RENCP General Meeting Minutes – 9.9.2011 (Draft)

1)    Welcome and opening remarks were given by Peter (Plan International Country Director)
•    He emphasised that a forum such as RENCP is only as strong as it member organisations. Both in the numbers of organisations who commit to join and in the level of their participation.
•    He also emphasised the benefit of the RENCP for member organisations and Rwanda. Reminding us that we are all concerned about improving the life of the children we individually and together seek to serve.

2)    The history and background as well as how to join and some expectations of membership were shared by Jeffery Komant (Wellspring Country Director).
•    Membership can be gained by contacting the Chair and cc the Co Chair organisations with your request for participation. A ‘membership profile form’ should also be completed; these are attainable from the website www.rencp.org
•    RENCP is an open and free membership. There may in the future be a desire for annual membership fees but currently there is no cost to the member organisations.
•    RENCP may also develop a Code of Conduct but for now Active Membership should entail:
– Information sharing and communication
– Code of conduct/ position
– Integrity – in order to ensure we foster trust and learn from each other – sharing and enhancing power. Being prepared to share about other organisations working in your field and giving credit for the work and efforts they are doing not acting as a lone player. Sometimes it can be tempting to hide others for personal benefit but within the RENCP we value and appreciate the work and efforts of our colleagues in serving Rwandan children, and schools communities.
-  Complimentarily – linking and working together.  Not recreating initiatives or resources but sharing and learning from one another’s experiences and resources. Learning from one another.

-    Activity – being an active member of the RENCP. The working groups are the most conducive forum for this and their success is based on members’ commitment and participation. Please get involved in a working group as this is business end of the equation for RENCP.

-    Consistency – of representation at all levels of RENCP forums and groupings. When there is inconsistency of presence and representation it slows down the progress of information and sharing. If organisations could nominate one consistent point person for RENCP and when they may miss a meeting then someone is appropriately updated and informed of current developments.

3)    The day’s agenda was then presented by Alfred (Plan International)

4)    Equity and Inclusion Working Group presentation by Esther (ADRA)

•    Questions:
-A request was made for clarification on the SEN mapping exercise that was carried out. It was explained that the mapping exercise was purely in SEN/Inclusion interventions in the areas where known interventions were in place.
-Challenges working with Sector Administration when they have had a desire to do data collection regarding OVCs (Save Children) – how to help local government officials collect info for OVS?
The mapping exercise for SEN/Inclusion was done by VSO volunteers who then linked with ‘on location’ volunteers (who may have had working relationships with sector or district administration).
Kirsten (Wellspring) shared about Concern’s practise in Huye where PTCs were used to help data/statistical collection in partnership but on behalf of the administration.
-John (MVP) asked if this mapping activity has helped to avoid duplication of work; where previously different organisations were working in the same areas and schools. Has it helped avoid duplication? (Handicap) responded by saying that previously there was no coordination but that this has since been helped.
-Esther (ADRA) shared about MINALOC and MINISANTE research and information in this area. Sara (VSO) was a little dubious about the accuracy and credibility of this information.

5)    Visitor from Rwanda Union of the Blind (presentation)

6)    USAID update on project by David (USAID)
i)    Education strategy to promote literacy- improved literacy
•    ‘Literacy, Language and Learning’
•    Grant won by ECD who and program will begin early next year
•    Teachers taught how to teach reading and impart literacy skills
•    Will be using ICT and innovation – hoping to use the radio as a tool to help teachers
ii)    Work force development
•    Equipping youth with the appropriate skills to make them employable
•    Especially working with youth out of school

7)    Community Involvement Working Group presentation by David (Concern)

8)    Teacher Development Working Group presentation by Kirsten (Wellspring)
•    Questions:
-KIE involvement and partnership? It was explained that it there is a partnership and working relationships with KIE. In fact members of the group have been approached by KIE to help with the review of the Primary Teacher Training Curriculum.
-Special needs amending of the curriculum too. This point was noted by the priority of it lies with the Equity and Special Needs working group although point was taken that SEN is everyone’s message.
-Wording of JRES /government recommendation – ‘reduce’ curriculum was questioned. Wording could be adjusted but it is also important to note that we as civil society need to speak the truth and reality of what we mean to ensure accurate feedback to government.
-Hugh (Unicef) highlighted the importance of timing and appropriate placing of questions during event like the JRES. He encouraged the recognition among attendees and the RENCP that some questions may be better asked in a different forum. He suggested that budget execution would be one place to ask some of the questions that may have been raised.

9)    ECD Working Group  presentation by Wendy (Save the Children)
•    Questions:
-The question was raised, ‘is there not child development and learning outside and prior to formal schooling and the classroom?’ especially in Rwanda. It was acknowledged that indeed this was the case but that there needed to be more of a consistent and comprehensive approach and that the Ministry of Education has articulated Early Years as (ages 3-6).
-Hugh (Unicef) highlighted that other ministries should be involved and mobilized to work in early years – they have budget lines and provision for early childhood development. In fact there is more budget for this in the Ministry of Health and MINIPROF (?) than in Education. This responsibility should not lie solely with MINEDUC. He prompted the questions: ‘Is education expected to fund care givers? Is that right?’

