Photography: Online Learning URCE by Azeb Tadesse
UNIVERSITY OF RWANDA.
TRANSFORMING WOMEN'S EDUCATION
The project introduced eLearning as a vehicle for increasing access to advanced studies for women and those in under served areas unable to participate in more traditional learning programs. The the partnership created a custom made online learning platform, provided training to e-learning officers, and provided laptops and Internet access to all enrolled students. Watch the video to see the impact on women.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Rwanda-College of Education (UR-CE), under the auspices of the Women’s Leadership Program funded by USAID, partnered in a project that focused on fostering strategies that promote gender awareness in education. The project was conceived as a partnership, where the basis of engagement was equal responsibility and sharing of experience. Partners worked on building the institutional capacity of UR-CE and its affiliated Teacher Training colleges to expand and enhance the quality of faculty research and provide data to inform that informs policies and procedures in order to impact issues of gender equity in education. During the three-year life-cycle of the project, partners accomplished set objectives and served over a thousand participants. Moreover, the project was able to surpass the threshold of 33% female participation, a challenging accomplishment as women are not well represented at the tertiary education level in the country. Project activities included:
Diversifying learning and training by integrating technology
Targeted outreach and awareness programs
Creating gender-sensitive curricula
Promoting gender-sensitive research approaches and projects
Conducting institutional capacity building activities
CAPACITY BUILDING TRAINING
Capacity building focused on strategic planning and change management. Training offered targeted heads of departments and deans and focused on understanding the steps in the development of an effective and feasible strategic plan such as formulating and articulating institutional priorities and securing resources required to achieve them. A second major focus for deans and department heads was to increase their leadership capacity to manage strategic planning processes for their units.
DATA MANAGEMENT TRAINING
Capacity building on data management and developing inter-relational data bases and reports was supported by the UCLA Institutional Research Office which provided URCE planning staff with an overview of their operations and hands-on training on creating reports from existing institution data sets. Training provided many insights on in how to capture greater information of importance to planning and to streamline reporting processes.
Capacity building of trainers on successful mentoring strategies. The training focused on how to reach out to under-served students and how to utilize mentors to support and retain students in an educational program. The workshops focused on the essential components of a student outreach plan and peer mentorship programs. Participants were Teacher Training College super mentors and they were provided with a mentorship handbook to help them train others and continued their service.
As part of the adolescent reproductive health component, a manual was developed for trainers based on the new adolescent reproductive health curriculum. The project conducted workshops where teachers from across Rwanda and faculty from URCE and its affiliated Teacher Training Colleges discussed a range of issues faced by young adults and ways available to provide support within the local context. The goal of the program was to foster a teacher developed approach on reproductive health instruction as well as methods to provide positive support for the emotional, physical, and cognitive development of the students in their classrooms. The project used these engagements to develop a socially sensitive yet comprehensive adolescent reproductive health curriculum to train trainers to deliver a culturally appropriate course to students.
An e-Learning pilot program in the Post Graduate Degree in Primary Education program provided a flexible learning environment, thereby increasing access to advanced training by women and others unable to participate in traditional learning programs. The project developed an e-Learning platform called URCE-Connect, trained e-Learning officers at URCE, and delivered a fully functioning platform to the University.
GENDER RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The project organized a four-day training for senior URCE researchers on incorporating gender into their research. Training provided background on gender research methodologies as well as insight and resources on how gender concepts can be incorporated into research in a variety of disciplines. At the end of workshop, participants were eligible to participate in a grant competition.
The project conducted a research grant competition, Integrating Gender Research Grant, to enable faculty at URCE to integrate gender into their existing or new research. The grant supported an examination of the role of gender within a broader research question in any discipline. Successful applicants were those that were able to integrate gender into their primary research topic/theme. Six projects were awarded and the preliminary findings of their research were presented at the “Gender Spectrum: Bridging Theory and Practice” symposium.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY WORKSHOP
The project conducted a workshop on research methodology which provided targeted training to faculty on data gathering, analysis, and how to build on a research question. More time was devoted to building research models as well as interpreting data and findings to assist participants in their ongoing research projects. Participants were provided with a booklet on available research funding from organizations around the world as well as a booklet on how to develop policy briefs based on research findings.
The Outreach component of the Women’s Leadership Program consisted of a series of meetings held throughout various districts in Rwanda. The intent of the forums was to raise awareness about the importance of female education and targeted community, religious, and national leaders in Rwanda. Outreach meetings were conducted in five districts: Musanze, Nyabihu, Rusizi, Kayonza, and Kigali. Elected, religious and community leaders participated in leading discussions on being proactive in advocating for female empowerment in their communities.