Projects in Rwanda
There have been dramatic improvements in Rwanda in the last decade with maternal and child health programs. The progress made to date in reducing under-five child mortality was made possible by the Government of Rwanda’s (GoR) high commitment to child survival at the community level including the introduction of Community Health Workers and the scaling up of high impact interventions.
Despite the impressive record in development and economic growth, Rwanda continues to face significant challenges. According to the Rwanda Demographic Health Survey (DHS) 2020 results, 33% of children under-five are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. Stunting is most common among children aged 12-17, 18- 23, and 24-35 months (32.8 percent, 39 percent, and 40.4 percent, respectively) resulting in increased mortality and morbidity, decreased educational achievement, and lost productivity. Other effects of undernutrition include anemia, wasting, pre-term labor, low birth weight infants, and increased rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Since 2008, Peace Corps Rwanda has been operating a Health Project, working at the village level with diversified health objectives. At the invitation of the GoR/Ministry of Health in 2015, the Peace Corps Health program shifted from its general public health project to focus on the GoR’s First 1,000 Days campaign. The first 1,000 days addresses GoR priorities and approaches to Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) such as nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), prevention of common childhood illness, capacity building of health service providers, etc. Volunteers live at the village level and work primarily with the Community Health Center. Their primary goal is to identify and provide support to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and young children. With their Rwandan colleagues, Volunteers follow mothers over time to make sure they are supported in their efforts to stay healthy, have a healthy pregnancy and safe birth, and to promote the optimal development of their children in accordance with the Government of Rwanda’s First 1,000 Days priorities.
In 2009, Peace Corps Rwanda opened an Education Project. The Ministry of Education asked Peace Corps to be a part of their efforts to enhance English proficiency throughout the school system. Peace Corps Rwanda is among education stakeholders that are working on the dual goals of classroom instruction for primary and secondary school students and building capacity of teachers to speak and teach in English. Education stakeholders have opportunities to collaborate with local education and community leaders who are extremely motivated to find ways to adequately utilize locally available instructional resources that have potential to improve the quality of English language instruction.
Peace Corps Volunteer teachers in Rwanda participate in Peace Corps’ TEFL training program which allows Volunteers to earn a Peace Corps TEFL Certificate upon successful completion of program requirements. This program provides 120 hours of standardized training and practice teaching along with two years of supervised teaching experience framed through quarterly online learning events and face-to-face workshops facilitated by certified Peace Corps Rwanda staff. The trainings are designed to respond to the goals of the Peace Corps Rwanda’s Education Project including building teacher capacities through teacher communities of practice, improving student achievement in English and other subjects, and encouraging community engagement in student learning and school improvement.
Applicants who are not motivated to participate in supporting teaching and English skills of local teachers through the TEFL Certificate Program should strongly consider participation in another country. Preference first goes to applicants who are interested in serving in a TEFL Certificate Program post.
Peace Corps Volunteer teachers work with primary schools (the American equivalent of 4th, 5th and 6th grade levels) and secondary schools (the American equivalent of 7th, 8th and 9th grade levels) to teach English as a foreign language. In addition to teaching and capacity building, Volunteers work with clubs at their schools to address study skills, mentoring, library and Information/Communication Technology development, and youth life skills.