University of Rwanda-College of Education to Start a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Certificate for Enhancing Teaching and Learning Using Music, Dance and Drama

30 Sep 2021

The University of Rwanda-College of Education (UR-CE) started today a new Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Certificate in Teaching and Learning using Music, Dance and Drama for secondary school teachers. The development of this CPD program is the objective of the 5-day workshop taking place at UR-SPIU, Kicukiro District. The exercise has brought together a team of UR-CE lecturers, teachers from secondary schools trained in the methodology of teaching and learning using music, dance and drama as well as artists from the Rwanda Art Council (RAC) representing music, dance and drama federations. Dr. Sylvestre NZAHABWANAYO, a Senior Lecturer at UR-CE and the Principal Investigator of Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) which supports this initiative sheds light on this program.

Can you please introduce yourself to our readers ?

I am Dr. Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo, a Senior Lecturer at UR-CE. I am also the Principal Investigator for the Project entitled “Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) : Informing the National Curriculum and Youth Policy for Peace building in Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Indonesia and Nepal”, a project funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

What are the objectives of MAP project ?

MAP project seeks to use arts-based approaches to achieve a number of purposes. First, the project is committed to use music, dance and drama for enhancing teaching and learning. Next, the project explores the use of music, dance and drama for peace building in and out of schools. In the third instance, we are committed to use local cultural art forms for promoting good mental health through the provision of arts-based psycho-social support.

A section of participants in the workshop

The use of music, dance and drama for enhancing teaching and learning is the first component of the project. The present workshop aims therefore to develop a CPD Certificate which will serve for this purpose in Rwandan secondary schools. We are bringing together artists and teachers ; we are bringing closer local cultural art forms and the content knowledge with a view to use those local cultural art forms as a medium to explore, communicate and share knowledge. This ambition is part of a broad agenda typically known as ‘decolonizing education’. The de-colonial project seeks to de-link Global North hegemonies in knowledge production and modes of communication. Critical to the de-colonial agenda is to recognize the importance of local or indigenous cultural assets such as language and art in knowledge production, expression and communication.

What are the issues this CPD is expected to address ?

This CPD will address a number of issues observed in teaching and learning in secondary schools in Rwanda. Some of these concerns include, for instance, (i) teacher-centered pedagogies where the teacher is at the centre of the teaching process and the learner is considered as an empty vessel to be filled with content/knowledge ; (ii) low involvement of learners in the teaching and learning process ; (iii) lack of a sustained teaching methodology to implement the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) in secondary schools as recommended by the Rwanda Basic Education (REB) ; (iv) low involvement of local cultural art forms in teaching and learning but also in promoting the culture of peace in Rwanda schools ; (vi) high levels of dropout and repetition in secondary schools due to children ’disliking’ the school ; and (vii) potential instances of physical violence infringed on learners observed in the form of corporal punishment and conflated with promoting discipline. Furthermore, the CPD intends to address potential structural and cultural (symbolic) violence in the form of ideologies, beliefs, attitudes and values which might be at odds with the idea of creating conditions allowing high school learners to bring the best out of themselves and actualize their potentials.

How this CPD will deal with all these problems ?

This CPD comes to create innovative ways of teaching and learning where learners will enjoy teaching and learning as well as going to school. Teachers will also enjoy their teaching profession. Also, what we want to achieve in this CPD is to give value to our local cultural art forms/practices. Most of the time the content or knowledge we give to learners in classroom employs foreign categories and symbols in foreign languages, all of which sometimes leading to foreign values and attitudes. Our learners learn in English language, and that English comes with categories which do not match the context of our learners. In this project, we are exploring ways of drawing from our local cultural art forms in such a way that categories and concepts used in teaching and learning can reflect the cultural repertoire and background of learners.

How will UR-CE drive change in the teaching and learning process with this CPD ?

In this CPD, we want students to learn in categories, symbols and representations that they understand and associate themselves with. The idea is to create a teaching and learning setting deeply informed by local cultural art forms in such a way that learners feel at easy when they are engaging with the content. In other words, the content will be transmitted and communicated using categories, examples, beliefs, images, representations which are familiar to learners. Teaching and learning in both content and form will be informed by local cultural art forms (e.g. music, dance, drama) which learners are conversant with.

Practically, we are saying that a Mathematics or Science teacher can do the job using music, dance and drama. Equally, a teacher teaching Social Science subjects or Languages can do the same. The caveat here becomes to identify and/or create local artworks in the form of songs, dance and drama that can best serve to teach Mathematics and Science, Social Science subjects and Languages. For instance, can a mathematics teacher teach geometry using Imihamirizo ? Can a history teacher use music and dance to teach the Rwandan history ? Essentially, we are here to bridge the gap between the domain of art and that of education. We are putting together art and education (teaching and learning). We are committed to what we actually call ‘arts-based education’, or ‘teaching and learning informed by arts-based approaches’ in such a way that we have arts merged with teaching and learning.

Suppose that I enter a classroom for lesson observation, what are the characteristics of MAP approach shall I observe ?

When you enter a classroom where a teacher is using music, dance and drama, you will notice these specific features :
 Learners are motivated ;
 Learners are engaging actively with the content ;
 Learners are interacting actively among themselves, but also with their
teacher ;
 You will hardly distinguish between a teacher and a learner chiefly because all of them are co-producing and co-creating knowledge through performance. In other words, teaching and learning becomes a co-produced performance, a performance which is enjoyed by both the learner and teacher.

Also, when you enter a classroom, you will realize that the content is not delivered in what we call ‘didactic approaches’ in the course of which you have a teacher at the front sitting in an authority position and learners sitting in a passive position and busy listening. You will rather see the teacher and the learner co-creating and co-producing knowledge, where each one is learning from each other. Again, when you see a classroom where MAP approach is used, you will not realize when this class has ended, because the beginning, the half-way and even the end are equally enjoyable ! It is a classroom that is active, engaging and interactive.

Last but not least, when you enter this classroom, you will hear music, dance or drama informing teaching. It will be a lesson characterized by a series of performances through which knowledge is communicated and shared. In this performance, both the teacher and learner are active, and knowledge flows from the teacher to learners and vice versa, i.e., everyone learns from each other.

The University of Rwanda-College of Education (UR-CE) and the University of Lincoln (UoL-UK) - the lead partner- have received a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC-UK). This grant is meant to implement the “Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) Project : Informing the National Curriculum and Youth Policy for Peace building in Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Indonesia and Nepal."

The CPD workshop brought together UR-CE lecturers, secondary schools teachers and artists

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


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