Students from Cardiff Metropolitan University have returned from a visit to a school in Rwanda where they got to teach children in Welsh and also learn about the history, culture and different styles of education internationally.
During the two week visit, BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies students worked with children from the Educational and Cultural Parents’ School (ECPS) in Rwanda.
ECPS first opened in 2009 and was set up by parents who wanted their children to receive a better education than the state funded schools in the area. The school receives no state funding and relies on funding from parents and donors to buy books and equipment for the children to learn.
Gad Niyogushimwa a pupil at ECPS Primary School spoke of the visit: “I would like to thank you for coming to visit our school. Having you here for the week was so exciting and joyful. Thank you for bringing some of your students, we liked the way they taught us and they were kind. Please come again next year.”
Cardiff Met Uni recently raised over £3,000 for the ECPS school during a 24-hour walk; the money helped to build a kitchen which enabled children travelling from up to two hours away to stay in school for the entire school day.
Anais Rowlands, 21, from Caerphilly, is a third-year student on Cardiff Met’s BA (Hons) Primary School Studies course and attended the trip: “Travelling to Rwanda changed my perspective on life. I didn’t realise that learning and gaining new knowledge could be done with little resources such as singing or dancing. It has been memorable, an experience that will leave a mark on my heart. I return home with the souvenir of new bonds of friendship, a different outlook on life and the longing to return to this beautiful country and the people that have taught me so much about the value of education, kindness, and feeling content with one’s way of life. The highlight of this trip was meeting the children who gave such a warm welcome and made me feel like I was a part of their family, and soon enough the school felt like home.”
During the visit, the students also visited teacher trainee colleges in Rwanda and street children’s charities.
Emmanuel Sinayitutse, Headteacher at the ECPS School in Rwanda, said: “The visit was so important to our school, the students, school staff and the whole community enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to share teaching and learning experiences with Cardiff Met students. We thank the Cardiff Met University staff and whole team that visited for being in partnership with our school. Providing financial means, materials such as computers and books which will keep improving our practices for our children’s achievements.”
In 2022, Cardiff Metropolitan University’s, Global Opportunities team secured their first Taith funding application bid, the funding allowed students and staff to travel to Rwanda. Taith Wales is an international learning exchange programme who create opportunities to learn, study and volunteer all over the world. The University aims to deliver a culturally diverse and inclusive educational environment that equips students, staff and alumni to thrive as interculturally effective global citizens.
Dr Nick Young, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education Studies at Cardiff Metropolitan University, organised the trip: “The trip to Rwanda has been built upon the relationships we have developed with Rwandan schools over the past eight years. The students who attended this year exceeded our expectations and we couldn’t have been prouder of them. They all met every challenge with a smile and demonstrated resilience, determination, empathy and generosity, and it was a pleasure to see them develop during the visit.”
The visit to Rwanda is part of the BA (Hons) Primary School Studies undergraduate course module. The University previously visited the ECPS school in 2022 having been unable to visit beforehand due to the pandemic. The University will continue to work closely with the school in Rwanda, exploring collaborative research opportunities between the two countries which can be embedded into the undergraduate Primary School Studies course.
Nick continued: “We all went to develop learning in these Rwandan schools, but we walked away having learnt a great deal more from the Rwandan teachers and pupils. The slogan that greets you in Kigali airport reads, ‘Visit Rwanda’, but I don’t think we will ever leave; we will all take a part of Rwanda into all our future teaching.”