Guest Blog Post by Robert Sande, Rwanda Education Specialist
With Edify’s footprint in 11 countries, we’ve had to navigate the numerous challenges of this past year. These challenges present themselves in hundreds of different contexts based on country, region, city, town, and language. What affects our Latin American partner schools isn’t the same as those in Northeast India. Questions in our West African schools aren’t always the questions our partner schools ask in Uganda or Rwanda.
But the one commonality spanning the globe is people everywhere are making hard decisions.
Since last spring, we’ve encouraged and supported thousands of school proprietors as they walk through their new virtual reality. Our Education Specialist in Rwanda, Robert Sande, wrote a blog post as a resource for school proprietors. It showcased the decisions proprietors might face as they reopen and regroup their schools. We wanted to share with you a portion of Robert’s post, which gives a glimpse into the choices many of our partner schools are met with today.
“As schools work hard to reopen, one of the critical issues at stake will be calculating and deciding how much these independent schools should charge. This is particularly important because of the financial constraints caused by COVID-19 in this uncertain time, our “new normal.” For most low-fee independent schools in Rwanda, school fees remain the largest, if not the only, source of revenue. Given this importance, schools need to be certain that they charge a reasonable fee for both the school to operate and flexible so that parents can agree and commit to paying.
Although globally, schools and education were hard hit by the pandemic, the way we can respond in the aftermath will have a huge difference in determining how children can best regain the learning they lost.
School leaders will have to set new school fee structures and how best to use the revenues by investing in priority areas. I recall when I was a school principal here in Rwanda when school fees were incrementally changed after comparisons with the other ‘competitors’ in the market…How should schools arrive at this decision as they plan to reopen? Having an involved leadership team in such school matters can be beneficial as opposed to relying on only the insight of the school proprietor or headteacher alone.
Schools will have to prioritize technology and improve relations with teachers, students, and parents. The priority of relationship-building can help school owners strengthen relationships with teachers to rebuild the trust and loyalty that was lost due to the lockdown…Professional development courses are needed and valuable. This is especially true for technological usage and curriculum planning since blended learning will be of the utmost importance to schools moving forward. Planning ahead of time and preparing for a new era are all necessary. Owners shouldn’t wait for government policies to make business plans and budgets that implement technology and other initiatives…”
Robert gives us just a small look into the pandemic’s effects in the behind-the-scenes operations of providing education during this time. Since the writing of his blog post, Rwanda has reopened its schools. Trainings and support are being delivered to our partner schools weekly as their school year continues into April. We’re helping school proprietors navigate complex circumstances with their business in mind. We’re praying for, safely gathering with, and connecting these courageous men and women with others in their region to build a strong support network. They haven’t faced this season alone. And as they continue to mitigate challenges, rebuild their schools, and believe in Christ-centered transformation in their community—our team will be right beside them.
Want to learn more about our work in Rwanda? Click here.