Based on their level of education, thirty-six volunteer LSAs were hired and support children with special education needs in their learning. Each LSA supports about 6 children. They are men and women who have Kinyarwanda language skills (reading, writing and speaking). They are all educated (preferred completed at least 3 years of secondary school), most of them have past teaching experience (unqualified), they have Flexibility, open mind, willingness to try new things. They have strong understanding of child development and the needs of children (Received through trainings given by the EmCD’s projects). Also they have sensitivity to disability issues (open mind, willingness to learn).
They have received 5 days initial training and more refresher trainings and they were initially trained on Rwandan education realities (beliefs on impaired student, how schools are looking today, expectations, etc), LSAs’ responsibilities at schools, Communication techniques and strategies/managing conflict, child development (normal landmarks), knowledge of impairments, teaching vs. learning (the connection), learning styles, multi-sensory teaching, questioning techniques (it’s ok to make mistakes/not know the answer), assessment and Evaluation techniques. For refresher trainings, the organisation plan according to field needs assessed during field visits or received from LSAs monthly and termly reports.
Generally LSAs support children to improve their independence and social skills (learning and life skills) : self-regulatory, safety, development of their learning skills and development of life skills. They provide personal and physical support (feeding, toileting, moving around the classroom and school grounds, situations that might be unsafe for a student and manage the situation and other personal and physical support needs as they arise). And mainly, they provide learning support services (learning materials, one-to-one or small group learning opportunities for students, breaking of tasks into smaller, more manageable and achievable pieces, transfer of skills to various environments, etc. They also provide support on development of children’s communication (advocating and communicate children’s problems to different people who can help) and they provide social support like pens, notebooks and other materials from advocacy made.
Being assisted by EmCD educationalist team, LSAs assess different strength and needs of children. To assist them in learning, LSAs manage to sit with children in classrooms and be the second instructors to them according to any learning problems met. They shifted classrooms of children under support following teaching/learning timetable and what course the child struggles in. They help children in copying, reading and understanding teachers’ instructions. For more explanations to children and free revisions, LSAs agreed with children on extra time like in break hours through learning by playing or during weekends. LSAs also have to support children in social life and assess children’s family problem for more advocacy. That is why they spend only 3 days assisting children at schools then use other two days paying visits to children at their home for motivating children for home activities and discuss with parents on learning of their children.
LSAs’ activities are monitored after of working 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months and at the end of 2 years. A variety of tools have been designed to monitor the LSA scheme. These include : Interviews, focus groups, observation checklists, learning outcome reports, pre/post training questionnaires and teacher follow-up observations. Key stakeholders are consulted and/or monitored : LSA’s, target children, teachers, other children and Parents of children under LSAs support. All done activities are reported monthly and termly and immediately for social and child protection cases.