shoe polish, cake etc. “These projects will help to open up their minds and discover that the science they are being taught can be useful to solve some problems in our society, The program will develop more skills and competencies of learners,” he elucidated.

Talking about Solar Energy and Solar Lantern project, Ms. Pascasie Nyirahabimana, Physics Facilitator noted that the implementation of Solar Energy and Solar Lantern project will help in increasing student motivation, improve learning outcomes, independent learning and connect classroom work to professional practice.

“It will also help students to understanding the following concepts of work, energy, and power ; sources of energy ; renewable and non- renewable energy ; renewable and non-renewable energy ; energy sources ; classification and characteristics of energy sources ; energy transformations ; simple electric circuits ; series and parallel connection, among others”.

Maths and Science Teachers appreciate training on the PBL approach

Participant Ms. Marie Claire Ingabire, a teacher at GSNDL Byimana stated that the project of Food Processing is more exciting, because it addresses nutritional and economic issues. She added that the making cake project enhances the implementation of CBC, which requires practice. “This project will help my students improve their skills and relate the lessons they have learned to their daily lives,” she said.

Mr. Jean de Dieu Uwitonze, a teacher at GS Umubano II, stated that these projects help to generate income, reduce expenses, and will help their students to discover and become confident in learning Mathematics and Science.

It is a requirement for teachers who have been trained on Project-Based Learning (PBL) to transfer knowledge and skills gained from the training to students in their respective schools. To facilitate this, the Rwanda Quality Basic Education for Human Capital Development project provided PBL equipment to all concerned schools. Also, Schools Leaders were invited to a sensitization workshop whereby they were briefed on the rationale of PBL approach and recommended to support its implementation in their schools.

For more information, please open the following links for videos : https://youtu.be/95HfG_5d-v4 and https://youtu.be/VjfW5PQWVhk
In photos :

Biology and Chemistry Teachers Group making Beewax products like Candle and Jelly

Mathematics and Physics Teachers Group making hands-on activity of Solar Energy and Latern Energy

A group of Mathematics and Physics Teachers working on Water Level
Sensor/Detector

A group of Biology and Chemistry Treachers making a soap (mSaponification)

Story by

NTIRANDEKURA Schadrac
Public Relations and Community Engagment Officer
University of Rwanda-College of Education

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