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Staying in school in Rwanda

I recently travelled to Rwanda to see Concern Worldwide's programmes in the country firsthand. During the trip, I saw some of the work being done to ensure children complete their primary education.

Rwanda is the most densely populated country in eastern Africa, with a population of over 10 million in an area the size of Munster. The country is making progress in improving the lives of its inhabitants but 60% of the population still live on less than a dollar a day. It is these people —the ones who have the least — that Concern is aiming to help.  

Parents and teachers

I visited Cyendajuru primary school in the Simbi sector, where Concern is working to ensure every child in the area has access to quality education. One focus of our work is to train parents to become members of parent teacher committees. When parents are directly involved with the school, their children are far less likely to drop out. If children do drop out, the committee speaks with them and tries to help them return to school. 

Meeting Alice

School was out for the summer during my visit, but a number of students came to welcome us. One of the students, Alice Dushimiyumurennyi, remembers Concern distributing uniforms to the community last year. However, Alice is unfortunately no longer at school. Living at home is a struggle, and her guardian — her older brother — says she must stay at home and work to provide food for the family.

Alice would love the opportunity to finish school. She said:

I like school, I studied hard. I'd like to become a doctor some day...I would love to finish my education and I dream of becoming a doctor so I can help people.

Under the guidance of principal Monique Niyitegeka, the committee will speak to Alice's brother and see if he will allow her continue at school.  

Breaking the cycle

Many children like Alice – especially girls – are forced to leave school because of situations like this. However, the work Concern is doing in the area is ensuring that an increasing number of children are able to finish school. 

 When it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty, the education these children receive is the most important tool they can get. Monique says the programme has significantly reduced the number of children dropping out.

There are many more children who now attend school and will have a better future thanks to Concern.