Secondary Education English Co-Teacher

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The Ministry of Education has asked the Peace Corps to be a part of the solution in spreading the knowledge and use of English throughout Rwanda’s school system. You will be a part of a group of Education volunteers that works on the dual goals of classroom instruction for primary and secondary school students, as well as collaborating with your Rwandan teaching colleagues to improve their ability to teach all subjects in English. This will be a challenging assignment, but you will find an audience of students and teachers who are extremely motivated to learn English and how to best utilize locally available resources, including books and IT, to improve their work. Most Secondary Education English Co-Teacher Volunteers will be placed in Rwandan secondary schools, co-planning and co-teaching with local teachers.

Education Volunteers are strongly encouraged to undertake activities that contribute to the development of their communities outside of the primary goals of the Ministry of Education. These projects should build on local resources, as community-led activities are the most sustainable.

Promoting or entrenching a culture of reading by helping schools to access and utilize high quality reading materials through libraries has been made a priority by the Ministry of Education.

All Volunteers will participate in Peace Corps’ newly-developed TEFL training program which allows them 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 facilitated by post staff. This training is designed to respond to the goals of TEFL Volunteers:

(1) Building counterpart teacher capacity through teaching Communities of Practice,
(2) Improving student achievement in English, and
(3) Encouraging community engagement in school improvement and student learning.

The Certificate program is validated by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. The US State Department and the English language learning sector worldwide have touted Peace Corps’ TEFL Certificate program as a high-quality credential.

Among the points that we will be emphasizing during your training are:
•Understanding the structure of the education system and education issues in Rwanda.
•Practicing and modeling learner-centered methodologies for colleagues who are accustomed to a traditional, teacher-driven system.
•Lesson planning to engage and motivate teachers through variety, interaction, and relevance.
•Taking advantage of opportunities to work with colleagues to share lessons, model approaches, and collaborate on innovation strategies.
•Supporting students and teachers to improve basic computer skills and incorporating technology in teachers’ daily teaching activities and daily life.
•Dressing "smartly" as an education professional and a community member; this is especially important in Rwanda.

Required Skills

• Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English

Desired Skills

The most competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• BA/BS degree in Education, in English Education, in English or in Secondary Education
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience at the High School level.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

All Trainees learn Kinyarwanda during training. In 2008, Rwanda changed its official language from French to English; thus some Rwandans will not speak much English. In the rural areas where Volunteers live, Kinyarwanda will be essential to daily life and work as a Volunteer. Visit www.kinyarwanda.net to have a look.

Living Conditions

Volunteers live in modest accommodations provided by their school. These accommodations vary both in size and resources depending on what is available in their host community. Some housing will have running water and electricity, some will not. Normally the floors and walls are cemented. Volunteers might use kerosene lanterns for light or charcoal stoves for cooking. Volunteers receive a modest settling in allowance from Peace Corps so they can acquire basic household furnishings and accessories. Housing will be identified and approved according to Peace Corps safety and security standards prior to your arrival at your site.

Volunteers primarily travel by foot, bicycle, or public transportation. Public transportation is available near most sites, and in most cases goes several times a day to and from the nearest regional town with markets and banks. Public transportation is run by various companies and is relatively cheap, but it can be crowded, uncomfortable and unreliable. Volunteers traveling by bike are required to wear a Peace Corps provided helmet.

The climate of Rwanda is made up of two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. The lowest nighttime temperature is around 10 C (50 F) and the highest daytime temperature is about 34 C (94 F).

Rwandans are conservative in attire and grooming. Men keep their hair short and neat--long hair, including locs, on men is unusual. Facial hair is also kept neat and short. In most cases, Volunteers have chosen to shave their facial hair or cut their hair to facilitate integration. Men never have visible piercings. In terms of dress, men wear trousers such as chinos and button-down shirts in work settings. Jackets and ties are occasional requirements. Women wear long dresses and skirts that fall below the knee or trouser suits with tunic style tops in both work and leisure environments. Volunteers are expected to conceal tattoos, remove body piercings and maintain conservative hair styles to align with local standards and ease integration in the community.

Volunteers will encounter very different cultural and social norms that require flexibility and understanding. For example, communication in Rwanda tends to be very indirect, which can be difficult for Americans who have been taught to value direct communication—especially in a work environment.

Women, particularly young women, and younger Volunteers need to be aware of very different gender and age dynamics in Rwanda. Gaining the respect of colleagues and traditional leaders may require more effort than you expect.

Normal working hours for most public institutions are 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, from Monday to Friday. Schools are mainly busy in the mornings until late afternoons (5:00 pm). Based on this, work schedules are developed in collaboration with your designated Rwandan counterpart and supervisor. In addition to classroom teaching, it will require that Volunteers be self-starters and proactive in identifying meaningful activities. Interacting with community members will mean that weekends and holidays are potential prime working times.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop, which not only increases options for internet access, but also enables them to complete required TEFL assignments off-line and upload them at a later date. While Volunteers may also complete the assignments through local internet cafes or other access points, having a laptop will facilitate successful participation in training. Please note that tablets and smart phones are not an effective alternative.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Rwanda: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Couples are welcome. They will be assigned to the same school or two neighboring schools. However, they can extend their work in the neighboring communities (normally in the same school district).

It is also possible to accept couples working across sectors (Peace Corps Rwanda's health and education projects), in which one Volunteer will work at a Community Health Center and another Volunteer will work at a primary or secondary school.

During training and service, couples will stay together. Married couples have served very successfully in Rwanda. They tend to be well accepted as the social norm is to be married by the time you are an adult. Married Volunteers are almost always questioned about their lack of children, as childbearing is one of the most important and normal aspects of married life in Rwanda. Married couples may also face curiosity and/or judgment if they perform different gender roles than are culturally expected. Non-married couples should be prepared to present themselves to their communities as legally married for the length of their service.

In all cases, while couples are warmly welcome, each partner will work in his or her own position and be supervised and supported as an individual Volunteer. It is important that couples realize and accept that they may have different work and/or training schedules. In-service trainings and other events may mean that one person is away from site for a week or more while the other stays at site. Requests to travel or miss work in order to accompany a partner cannot be accommodated, just as they are not approved for single Volunteers.

Medical Considerations in Rwanda

  • Rwanda may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: cardiology; dermatology; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; mammography; seizure disorder; urology; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Rwanda, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.


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