Umubano Primary School is now six months into the year, in the third year since its doors opened. From VSO filming the nursery classes and the excellent exam results, to introducing a house points system and introducing students to pain for the first time, it has been a busy and productive few months. Here are some of the highlights.
January / Mutarama / Janvier
After a relaxing Christmas break, Umubano Primary School began the new school year with over 250 students on roll and the buzz around the excellent results that the P6 students achieved in the national exams. There was a 50% increase in students achieving the highest grade and everyone was incredibly pleased with how they had done.
We began the new term with a new Headteacher, Jean de Dieu Dusingize, and Lead Practitioner, Kathy Newman, taking over the reins from Amy Barnecutt who left to have her baby.
We also welcomed 30 students who are now able to attend Umubano Primary School, or continue their studies there, because of the Scholarship Fund. This exists to ensure that no child within 30 minutes walk of the school is excluded – no matter what their background or circumstances.
February / Gashyantare / Février
This month we were delighted to welcome VSO, a large international NGO, into Umubano’s nursery classes to film the good practice to use in their training materials for Early Childhood Development training. They produced a training manual to go alongside the film to help others in their nursery classes and Early Childhood Centres that are springing up in Rwanda. Early Childhood Education is a growing priority in Rwanda and while we are still in the early stages of developing best practice at Umubano Primary School, we were honoured to be used as an example that could be shared with others across the country.
Furthering our teacher training programmes Kathy, our Lead Practitioner based in Umubano Primary School, went to find out if it would be useful for Umubano Primary School to host teachers training in the new Early Childhood curriculum during their term long internships next year. She was welcomed by the University of Kigali and is pursuing the arrangement to host students from the Teacher Training Colleges next year.
We also welcomed three new teachers to the school: Alice in P1, Stephen in P5 and Fidele in P6. We hope they settle in well and contribute to our vision of creating Umubano Primary School as a centre of excellence.
March / Werurwe / Mars
In March, Umubano Primary School saw their drawings come to life with colour as the students used paint for the first time in their lives. Lucy, Chair of Trustees and an artist, taught the students to storyboard, to mix paint to make different colours and to use it to illustrate their pictures. The children were thrilled and we were humbled to be able to bring them such excitement. Lucy left plenty of supplies so they can continue their art work in lessons and school clubs.
Sport is another important part of the curriculum at Umubano Primary School – to promote healthy, active lifestyles and give the children time to run around and learn to work in a team. This month, Umubano Primary School students took part in a football match against Kigali City School and won one of the games. This is a great way to get children from different schools interacting with each other and to give the children a well earned afternoon of excitement after studying hard for their exams.
March also saw our international partnerships go digital as Headteacher Jean de Dieu began his Skype sessions with Martyn Vandewalle, Headteacher of The Wroxham School in the UK. International partnerships play a major role in our work and help strengthen the model of high quality education in Rwanda, and develop opportunities for true reciprocal learning in a range of areas. Click here to see a video of their first ever meeting and hear about their plans to develop the partnership further.
April / Mata / Avril
In April, parents, teachers and students came together for a fantastic end of term assembly to celebrate the progress that had been made so far this term and reward everyone’s hard work. Each class, from P1 to P6 prepared a presentation to the parents and demonstrated all the things they had learned. Some chose to perform a comedy sketch, others wrote poems and some showed off their dancing and drumming skills. The children performed in all three languages taught at UPS: English, French and Kinyarwanda. After the show, parents spoke with their children’s teachers and collected school reports before heading home for the two week Easter break.
May / Gicurasi / Mai
In May, Early Childhood staff from Umubano Primary School went with Kathy on a field trip to visit Bright School, a nearby nursery school which uses a play-based curriculum. They enjoyed seeing another nursery in action and reflecting on what Umubano Primary School does and could do better, in nursery classes to give children the best possible start in life. This is a great example of reciprocal learning and shared professional development. We look forward to hosting Bright School teachers for a day at Umubano soon.
We have been working hard with teachers and students over the past few months to build a positive behaviour strategy in the school and reward good behaviour. Teachers have worked together to co-write a policy and come up with exciting rewards for the students. One way we have done this is to allocate the children to school ‘houses’ and run termly competitions for the house that wins the most points. This term, the Blue House won the most points and chose to celebrate their win by watching a film and having some popcorn. Read more on the Umubano School website.
June / Jamena / Juin
This month P5 and P6 enjoyed an exciting week of story planning and writing. Reading and writing are crucial and interlinked skills –skills that the growing library only encourages! The students learned to structure stories, to brainstorm their characters and came across lots of new vocabulary. They also learned how to proofread and edit their work to improve it. The best stories were read out in assembly to inspire the rest of the children. See Gloria from P6 reading her story to the school.
Jean de Dieu, Headteacher of Umubano Primary School went on a district visit to the Ntarama genocide memorial site to commemorate the genocide. Peace Education will be an important part of the new Rwandan school curriculum to begin in 2016 and he recently attended further training at the Kigali Memorial Museum to support Umubano Primary School in teaching this. Jean de Dieu said about his visit: It was for us a time to commemorate the genocide against the Tutsi that happened in Rwanda in 1994. It was also a time to pay tribute to the victims. As educators, we saw how badly genocide affected Rwanda and it is everyone’s responsibility to reshape our history by making peace everywhere and especially by teaching about peace at school. Read his full report here.
We are so grateful to everyone who has contributed to our vision and our work over the last six months and so pleased with all the progress made. With plans to build a school hall, increase our teacher training programmes, equip Umubano Primary School with ICT equipment and further develop our international partnerships we are looking forward to making these a reality over the next six months.