The Rwanda Mentorship Community of Practice (MCOP) is a USAID-funded, FHI 360-implemented initiative to scale, institutionalize, and replicate a model for supporting Rwanda’s school-based mentors. As a result, mentors will be able to provide basic education teachers with the support they need to improve their pedagogical and English-language skills and provide a higher quality of education to all of Rwanda’s basic education students.
The rapid expansion of basic education from six to nine and now twelve years, and the switch from French to English as the medium of instruction, has led to strong demand for qualified basic education teachers in Rwanda. The School- Based Mentorship (SBM) initiative is a national initiative by the Government of Rwanda (GoR) to strengthen the quality of basic education instruction throughout the country.
MCOP began as a pilot program funded under the DfID Innovation in Education Fund in April 2013. The pilot program targeted 500 mentors, or half of all SBMs. It reached all 500 mentors, as well as an additional 400 educators. An endline evaluation of the pilot showed that MCOP resulted in improvements in peer learning and sharing of knowledge and resources among mentors. MCOP has also become the official communication channel of the SBM initiative, connecting mentors to the Rwanda Education Board (REB) and to other education interventions, such as the USAID Literacy, Language, and Learning (L3) program, as well as to each other.
MCOP will implement activities in four areas:
Activity area 1: Community scale-up
The MCOP platform consists of an online channel and a mobile channel. The purpose of the MCOP platform is to provide mentors with the resources, ideas, and motivation to provide excellent assistance to teachers. The online channel (www.mcop.rw) contains a discussion forum, digital library, news feed, and social media. The mobile channel separately pushes SMS tips and information designed to promote community participation and reinforce skills learned at face-to-face training. The online channel is also optimized for usage on web-enabled mobile phones. Activities in this area will scale MCOP to all mentors and district education officers (DEOs).
Activity area 2: Community sustainability
The sustainability of MCOP requires the active engagement of REB. Specifically, for MCOP to continue to provide value to in-service training in Rwanda, REB must value, have the capacity to maintain, and invest in maintaining the community. Secondarily, the sustainability of MCOP requires a critical mass of participation, with community moderation drawn from community members themselves rather than from FHI 360. Activities in this area will develop capacity with and for REB, and empower community champions.
Activity area 3: Literacy support
One of the primary goals of the SBM program is to improve teachers’ literacy skills. MCOP will support this goal in two ways. First, MCOP will partner with other education initiatives and organizations, including but not limited to the Literacy, Language, and Learning (L3) program, Rwanda Reads, British Council, International Education Exchange (IEE), Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO), and Peace Corps to identify, organize and collect digital literacy resources on the MCOP library. Second, the MCOP Literacy Specialist will provide literacy services directly to mentors and DEOs.
Activity Area 4: Community replication
MCOP is a platform to support SBMs, but it is also a model that can support other educator groups. Under this activity area, MCOP will sensitize Rwandan education institutions to the potential of replicating this model, and offer technical assistance and capacity development where there is interest in replicating it.
Mentors are currently an in-service teacher education mechanism. Whether they form the key population for in-service training or another group of instructors and educators form this population, the MCOP community of practice model can provide the resources, ideas, and motivation for this group to succeed.