The power of language training: Enhancing confidence & employability for 10k+ learners in Rwanda

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Rwanda Header Award

Since 2020, Hult EF Corporate Education has been working closely with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Mastercard Foundation on an ambitious project: to deliver language and skills training for the tourism and hospitality sector in Rwanda.

Having now helped train over 10,000 learners in Rwanda, Hult EF took home the prestigious Learning Technologies’ 2023 Gold Award for best project in the public & non-profit sector. In the words of the Learning Technologies team:

The judges were blown away by this ground-breaking project which supports thousands of learners in Rwanda. This project demonstrates excellence in learning design & technology, adapting the existing platform to the needs of Rwandan learners. Whilst the data spoke realms, the stories shared showed the life-changing impact on individual lives & careers.

Project overview

In 2008, Rwanda changed its national language from French to English as part of a strategic decision to drive growth, innovation, and international cooperation. As a result, developing English language proficiency and communication skills became a critical challenge and a major milestone across the country – and human capital development is now a cornerstone to make Rwanda’s Vision 2050 a reality.

Rwanda statistics

The tourism and hospitality industry is key in this vision, as the sector plays a crucial role in job creation and is a pillar of the economy in Rwanda. And, although Rwanda is determined to provide world-class service, the language gap remains a key challenge to realize this promise.

Therefore, this project – led by RDB, the Mastercard Foundation, and Hult EF – aims to deliver nationwide English, communication and hospitality skills training to upskill 30,000 young workers in the tourism & hospitality industry, to achieve the goal of raising employability skills, creating improved career opportunities and boosting the sector overall.

The customized program for Rwanda

In order to achieve the kind of reach and results necessary across Rwanda, the main delivery mode for assessment and training selected was a highly customized version of our award-winning online school – Language Live. The school is available on all devices 24/7 and includes on-demand group and private teacher-led classes, our revolutionary immersive online classroom Hyperclass, and thousands of hours of self-study content. The online school is also translated into Kinyarwanda, Rwanda’s national language, for those learners who are complete beginners.

All learners have access to a 12-month teacher-led English program. Beyond English proficiency and communication skills, Hult EF also created customized business and industry course content which equips staff with knowledge about Rwanda’s richness as a tourism and corporate events destination. Learners are also encouraged to complete nine ‘Destination Rwanda’ modules that improve work-readiness and employability skills across functions and sectors in different regions.

Exceeding language proficiency goals

The overall learning strategy has been highly effective, as learners have achieved an extraordinary improvement of 3.2 EF levels (over 1 full CEFR level) in English proficiency through the program in a single year. To put this in perspective, EF sets a global standard goal of improving English proficiency by 1 EF level in 12 months.

Our data demonstrates that although the average learner’s starting level was 7.6 (CEFR B1), and the minimum English proficiency target for students was 8.6 (CEFR B1), learners achieved well beyond the English proficiency target, achieving EF level 10.8 (CEFR B2).

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Improved career opportunities

Participants are invited to share feedback via a survey, and 51% of survey respondents have reported improved working conditions since starting the program and confirm the program contributed to this change.

Additionally, many participants gained new or improved career opportunities, some even starting their own businesses, following the program.

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Boosted confidence in communication

The survey also revealed that the number of participants who are very confident in language and communication skills after the program almost quadrupled, and employers confirm that employees show increased confidence communicating in English.

Both employers (88%) and learners (84%) also feel the program improved work performance, and - as the above video testimonials have also shown - both also agree that the learners’ employability is improved by gaining the EF Program Certificate.

Rwanda Project Statistics 2

With these results, and ongoing investment in new technologies to continually improve the program for Rwandan learners, we look forward to continuing to release their capacity to drive positive change for themselves and the Rwandan economy.

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