At Rwanda Girls Initiative we are proud of the incredible staff that give their heart, time, and talent each day to help our Gashora Girls reach their highest potential. Theophile Habiyambere is our Deputy Head of School and Director of Academics at Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST). Theophile is responsible for all aspects of teaching and learning and implementing the educational philosophy of the school and promoting a culture of best practice. We are so proud of our leadership team, including Theophile, who have created a community of teachers and staff who continually seek to learn and grow and see challenges as opportunities. Our teachers and staff have worked above and beyond to meet the needs of our students and continue teaching while our students are at home. He took some time out of his busy schedule to share how our staff and students have transitioned to online learning.
Gashora Girls Academy closed last month. Schools around the world have had to pivot to e-learning. How has this transition been for Gashora?
The transition to distance learning for GGAST, like for many schools, has not been without challenges, however it has not been impossible. Most of our challenges stemmed from our students who come from different parts of the country not being able to access reliable internet and devices to connect with their teachers and classmates. We have managed to tackle this issue with the support of various initiatives by service providers and the GGAST’s support to families that need it. The rest has quite smooth.
GGAST has been inundated with requests from non Gashora students asking to join our e-learning! Congratulations. How are you making this all work? Are you using a variety of platforms? What is your secret of success?
This is true. We have had several requests from students from other schools to join our distance learning and we are currently exploring ways to support our wider community in the education space. One way we have responded to the call is by providing access to some of our lessons through our newly launched YouTube channel.
The secret to our success is our investment in developing the ICT skills of teachers and students in every area of learning.
How have the teachers transitioned to this new platform?
Our transition to the e-learning has been as smooth as one could hope. This has largely been possible because of the commitment and effort of our fantastic team of teachers. Over the years GGAST has been intentional in investing in teacher professional development. A big part of our skills development program has been in ICT. All of our teachers, regardless of the subject they teach, have been provided opportunity to grow their knowledge and skills in ICT tools which can be used in the classroom to increase interaction and participation of the students. With this exposure they have been in a better position to seamlessly transition to teaching remotely.
Can you share any successes and inspirational stories during this these unusual times?
What has been inspiring to witness is how the whole GGAST family came together to deal with our new situation as a result of COVID-19. Nobody in our team said distance learning could not be done. My colleagues on the leadership team immediately began to see which students would need some support in order to benefit from the planned distance learning program. Teachers began to brainstorm on the platforms we could use to connect and teach students. They quickly came up with ideas like a school YouTube channel and began to develop lessons in a way that would consider the very limited resources available to some of our students. It has been good to see the teacher’s hard work over the years to learn and implement more ICT tools in their lessons have paid off. We know that we are truly an unstoppable team that has a heart for education development and growth in Rwanda.
Would you share how you came to GGAST and what you have learned?
I started working with Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST) in 2013 as a part-time math teacher. In 2015 I was promoted to be the Director of Academics in. I have a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Rwanda, College of Education. I also have a degree in Science with Education from the same University.
Working in a socio-economic diverse school has taught me that being successful does not depend on how wealthy or not your family is. It is not about your place of origin; it is simply about your goals, and how you are committed to achieve them. Our students inspire and teach me each day with their enthusiasm and innovation. They are self-driven, responsible and motivated!
Working in an environment where students are hungry for knowledge, skills and competencies has put me in a position to look for more qualified, capable, and self-driven teachers. It has also made me to expand the type of Professional Development Programs we provide to our teachers so they can help teach these young and talented girls from all of Rwanda to reach their highest potential.
As a technology school, I am always trying to assist both teachers and students to use ICT tools in class and outside the class. Students, together with their mentor teachers, are all engaged in different projects such as robotics, web design, app design to mention but a few. This is a result of hard work, dedication and teamwork between admin, teachers and students. I am proud that GGAST is leading the way in technology, not only in Rwanda, but also in Africa.
- Online Learning