School Leaders’ and Teachers’ Preparedness to Support Education in Rwanda during the COVID-19 Emergency
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Rwandan schools were closed in March 2020; they started to reopen in November 2020. To understand the Rwandan schools’ level of preparedness to teach remotely during this unprecedented emergency, and for the eventual return to school, we conducted phone surveys with school leaders and teachers in 298 secondary schools in August 2020. Drawing from knowledge mobilization theory and quantitative data, our results indicate that there were gaps in school leaders’ and teachers’ access to technology and training, and a lack of preparedness that could inform policy and practice in future emergencies. Our findings reveal that, before the pandemic, the male teachers in Rwanda had more access than the female teachers to both technological devices and online experience, and that the teachers from well-resourced schools were more likely than teachers from regular schools to own some kind of device to use for teaching. We found that the teachers whose school leaders had received guidance on how to continue education during the school closures were more likely to receive their support. Two additional findings were that younger teachers were more likely than the older ones to support their students during the school closures, and that the school leaders and teachers we surveyed believed that students from low-income families and rural areas benefited the least from remote learning. These findings indicate that, in Rwanda, the level of preparedness to support schooling during the COVID-19 emergency was negatively affected by preexisting and ongoing inequalities in access to both material and nonmaterial resources.
The authors discuss their work in the Behind the Pages podcast episode embedded below: