Empowering teachers in the digital era

Four questions on digital education: Interview with Astrid Genard and Tom Ntambara, education experts
digital skills, e-learning
Africa, Rwanda

Astrid Genard and Tom Ntambara are both education experts within Enabel's Digital for Development (D4D) team and work for the RESICODI Action. From interactive online courses, blended learning and offline systems. They tell us about some of the innovative approaches that have been taken on when it comes to digital learning in Rwanda.

1. You are both education experts within Enabel's D4D — Digital for Development — team. Can you tell us what your role consists of?

Astrid Génard: I am an expert in digital tools and lifelong learning. It means that I work on various trainings with teachers to develop digital skills but part of my work is also improving pedagogical skills through digital tools.

Tom Ntambara: As Learning Management System Specialist, I work on a variety of technical aspects in digital education. I am in charge of improving and maintain server performance but also managing the structure of the LMS to make sure roles and categories are relevant. I provide technical support to my colleagues but also for all users of the LMS. Last but not least I am also in charge of developing learning resources on the use of the platform for different roles such as students and teachers.

2. Is there any innovative approach that is tackled by Enabel? What is specific to those activities?

A.G.: One of the most constructive aspect, from my opinion is the way we integrate teachers in their own learning process. For example at the IPRC Kitabi, some teachers are intensively following trainings on the creation of their own interactive courses online, on blended learning and the use of digital tools. The aim for then is to become experts and being focal point for their colleagues. We see that it not only give support in developing their digital skills but it also tremendously increases collaboration with their colleagues.

T.N.: We try to take into account the realities faced by participants and partners to ensure that we deliver the most viable plan possible in the long term. For example, we encourage the use of offline systems and we use little resources to disseminate the knowledge to all, by training digital champions, proving them with training materials to assist others.

3. You have just spent three days organizing a workshop at IPRC Kitabi. How do you feel? What did you learn?

A.G.: Seeing the teachers working together, focusing during hours, sharing their ideas and rethinking on the way some topics can be taught brings me a lot of joy. I hope that their commitment will receive the recognition it deserves.

T.N.: First of all, I have been delighted to organise this workshop with the rest of the education team. I am really impressed to see the collaboration and engagement from the participants. I can see how trainings are now successful and will be implemented on the long term at the IPRC Kitabi.

4. What are the long-term expectations? What do you expect within the next few months?

A.G.: I have to say that, from my opinion, projects often focus on delivery and reaching specific objectives. Nevertheless, the human aspect of the work is crucial. From what I see, teachers now feel empowered and confident to use the solution. I hope that RESICODI in Rwanda will inspire other education programs on how to work directly with the teachers to reach objectives while empowering them.

Besides, I also want to point out that digital skills trainings cannot be standardised but need to be adapted to each context and trainee. I hope the program can be considered as a pilot and be scaled up in Rwanda with the other IPRCs. I am really enthusiastic but with patience and some optimism these teachers could even become vector of change in Rwanda.

T.N.: I really hope that, together with partners, we will be able to keep putting efforts and resources into ICT for education. Having a qualitative education is the source of transformation for a society.

"Digital skills and qualitative education can lay the foundation for further positive evolution" – Tom Ntambara, Learning Management System Specialist, Enabel