EF upskills tourism industry in Rwanda

As countries worldwide have assessed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the private and public sectors have found new and creative ways to help nations prepare for recovery and fortify their economies for the future. This is especially true in Rwanda, where a collaborative initiative is strengthening the local tourism and hospitality industry by boosting young Rwandans’ English proficiency, communication and hospitality skills.

Creating initial impact

For more than five decades, EF Education First has joined forces with leading organizations on the forefront of education and skills training, and in 2020, we announced a new partnership with the Rwanda Development Board and the Mastercard Foundation to offer a comprehensive training program for Rwanda’s tourism and hospitality industry. This initiative offers online English language trainings delivered through EF’s award-winning virtual English school, EF English Live, as well as hospitality skill training, which equips staff with knowledge about Rwanda’s richness as a tourism destination and offers education on executing world-class event and conference service.

EF’s program was implemented as part of Mastercard Foundation’s five-year Hanga Ahazaza (“Create the Future”) program, which focuses on increasing work opportunities for young people while expanding the Rwandan tourism and hospitality industry. EF has also worked closely with local partners, including the Rwanda Convention Bureau, the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority, and the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, to ensure a successful program.

Since May 2020, Phase 1 of the upskilling program has helped 2,000 Rwandans improve their language and hospitality skills, and early participant feedback has clearly shown how access to English language learning resources can empower and uplift tourism professionals:

  • "Studying with EF is important to me because I want to improve my abilities to speak, write, and read in English. Improving my English proficiency and my communication skills will allow me to better manage and lead my teams, express myself more effectively in meetings, and provide a higher level of customer service to our guests!” – Christian, food and beverage director

  • Thank you for lifting me up, not only as a Rwandese, but as a woman. I really needed that to be the woman I dream to be!” – Happy, hostess

  • The improvement I have made so far is life-changing! At first, I was afraid, but once I started, the pressure I felt went away, and my motivation to achieve my goal has increased tremendously.” – Vanessa, front office worker

  • I want to earn an international English certificate with EF because I know it will be better for my future. I don’t know where I’ll be next year or the year after, but I know this program will help me no matter what I choose.” – Teopista, control room operator

Expanding our reach

After the successful launch of Phase 1, EF will scale the program to an additional 4,500 learners in 2021.

Phase 2 will be even more accessible for participants by working with private sector partners such as Mara Phones and Airtel in a bid to increase accessibility and learner engagement. Mara Phones, which produces the first high-specification, affordable smartphone to be manufactured in Africa, will donate a Mara X phone to the two top-performing English language learning students who excel in EF’s program by participating in study hours, private lessons, and more. Airtel, Rwanda’s leading telecommunications provider, will waive data usage for EF’s app for a three-month pilot period, with potential to extend it for the entire program duration. These efforts will make English language learning more accessible and affordable for thousands of Rwandans nationwide.

“We’re thrilled to see how positively this important initiative has been received, and we’re looking forward to expanding this impact even further through Phase 2” said Carl-Johan Westring, President, Customized Solutions at Hult EF Corporate Education. “Access to English language education and technology is imperative for the success of Rwanda’s youth and tourism and hospitality sectors alike, and we’re grateful to play a role in such a critical, collaborative effort.”

Together with our partners, EF is proud to be a part of Rwanda’s recovery efforts, focusing on building a brighter future and helping to build the critical skills that employees and businesses require to innovate, grow and thrive in the 21st-century globalized economy.