By Kaitlyn B.
Recently, Duxbury High School had the pleasure of getting to know two educators from Rwanda, Brother Crescent Karerangabo and Brother Straton Malisaba, Karerangabo being the principal and Malisaba the headmaster of The Byimana School of Sciences.
Throughout their short trip to Duxbury, they hoped to gather information on the school system here and apply them back home, along with a presentation they gave at the Duxbury Free Library on Feb. 27, where they discussed their approach to getting children off the streets and into schools, especially after the horrific genocide in Rwanda many years ago.
Their visit was especially important as a response to this tragedy 25 years ago, and its still prominent impact on the education system in their country.
“We have come over here to experience what is happening, as a response to what we intend to do in our country, a country where we have had many changes in the education system” explained Karerangabo, “We have been working on shifting to student centered-teaching.”
Malisaba, who visited Duxbury in 2012, making this his second visit, recalls the concepts he has been able to apply in Rwanda since then. He said, “I visited the school back in 2012 and I had a tremendous experience. The time I was there, the headmaster of the school met with me. Before that, I had made six trips, which helped me make some improvements in the schools. We made a lot of connections here, which were really beneficial to our school.”
“After my visit, we tried to introduce computers in the class, first for the teachers, so that the technology could be used as a tool to help [the teachers] explore better what we had to teach the students.” He continued, “It was really a very good investment that they made in our school. Later on, we founded the entrepreneurial academy, which was introduced in our school and spread to other schools, thanks to my trips here and to the exposure I had when I was [in Duxbury].”
Along with improving technology wise, the systems of bell schedules and teaching styles of staff at DHS is something Malisaba and Karerangabo hope to apply.
Karerangabo explained, “[Duxbury] has a system where the students move after each period from one class to the other. It’s different for us, as [our students] move in the same group. Throughout the day, the same group, the same people you see move to classes. You see teachers replacing each other right in front of you, [staying for] a maximum of two periods. It is something we hope to change back in Rwanda.”
Though they may be on the other side of the world, Byimana School of Sciences is just the same as any other school. As said by Karerangabo, “We have a similar high school like this one, it’s more or less the same, in terms of the levels. It’s a high school like this one, and every day there are activities. Something we took from here that we can use to improve our way of teaching, is our classes being active not passive.”
Thanks to the help of two members of the Duxbury community, Penny and Mike Herlihy, Karerangabo and Malisaba were able to make this trip a reality.
“Mike and I started going to Rwanda 15 years ago,” said Penny Herlihy, “Initially, we went and thought we were going to build a girls’ school, but we met Brother Malisaba who was the Rwandan Liaison, and we went to see his school, Byimana School of Science, and basically fell in love.”
Duxbury High School sent microscopes to Rwanda, as well as acting as an inspiration for the education system Malisaba and Karerangabo ran, as after the genocide, education there suffered.
Karerangabo, who was just a child then, explained, “I had to finish [grade 7] from my school. By then, not everyone was lucky enough to go to high school, and I did not have that chance. The genocide came in when I was a boy at home, and unfortunately it took both of my parents, my sister and my younger brother. I had these troubles, and the school felt that I could not proceed the way I was going. I had to go back to [grade 5].”
“At that stage, because of the genocide, most of the students needed sponsorships to attend, and a lot of the students could be 20 years old and in 8th grade” explained Penny Herlihy, “because of the war, they had not been in school for years and years, so we came home and started a sponsorship program talking to friends, people in Duxbury, another teacher out in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and over the years we put through 600 students and helped them with their tuitions.”
At the time, when Penny and Mike first visited the school, there were about 850 students, girls and boys.
The current cost for a room and board at The Byimana School of Sciences, thanks to the hard work of the sponsors for these students, comes to just under $400.
Karerangabo expressed his hope to make a change back at Byimana after this experience.
He said, “We have taken some steps and have started, so we felt it would be good to see what is happening on the other side of the world. You are of course advanced, so we are picking up some of the things that we can implement on our site.”
In a few years, Malisaba and Karerangabo want to make another step ahead. They feel that after applying what they’ve learned on this trip, and furthering what Malisaba already discovered from his 2012 experience, they can move towards what they are heading to.
This story was originally published in the Duxbury Clipper on March 27, 2019.