The ETSK administration, with the support of the Education Committee, has begun to implement a significant new education initiative, designed to catapult the school into the ranks of the top professional high schools in Rwanda. This includes:
IMPROVEMENT OF ENGLISH SKILLS
A key priority for economic development in Rwanda is the continuing transition from French to English speaking. It is also a key educational priority for ETSK.
This priority is now being supported by the hiring of an American teacher volunteer to run our new Student Learning Center; a TV room with English-only language programming; Friday and Saturday night movies in the dining hall in English (with English subtitles); an advanced English course for teachers; a transition to an English Only campus; and special assistance for students requiring remedial English. Our strategy is to have students hear native English spoken at least two hours each day.
TRANSITION TO SELF-EDUCATION
Students need to learn on their own in order to constantly update their knowledge and skills in a changing economy. This will require a major education change.
The current teaching system is for teachers to lecture and students to take notes and study only those notes. A new commitment to foster “Self-Learning” will include: how to ask questions; how to research using books and computers loaded with Wikipedia, Kahn Academy Videos, textbooks and general reading; how to use the new library; how to analyze; how to take initiative and be creative; and how to be entrepreneurial. To do this requires a firm commitment plus new educational resources not previously available.
USE OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE LEARNING
Books and new educational technologies will play an important role in this transition to self-learning. Prior to 2017, there were no books being used in class. However, the government has recently mandated the transition to book learning. It is our intention to be ahead of this curve.
New educational technologies already installed include English language TV, English subtitled movies, and document readers to share textbooks on classroom whiteboards. Plus we have purchased all the new textbooks requested by our teachers.
Best of all, our new Student Learning Center and library are already equipped with: 6 Computer internet stations; 10 reading tablets; Rachel Pi electronic educational library (this resource has over 600 books, hundreds of textbooks, 200,000 Wikipedia articles, 5000 Kahn Academy Learning Videos and other education resources); Rachel Online, a server and wireless hub with many times the Rachel content and a service that feels like actual internet searching;. An American teacher volunteer is managing these new programs.
Peter Vleck New American Teacher
Peter Vleck fills an important new role at ETSK: to upgrade the English skills of our students and faculty; to introduce and implement the new technologies that form the core of our new “Self-Learning” initiative; and to run our new Student Learning Center. Beginning in 2018, Peter will be joined by our first American volunteer/intern to assist in these tasks.
EXPANSION OF SPORTS PROGRAMS
As part of the new initiative, even more emphasis is being put on daily organized sports to encourage all students to participate.
Meet the education committee members who are making a difference
The Committee for Education Expansion was started in Feb. 2017 and has already made great strides in organizing and financing the expansion of education programs at ETSK.
Giuseppe is a medical doctor with specializations in General Surgery and Thoracic Surgery from the University of Parma. From 1986 to 1990 he worked as a war surgeon for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs first in Pakistan and then in Zaire (now Congo-RDC). After a specialization in Health Management at Bocconi University in Milan and an interlude working for Italian NGO AISPO, Giuseppe was Health Program Coordinator in Rwanda, Somalia, Niger, Congo-Brazzaville, China, Syria, and Vietnam under different International Organizations. From 2004 to 2012 he worked as Health Program Coordinator for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs first in Uganda and then in Mozambique. He is currently consulting for Health Programs in Nepal, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso. Most of Giuseppe’s work involved emergency, rehabilitation and development projects mainly in the Health Sector, which includes hospital management, district health management, health financing, decentralization policy and teaching. He also published several articles in scientific journals.
Our School and Youth Village chairwoman, Jeannette is a graduate in clinical psychology from the University of Kibungo in eastern Rwanda and is a member of the Rwanda Association of Trauma Counselors. After the genocide perpetrated against Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, she worked with the women and orphan survivors of the genocide helping with their psychological care. She was Regional Coordinator of the Association of Widows of the Genocide Agahozo (AVEGA) for five years, coordinating psycho-economic activities. Jeannette is the president ETSK’s parent organization, the Hameau des Jeunes Saint Kizito, which helps vulnerable and abandoned children from the local area. Jeannette is also a member of the Association for Community Development through Communication, which works in the eastern part of the country and runs a community radio station.
Born in 1962 in Milan, Italy, Massimo is an educator, play writer, and lover of clowns and comedy theatre. After receiving a degree in education in 1997, he authored the book “Somersaults Among the Stars,” the tale of a smile and the Barabba’s Clowns, to which he has devoted his life. He has been a teacher at the Salesian Center in Arese, Italy, since the age of 23. And, with his wife, Angela, he worked with troubled children at the “Viletta” in Arese. In 1995 he met Father Hermann Schulz, a missionary in Rwanda, and worked with him to rebuild the orphanage, Hameau des Jeunes, that was virtually destroyed during the 1994 Rwandan civil war. Massimo founded the Barabba’s Clowns Association in 1996 and has used it every year to raise funds for the Hameau and to provide opportunities and character development to the youth of the village, as well as support for families in the surrounding hills. Massimo also coordinates regional theatrical productions and, with Barabba’s Clowns, continues to work with troubled young people to bring out their smiles. Massimo has been instrumental in raising funds for theHameau and the ETSK school, as well as overseeing their administration.
Rick is an entrepreneur and graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the Columbia University MBA program in New York City. He and his wife Sue Sawyer were involved in two medical products companies, Jay Medical and RIK Medical in Boulder CO. Also an inventor, Rick holds over 20 U.S. and international patents, including a bicycle saddle soon to be commercialized by Trek. Rick is fluent in Italian, French, and Spanish. He currently runs JARIK Medical, a non-profit he started to help provide 25,000 wheelchair cushions each year to people in developing countries. And he is chairman of the board of Brock USA, a Boulder-based company, run by two of his sons, Dan and Steve. Rick is sharing his management and planning experience with Alexia and the staff at ETSK, starting with the building of the 2017 annual plan, then proceeding to a 3-year strategic plan.
Laura is a psychologist and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist from Piacenza, Italy. She owns a psychotherapy practice and works as a psychologist supervisor in educational communities for deprived youth. Beforehand, Laura worked at the Department of Medical Psychology at San Raffele Hospital in Milan, treating patientswith AIDS and depressive disorders. She is fluent in French and English and lived for two years in a remote Congo Democratic Republic village contributing to an initiative on women’s literacy and family planning. Laura met Father Hermann Schulz in Rwanda in 1981and has remained in contact ever since. She helped to support Alexia Nkurunziza, present Director of HJSK, while Alexia was studying at Piacenza university. Laura’s happy to share her experience and skills with the Musha school and community.
Our school Manager, Alexia is married and mother of two children, Alexia studied at Catholic University of Piacenza, Italy. She majored in environmental management with a minor in agricultural science and technology. Starting in 2006, Alexia worked in Musha as executive secretary of the Youth Village and was appointed in 2010 as director of the Technical School Saint Kizito. She is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and for nine years was commissioner general of the Association of Rwandan Guides (AGR), head of the training team, and promoter of Program 12+ on reproductive health in 30 districts in Rwanda funded by Difd & Nike Foundation. Alexia is also Vice-president of the association of private technical schools (TEVSA), which is the voice of girls and young women against violence. Alexia is thrilled to be part of new Committee and will be the person most responsible for implementing all new initiatives.
Sue is a graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder CO, with majors in sociology and psychology. She worked as a real estate broker and investor before serving as Vice President of both Jay Medical and RIK Medical. She and her husband Rick Jay, have been residing in Italy since 2002 and together have three children and six grandchildren. Sue hopes to share her organization and language skills with the ETSK school and staff.