Original Research

Learning to teach writing through a distance education programme: Experiences of Rwandan secondary school English teachers

Epimaque Niyibizi, Emmanuel Sibomana, Juliet Perumal
Reading & Writing | Vol 10, No 1 | a206 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v10i1.206 | © 2019 Epimaque Niyibizi, Emmanuel Sibomana, Juliet Perumal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 June 2018 | Published: 07 May 2019

About the author(s)

Epimaque Niyibizi, Department of Educational Leadership and Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa; and Department of Humanities and Language Education, School of Education, University of Rwanda-College of Education, Kigali, Rwanda
Emmanuel Sibomana, The Wellspring Foundation for Education, Kigali, Rwanda
Juliet Perumal, Department of Educational Leadership and Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Writing is among the most important skills, and globally it has received more emphasis in literature on language teaching than reading, speaking and listening. However, a paucity of studies is observed in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in contexts where English is being taught as an additional or foreign language, as is the case in Rwanda. Research shows that learners who can write well in different genres and for different purposes tend to do well in all curriculum subjects and subsequently beyond school education. The key challenges are the inadequacy of materials and teachers’ inability to teach writing well, especially through distance education programmes.

Objectives: This study investigates the effectiveness of materials used at the University of Rwanda-College of Education’s Distance Education programme to train high school teachers on writing pedagogy for English teaching.

Method: The study adopted a qualitative approach to report on the findings from textual, document analysis of distance education materials, argumentative essays and focus group discussions with 80 of 599 in-service teachers, who responded to designed and redesigned sections on writing pedagogy.

Results: The findings indicate that teachers’ knowledge and skills in both writing and writing pedagogy are not addressed effectively by the materials designed. This negatively affected the quality of their own writing abilities and those of their students.

Conclusion: The article recommends reconceptualisation of distance education materials to equip in-service teachers with propositional knowledge and procedural knowledge on writing pedagogy.


Writing pedagogy; distance education; English teachers; procedural knowledge; University of Rwanda’s College of Education.


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