Overcoming challenges to quality whatever the cost | impact story from Ecole Primaire Gisozi II

Ecole Primaire Gisozi II is a primary school located in Gisozi sector, one of the sectors in the urban zone of Gasabo district. With 23 teachers and up to 1846 students, this school is one of the schools that Wellspring supports in its journey towards the empowerment of schools through the development of quality education and school leadership. Despite the challenging landscape of the school (the school name “Gisozi” means “big mountain) and its poor soil of the location, the school has done considerable efforts to higher its school standards to the extent of capturing the attention of the community, and local government partners. Most of public schools that are supported by Wellspring are characterized by overcrowded classrooms. And Gisozi is not the exception to this reality. Yet, the school teachers have displayed a strong will and commitment to ensure that all the children are cared for accordingly and that quality is the priority of the school. So what was the secret used by the school to ensure that this situation does not remain a barrier to quality? Meet Mamille Mukangemanyi and Immaculee Twendeleye
Headmistress Mamille (left) and her deputy Immaculée (right)

Headmistress Mamille (left) and her deputy Immaculée (right)

Mamille and Immaculee serve as school headmistress and deputy headmistress respectively. Mamille and Immaculee are vibrant leaders whose passion is to ensure that education quality is in place “whatever the cost”. And although they know that they can count on the support of Wellspring’s trainers, who have continued to empower their teachers in this process of transformation, the journey has not been straightforward. “One of the biggest challenges we have been encountering was the difficulty encountered by most of our teachers in their interactions with a big number of children in their classrooms. But with the support and the coaching from Wellspring’s trainers, we learned how to engage our children in groups to make sure that we give the maximum chance to all our students to participate actively in their learning. We also developed strong students’ behavior management skills as managing such crowded classrooms isn’t easy. We learned to care and to love our children in a very deep way so that they can joyfully collaborate in their own learning. Not by constraint. But with joy”, Mamille said. Another important component of the remarkable change the school has experienced as a result of Wellspring’s investment is the adoption and the implementation of sound teaching practices required to have quality education fostered: “Unlike in previous years where our teachers could come start a lesson without having planned it accordingly, today lesson planning is a key and nonnegotiable activity of all our teachers. We ensure that all the lessons are planned consistently and that values are integrated in the lesson. This has helped our children have a clear understanding of what is taught, so that they can relate to it in their own lives. This has raised our students’performancein a significant way. The journey is still long but we are determined to make it a culture in our school” Mamille added. Immaculee Twendeleye is the Deputy School headmistress and she tells how Wellspring trainers have helped their teachers acquire skills in the design of relevant teaching aids, as well as in other more compelling pedagogical practices.  like positive behavior management. “Wellspring has really played a transformational role in our school. Before we received Wellspring’s training, we believed in corporal punishment as the most persuasive way to manage the behavior of our students. We were wrong. Instead, we realized that positive behavior management based on authentic love for our students is what is needed. Inclusive education has also been an important area that needed to be developed. Wellspring has also taught us how we can help students work together with love and respect. This has synergized students’ relationships to the point that some proactively raised funds to buy clothes and soaps of their needy colleagues. We have also seen a change of attitude from our students, who are now voluntarily involved in the cleaning of their classrooms. This is the result of the integration of values in our lessons” Immaculee said.
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