Experience from a Rwandan teacher: Drama-Based Education in practice

Have you wondered what our new Drama-Based Education capacity development program in Rwanda might look like in practice?

Gilbert Bisengi, one of the Wellspring teacher-trainers whom our SUNY-Buffalo State delegation under the leadership of Prof. Drew Kahn certified in January, shared an incredibly inspiring email with us. While we had seen the impact of the curriculum in public schools in Buffalo and knew that it should also greatly benefit Rwandan teachers in theory, it was still difficult to predict how the Rwandan participants would receive and engage with such innovative teaching methods that are so very different to traditional pedagogy in Rwanda and most other countries. As such, you can maybe imagine how thrilled and honored we felt when reading Gilbert’s experience:


“Hi Professor Drew,

It has been a great blessing to have you here in Rwanda in such time as this; your teaching methods are incredible. I have learned a lot from you, and I’m now realizing how true and practical your methods are. I particularly agreed with your quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn”.

I realized the value when I was teaching a P4 Social Studies lesson about “tools used by a farmer”. I had been teaching this lesson for many years, but whenever I asked questions after the lesson, it was always so hard for children to remember what I taught them. In other words they would easily forget the lesson. But after applying your method, I was amazed how easy it became to teach the same lesson and especially also succeed not only in making them understand but also enjoy. I basically asked them to imagine that they were those machines and to come up with drama. When I then went back to the same school a few days later, it was heartwarming how happy the children were to see me and that they could easily remind me of what they had learned. This clearly showed me how traditional methods of fact memorizing must be replaced by drama-based education. How I wish I had a camera so that I could send some videos of the lessons I taught using the methods.

Blessings and love from Rwanda; I will never ever forget you!”

Gilbert’s experience shows what immense impact the Drama-Based Education curriculum can make in Rwanda and other countries. As we speak, Prof. Tim Shea of Millersville University in Pennsylvania is in the country to explore the opportunities for his university to join our efforts and to become the second university involved in the program. He and his colleagues have recently undergone the initial Drama-Based Education workshop led by Prof. Drew Kahn on their home campus. Drew himself will return to Rwanda this summer in order to build a stronger and more sustainable local base for the work. And we are already in conversation with several other universities who are interested to join with more delegations lining up for 2016.

Further interested partners are always welcome. If you would like to learn more and get involved, please contact us at programs@global-engagement.org.