The ETSK administration, with the support of the Education Committee, has implemented a significant new education initiative, designed to catapult the school into the ranks of the three top professional high schools in Rwanda. We are quite proud that student enrollment at ETSK has exploded from 170 in 2017 to 320 students since the inception of the initiative, and we are hopeful that, once the Covid crisis is behind us, we can continue to build on this momentum. Initiatives include:
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 priority for ETSK that is now being supported by a number of important initiatives:
ENGLISH TEACHER AND COORDINATOR:
The Committee for Education Expansion (CEI) hires and supports a skilled English-speaking teacher to coordinate its English programs. Pacifique Mucomyiza joined ETSK in February of 2019 and he runs the ETSK library and learning center, remedial English program, English TV program, smart classroom, English for teachers, and technology enhancement programs. He is capably assisted by Obed Niyibizi.
TEACHER TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION:
All teachers are now required to attend intensive TOEFL English learning sessions taught by Pacifique. The goal is to have all ETSK teachers TOEFL certified by the end of 2021.
STUDENT LEARNING CENTER AND LIBRARY:
Pacifique and Obed run this new center. The center is equipped with:
- All major textbooks requested by the teachers;
- Over 300 English books that can be checked out by students;
- Internet service supporting laptop computers that can be utilized for student research projects;
- Rachael Online, a server and wireless hub with outstanding educational content that feels like internet searching, but is much more focused, including 1,000,000 Wikipedia articles; 5000 Kahn Academy videos; 600 books; and numerous other resources.
- Tablet readers used primarily for accessing the Rachel database.
ENGLISH-ONLY TV ROOM:
Rather than discouraging TV viewing, we have decided to embrace it as one of the most effective ways of teaching English. The TV room allows teachers to show YouTube videos in their areas of study during class hours, as well as running English documentaries after class, and movies during the weekend.
Every class blackboard now has a white-painted center section that allows teachers to bring projectors to class and directly share YouTube videos or content from teacher computers. This a major time saver compared to writing everything on the blackboard.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY MOVIE NIGHTS:
The school dining hall is now equipped with a ceiling projector that plays English language movies (with English subtitles) twice every week – another opportunity to hear native English spoken.
Starting in 2019, only English speaking was allowed in all classrooms and the Student Learning Center. Starting in 2020, this was be extended to the dining hall and all common areas of ETSK, with the exception of dormitories, where the native Kenyarwanda will be permitted.
TRANSITION TO SELF-EDUCATION:
The traditional 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.
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 an 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.
Theogene has literally grown up with EETSK as teacher, Dean of Students, and now School Manager. In 2019 he added a post-graduate diploma in “Effective School Leadership” to his Master’s Degree.
Theogene serves as an inspiration to the faculty, the student body, and the Committee for Education Improvement. (See “School” section for a more complete biography.)
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 the Hameau 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.
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.