A brief overview was given by the representative present for youth (WHO??) concerning – GEAR
* focus on girls’ education in youth
* should be involved in supporting school
* implemented through national youth councils at decentralized level

10)    Girls Ed TASK force presentation was given by Pacific (FAWE)
•    Questions:
-David (Concern) asked about the follow up and continuation of the Sanitary Pad campaign
– David (Concern) also highlighted the issue of the high pregnancy rates in girls
-Hugh (Unicef) shared that there was clear articulation of the challenges but not clear research or plans for moving forward in Girl’s Education. He highlighted the need for research in Girls’ Education and the issues and solutions that could move it forward. For example, the few number of girls passing in division one in the national exams.
– Ruth (VSO) highlighted that these issues are perhaps even more hidden than we realise as there is already a preferential (lower) pass rate threshold for Girls than Boys in the national examinations.
-  David Rugaju (Concern)/Donatila Kanimba (Union of the Blind) highlighted that PTC motivation and involvement of girls is important because there are many cultural issues surrounding girls’ education
– Pacific closed by encouraging participation from civil society in the girls’ TASK force; simply write a letter of interest to the Ministry.

11)    Quality Working Group presentation by Ruth (VSO)
•    Overall not much work has been done by the Quality Education WG, other than the preparations for Novembers Summit.
•    A key appeal has been made by the Quality Working group for NGOs to source and fund a speaker for the conference who has experience in ‘Using Teaching and Learning Material Effectively’.
•    Another key appeal was made for the provision of Reading Books (Readers, general etc) in support of the Rwanda Reads campaign. A campaign to promote literacy in Rwanda, in Kinyarwanda and English.
•    Questions:
-Jeffery (Wellspring) asked about the possibility, for the sake of accountability and shared responsibility of the presence of a second NGO being present on this committee? He also requested clarification on the Quality Education Summit in November. Having heard that it was going to be a regional conference/show case with international speakers he wanted to know if it was going to have sufficient scope to address the quality issues in Rwanda’s education system.
-Hugh (Unicef) assured that there would be working time on the issues of quality in Rwanda. He also stated that there did not seem to be a need for another NGO to be represented on that working group and that at present partners were waiting for Ministry to take the lead and initiative within this working group. The desire is that it be driven by government not by groups such as this.
-Kirsten (Wellspring) requested some more background and information about ‘Rwanda Reads’.
-Hugh (Unicef) clarified that the strategy will be set in place for the beginning of next year. Some of the strategies will include equipping teachers to help children to read, a reading slot in the timetable and other initiatives that will promote a reading culture. There is hope of coordinating initiatives already in place or planned ones – eg. Imbuto Foundation and President’s support. Thus there will need to be; 1) access and availability to relevant books, 2) which involves creating a demand for reading and 3) strategy for capacity/implementation (eg: 10% of the budget on books…)

12)    Development Partner comments from Hugh (Unicef)
•    Praise for partnership with Ministry and each other (better coordination and partnership than he has seen in other sectors, especially with Ministry acceptance); the ministry is noticing the positives and benefits of the RENCP and its members. MINEDUC is recognising RENCP as a helpful partner.
•    Good leadership key to its success.
•    Working Groups are key to the overall success of the RENCP.
•    Unicef also values and appreciates this forum because it helps them to have more information from the ground level and what is actually the situation at the grass roots level.
•    Key challenges for RENCP partners to think about:
i)    Funding gap. The EESP is very ambitious and especially with the 12 YBE.
ii)    The push for 12 YBE will also have implications for quality and there so the RENCP members will be crucial. Especially in a context of scarce resources.
iii)    Continuing to pursue the ECCD agenda since MINEDUC have a very small percentage of the budget. ECCD agenda is fundamental in getting rid of inequality.
iv)    Doing research that is evidence based to help the different agendas and to provide good information from the grass roots. The need to monitor the grass roots. Have RENCP speak with one voice with feedback from the ground/field work.
v)    Quality is a key issue and remains a central priority amidst all the developments. We need to focus on the foundation!
vi)    It is important to be constructively vocal on the key issues.
vii)    UNICEF sees its partnership with the RENCP as strategic. In Rwanda there are no field offices and it is difficult for UN staff to know what is really happening on the ground. It believes in a strong partnership with the RENCP in order to gain credible feedback. It can commit its support but as yet is unable to commit to any financial obligations.
•    The next EESP will begin July 2012 as this one ends June 2012. Thus the process will begin after the JRES with government and Development Partners (Donors) on evaluating the progress made on EDPRS1, it will be a collaborative effort. There is a plan to have an Inception workshop in October and the process forward will be to flag challenges and key priorities moving forward.
•    Hugh ended with a further encouragement to ask strategic questions at strategic times during the JRES.

13)    There were then introductions of new/late arrivals

14)    Alfred from Plan then closed the day’s proceedings

Read the Working Groups Presentations:

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