A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Saturday, October 30, 2010

English Based Instruction in East Africa

For the last week I have been working with the Rwandese Ministry of Education and the British High Commission. Two years ago Rwanda joined the East Africa Community and so determined their official language of instruction would be English. For several generations Rwandese have been receiving instructions in their native tongue and also in French. Now, all of a sudden, they are required to speak, teach and learn English. This brings them to Uganda in search of qualified English teachers who can teach their teachers not only English, but also how to teach their subjects in English.

I acted as a native English speaker who is a qualified English Teacher to interview potential teachers to go to Rwanda. I worked with Paul from the Rwandese Ministry of Education. Paul spent many years in Uganda because of the genocide and even received his University degree and Masters from Makerere University in Kampala. He now works high up in the Ministry of Education in Rwanda. He is happy to be back in Rwanda though this cross over from French instruction to English is a big challenge for his country and in his professional career.

We interviewed over 1000 applicants over a 3 day period. They would come to us two at a time and we’d ask them questions about their methodology in the classroom and why they want to teach in Rwanda. They sat before us in their oversized Armani suits from the second hand market and their laminated school records (diplomas, certificates, transcripts, etc.). Many were seasoned teachers and I can only imagine what they must have thought being interviewed by a young American girl.

I was impressed with their desire to go to Rwanda. Many talked about wanting to help their fellow Africans and close neighbors. Some mentioned family members who came from Rwanda. If chosen they will be there until Christmas Eve. Also if chosen, they will receive around $50 a day! Yes, a day! When you consider the fact that an average teacher in Uganda makes around $100 a month this daily figure is astronomical! They will do whatever it takes to get this job.

Some of the people we interviewed were very impressive. Ugandans know the buzz words in Education and they know how to talk their way into most anything. I only hope we passed the ones who will really use inventive methods in their classes and appreciate their time in Rwanda.

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