Firstly, from everyone here at APIE we wish you a belated Happy New Year! The first two months of the year have been a hive of activity both in Rwanda and in the UK, and we have seen lots of exciting developments occurring as we have waved goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016.
In Rwanda, due to the introduction of a new skills-based curriculum, country-wide teacher training saw a later than average start to the school year. During January, Amy Barnecutt, APIE’s Country Director in Rwanda also delivered further training to Umubano’s teachers. For the first time since the school opened, she brought together the Nursery staff for dedicated Early Years training. Staff responded with great excitement; they all had lots of ideas as to how the children might use the home corner and other activity areas in the classroom, as well as thoughts for the sort of language development that could take place in each area. There was also much discussion about traditional versus modern kitchens; in the context of as rapidly developing a city as Kigali, children all have varying experiences at home. The importance of Kinyarwanda in this play for learning was also discussed, something which ties in strongly with the new curriculum.
As part of the training, the teachers and had the opportunity to visit another nursery setting at The Earth School, Kigali, which follows an international Montessori programme. Following the training, the teachers were very enthusiastic and they produced a long list of resource requests. These were conveyed to us in the Brighton office, where we called upon our friends at Brunswick School for donations. We were absolutely overwhelmed with the generosity of the pupils who have donated a veritable mountain of good quality books, toys, games and dressing up clothes, which were packed as carefully as possible in order for CEO Angie and Trustee Keith to take out to Umubano. We had so many beautiful donations that we had to enlist the help of a friend, Jo Westbrook from the University of Sussex, to take out two more suitcases for us on a subsequent trip – thank you Jo! Other resources are being made locally, providing work for local families as well as keeping costs low and materials locally produced and of course, the teachers were also very creative in making resources themselves.
In the UK office we have also had a busy time, saying some goodbyes and some hellos both in the office and with new partners – more on those in forthcoming blogs….
In October we said goodbye to Charlotte who had been our outstanding Project Officer for over a year. We wish her well in her new ventures in London. We also said goodbye to our hardworking intern Viv and wish her luck with teacher training. We had great news that Molly, our summer intern, got a teaching job for next year. Congratulations Molly! APIE loves to host interns with a passion for international education so if you are interested please let us know.
We welcome Laurenne Ajayi as our new Project Officer and also say a huge thank you to Sarah Lamb for the few days she has given us to support the never-ending and crucial business of income-generation and report writing. Sarah’s clear thinking and solid experience kept us sane and helped enormously.
We have plenty of exciting plans for the upcoming year and will be writing again soon with more details. With our huge success of meeting our 2015 Scholarship fundraising target of £10,000, we have set the bar higher for 2016…£15,000! This money is to keep 30 scholarship students in school, and in doing so, supporting our commitment to inclusion. It is going to be a big challenge, but with all the support we had last year plus some new fundraising ideas in the pipeline, we’re determined to make it!