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English Education Co-Teacher

Project description

The Rwandan Ministry of Education has asked the Peace Corps to support the knowledge and use of English throughout Rwanda’s school system. As a Peace Corps Rwanda Education Volunteer, you will provide classroom instruction for primary and/or lower secondary school students, as well as collaborate with Rwandan 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.

You will also participate in Peace Corps’ Rwanda’s TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training program which allows you 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
(3) Increasing community engagement in student learning through school and/or community-based activities
(4) Establishing or improving school libraries to increase availability of reading materials to students.

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 the Peace Corps’ TEFL Certificate program as a high-quality credential.

Among the points that we will be emphasizing during your TEFL training are:

•Understanding the structure of the educational system and challenges in Rwanda.
•Reviewing relevant curricula documents including Rwanda’s competence-based curriculum (CBC) framework and related documents such as grade level syllabi, textbooks, and supplementary resources.
•Practicing and modeling learner-centered methodologies for colleagues who are accustomed to a traditional, teacher-driven classroom.
•Planning Lessons to engage and motivate teachers, accomplished through co-planning/teaching and the (Certificate in Classroom Participation) CICP.
•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.
•Dressing appropriately as an education professional and a community member

As part of their primary project, all Education Volunteers will be expected to work closely with their Rwandan colleagues to help them earn the Certificate in Classroom Participation (CICP), a credential awarded by Peace Corps Rwanda. The number of English teachers you will support in this capacity building initiative will be specific to your site and determined by school leadership before your arrival, but it is typically a minimum of three teachers.

Promoting 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.

Peace Corps Rwanda promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Rwanda and you will have the opportunity to co-implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

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

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Preschool, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with Elementary Education state certification.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level. Full time Montessori teaching experience is also acceptable.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. You will 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 become familiar with this language. Continuing to improve your language skills beyond training and through your service will be extremely important for your success in your community.

Living conditions

Volunteers live in modest housing provided by their school that vary both in size and resources depending on what is available in the host community. Some housing will have running water and electricity, some will not. Volunteers might use solar lanterns for light, and charcoal and/or gas stoves for cooking. Volunteers receive a modest settling in allowance from Peace Corps for basic household furnishings and accessories. Housing will be identified and approved according to Peace Corps safety and security standards.

Volunteers primarily travel on foot, by 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 relatively cheap but can be crowded 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. In professional working environments in which Peace Corps is invited to serve, Volunteers are held to the same standards as their Rwandan counterparts. Rwandan men wear trousers such as chinos and button-down shirts in work settings. Jackets and ties are occasional requirements for certain activities. Men keep their hair cut short and well-groomed. Facial hair is kept neat and short. Rwandan women wear long dresses and skirts that fall below the knee or trouser suits with tunic style tops in both work and leisure environments. Women may wear their hair long, but keep it styled conservatively.

Tattoos, piercings on men, and long hair on men (including locs), are traditionally not accepted in professional environments, although trends are changing in urban areas. Volunteers with visible tattoos and male volunteers with piercings or long hair will have more difficulty integrating into work settings and may consider covering tattoos, removing piercings, and/or cutting hair short. Locs on men are not worn by Rwandan teachers, but short loc styles worn by non-Rwandan teachers can be acceptable.

Volunteers will encounter 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.

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, the work schedules are developed in collaboration with your Rwandan counterparts and supervisor. As an Education Volunteer, you will need a laptop to complete required TEFL assignments. If you would like a Peace Corps issued laptop, you will be provided an allowance for local purchase upon arrival regardless of whether or not you bring a personal laptop. Please note that PC Rwanda will not reimburse for any laptops purchased elsewhere.

Volunteers must be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. While people in Rwanda may be generally tolerant, their values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be more conservative than those in some parts of the U.S. In Rwanda, disclosing LGBTQIA+ identities, while not illegal, can result in ostracism. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training and identify support mechanisms for Volunteers throughout service.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Rwanda: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Couples are welcome. You will be assigned to the same school or two neighboring schools. However, you can extend their work into 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 nearby primary or secondary school or a Teacher Training College.

During training and service, couples will live 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 children, or lack of, 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 their 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 you are away from site for a week or more while your partner 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.

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