A YEAR IN
Girls attend classes at Kiziguro Secondary School
why Plan works in Rwanda
• Enabling girls to enrol, attend and reach their full potential at primary and secondary school
• 45 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition • More than half of young men are unemployed
• Helping children under six to survive and thrive, and helping families and communities to promote children’s healthy development
• Only 13 per cent of girls attend secondary school
• Tackling unemployment and social and political disenfranchisement among young people • Boosting children’s participation at all levels of social discussion and decision-making
‘We learnt that given the opportunity girls can perform better than boys’
Students receive media training as part of the Youth Empowerment project UGANDA TANZANIA
Rwanda Facts Capital: Kigali Population: 10.7 million Languages: Kinyarwanda,
French, English and Kiswahili Climate: Temperate. There are two rainy seasons (February to April and November to January). It is mild in the mountains with occasional frost and snow.
Economy: Rwanda is a
poor rural country with about 85 per cent of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa and is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary foreign exchange earners are coffee and tea.
RWANDA Country Office Program Units
Focus On: girls’ education
Plan aims to help girls enrol at school and complete their education. We are helping girls to get a fairer deal from the education system through mentoring and special classes. We are also working to motivate impoverished and disadvantaged girls to continue in their education. Finally, we are
Only a fraction of girls in rural Rwanda go to secondary school. For many, education comes second to staying at home and helping to run the household. Frequently girls are pressured into getting married young. Yet education has proved to be a tool for empowering women throughout the world. And when women are educated, their children and their whole communities benefit immensely. That’s why Plan is targeting girls’ education as a central part of our program in the country. Mary, aged 17, is fairly typical of the girls we are trying to help. A promising computer science student, Mary is boarding at Kiziguro School in Gatsibo, north-east Rwanda. The school is one of Plan’s partners working to improve education for girls, and Plan has been working to make the school a friendly environment for girls and support them academically. Uncomfortable conditions Schools in Rwanda are mostly uncomfortable environments for female students. Lack of sanitary towels during menstruation has long been a hindrance for girls attending school, and there are often no facilities to wash themselves and toilets are often unpleasant or non-existent. Also, the sleeping arrangements at the school are often a problem. ‘My parents live in Nyagatare district at more than one and a half hours’ drive from Kiziguro Secondary School,’ says Mary. ‘The Kiziguro dormitory is the only place where I can stay for my studies and before this new building we used to sleep two people to a bed.’ Fortunately this all started to change last year. Plan helped Kiziguro Secondary School to construct a new dormitory building for girls with a capacity of 600. Mary is happy about other improvements to the school too, including basic new indoor lavatories and access to water from new rainwater catchment systems for washing.
Produced for Rwanda by Plan International Australia.
improving the quality of the education so schools are worthwhile and enjoyable places for children to be.
A meeting held as part of an Early Childhood Care and Development project in Murambi
The Bigger Picture New approaches pay off Aside from added infrastructure, the focus on education in Kiziguro puts emphasis on extra tuition so that girls whose education may have been neglected can catch up with the boys. In April 2009, Mary was one of 70 girls at the school who stayed behind in the holidays for extra tuition. While the main objective of the tuition was the improvement of skills in English, which has recently become the official language of Rwanda, Mary and her classmates also debated several cultural topics. During the week of extra classes, the girls learned to develop their opinions and improve their life skills. This tuition helped girls like Mary perform better in the following term. ‘We learnt that given the opportunity girls can perform better than boys,’ says Sarah, one other girl who took part. ‘I also discovered the potential in me when I took the seventeenth position out of 41 students.’ For Mary and her classmates, the biggest benefit of the improvements to the school has been a change in attitude towards what girls can achieve. They have taken part in new approaches to learning, including working in groups with other girls and mutually analysing and commenting on projects. Also, they have discussed crucial issues such as sexual harassment and learnt how to prevent it. Initiatives like this support girls and women of Rwanda to succeed and be an equal part of a peaceful society with opportunities for all.
Plan is working with children, families and communities to find sustainable solutions to the challenges in Rwanda. We have only given you a small insight into Plan’s work in Rwanda with this report but over the past year we also: • Reduced girls’ school drop-out rates through integration of gender issues in education and providing water and sanitation facilities to primary schools • Implemented a child protection program to improve opportunities for vulnerable children including those who are sexually exploited, child heads of households, or children orphaned by HIV/AIDS or genocide • Trained a range of adults with key skills including 580 agricultural workers, 88 health workers and 80 education workers • Activated the Youth Empowerment through Arts and Media project to provide space and tools for young people to engage with their peers across the world Your support as a sponsor is crucial to achieving these results. With the resources provided by sponsors, Plan expertise and the collaboration of communities and local partners we are making a big difference to the lives of people in Rwanda. Thank you for your involvement!
To learn more about Plan’s work in Rwanda visit plan.org.au/ourwork/southernafrica/rwanda
Some names have been changed for child protection and privacy reasons
‘Schools in Rwanda are mostly uncomfortable environments for female students.’
‘I look to the future and to the prospect of the expansion of Plan in Rwanda, and to the further development and transformation that Plan brings to the communities’ – Mamadou Kante, Plan’s Country Director in Rwanda