Emmanuel Muvunyi, Deputy Director-General of the Rwanda Education Board
29 August 2012
Innovative education projects honoured at Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers
A community-based project from Rwanda to ensure equitable access to nine years of basic, quality education and skills has won the 2012 Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards.
Nine Year Basic Education Fast Track Strategies was initiated in 2009 as a response to a heightened demand for secondary education in Rwanda, following the successful implementation of universal primary education six years earlier.
The award was presented to Emmanuel Muvunyi, Deputy Director-General of the Rwanda Education Board, by Dr Ahmed Rashid Beebeejaun at the opening ceremony of the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Mauritius today (29 August).
The judges said the project addressed the immediate need for expansion of education after the devastation of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
“Beyond the expansion of access to education, it represented a qualitative shift in the dynamics of schooling and made a major contribution to national reconciliation,” they said.
The winning project was one of 123 applications from 27 countries submitted for the third round of the awards.
Project leader Mr Muvunyi said: “It is a great honour and privilege for the people of Rwanda because they are the ones who own this project. We are pleased as new members of the Commonwealth to be able to offer something back.”
The Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards are held every three years to celebrate and promote new and innovative education projects from across the Commonwealth.
Ten finalists presented their programmes to a panel of expert adjudicators before the ceremony. The practices covered issues such as basic education; numeracy and literacy; climate change education; teacher training; inclusive education; youth; and teaching mother tongue at an early education stage.
In second place was the Malaysia School Co-operative, which ‘embeds’ entrepreneurship skills in its students, preparing them for the challenges and competitiveness of a globalised world. Judges said the school provided a convergence of classroom learning with outdoor, practical and real-life applications. It was a good example of active and dynamic learning.
In third place was Plan Uganda’s Community Led Actions for Children.The project targets disadvantaged children from high poverty communities and provides holistic early childhood care and development support to children under eight. Judges said the project addressed significant gaps and needs focusing on the lives of marginal and excluded children.
Two special awards were also announced:
The Steve Sinnott award for Commonwealth Teachers was given to Teachers of the Future, a project in Mozambique, which judges said had brought modern teaching to rural schools and emphasised the use of local resources. The award is given in honour of the late Steve Sinnott, former General Secretary of the UK’s National Union of Teachers, and recognises the practice which contributes most to the professional development of teachers.
A special Jubilee Award to mark HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee was presented to the practice which best reflected this year’s Commonwealth theme ‘Connecting Cultures’. It was won by New Zealand’s Effective Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour Practice. Their project assists teachers and schools to meet the needs of students at risk of underachievement.
Special recognition was also given to the Learn to Read with Butterfly Project from Seychelles. Judges said it was “a truly indigenous home grown innovation, tapping the creativity of practising teachers, and serving as an inspiration to other Kréòl speaking countries”.
The education good practices must address at least one of eight action areas: achieving universal primary education; eliminating gender disparities in education; improving quality in education; using distance learning to overcome barriers; supporting education in difficult circumstances; mitigating the impact of HIV on education systems; using education to promote sustainable development; and promoting civil paths to peace. These align with the Millennium Development Goals, Education for All goals, and the Commonwealth’s education priorities.
Submissions are evaluated by independent adjudicators on their relevance to the local context, measurable impact, sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness, community involvement, and ability to be replicated.