News from Rwanda

The technical secondary school: A beacon of hope and optimism!

In every African village, a school is much more than just a place for learning and acquiring new knowledge and necessary education.  It is a place for hanging out, for getting together.  And, first and foremost, it is a guarantee of a change for the better and a place where neglected and forgotten people can thrive.

Our newly-built Secondary Technical School in Kivumu, in the heart of Rwanda, is one of those schools.  Built on a clearing at the village entrance, it represents a beacon of hope and optimism for the inhabitants of this and other neighbouring villages.

At first it all seemed like a dream to more than 30,000 inhabitants, as well as to us Franciscans, living alongside them.  But, the dream, which no one hardly dared to believe possible, suddenly became a plan!  And the ball started rolling...

Initially, a large donation by good and generous people made possible the first and crucial step: the preparation of the land the school was to be built upon.  However, that first donation did much more – it started an avalanche of goodness!  We then realized that we were not alone in our plans, and the achievement of the construction our school gradually became just a question of time.  A year and a half after the first shovel struck ground and the work on the foundation of our school began, the result was there for all to see - a new, beautiful and modern secondary school!

Last year in April, together with our donors, we officially celebrated the completion of the construction of the first phase of the school building.  It was a big event...... and a big day for Kivumu!

In the meantime, while we waited for the approval of the proposed curriculum by the Rwandan Government, we organized free English language courses for all who were interested.  And what follows now is most exciting.........it is what we have all lived for and what we have dreamed about for these past years - the school is now enrolling its first students!

As we look at this magnificent structure we can be proud, because the school is, relatively speaking, quite modern and well equipped.  We have eleven spacious and completely furnished classrooms, separate toilets for boys and girls, as well as all the necessary auxiliary rooms.  To insure normal and untroubled operation of the school, we have constructed two huge water tanks (one above and one underground), because there is no water system in the village.  The tanks will store rainwater, which will be used for the sanitary facilities.

I must point out that a great contribution to the construction and furnishing of the newly-built Secondary Technical School has been done by the students and teachers of our existing Padri Vjeko Vocational Training Center.  The students of the building section constructed the water tanks and auxiliary infrastructure buildings, and our carpentry students made the desks, chairs and cupboards and by doing so, fully equipped the classrooms.

That our words were not just self-praise was confirmed by the inspectors of the Rwandan Ministry of Education who, during a recent visit, gave the highest scores to our newly-built school.  In addition to confirming that all conditions had been met for granting the status of a secondary technical school, they left open the possibility that in the very near future, the school could develop into a higher technical academy.  There our students would be able to earn “A1” diplomas, which are the same level as university diplomas!

As you can see, we are unstoppable!  All thanks to your help and daily support!

And that’s why, at the same time as we are completing the first phase and opening this section to new students, we continue to work to complete the construction of the entire school complex.  The second phase will include the construction of another big school building with eight additional classrooms, a computer room, a library, a reading room, a teachers’ room, a meeting hall and staff offices.  And so, these days as we work to complete the foundations of the second building, in the already completed and equipped first section of the building, new students are being enrolled.  Thus our big dream is being realized in the most beautiful way possible.

In the end, what remains is to thank you - all the good and generous people - who, by helping in the construction of the school, have made quality education a possibility for thousands of young Rwandans.  You have ignited a spark of hope of a better future for the youth here in the heart of Africa!

Translated by Branimir Mlakić
Edited by Valerie Kae Ken