GYC Village

blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff

Confronting Barriers to Education

by Lambert Mugabo

Education challenges among Historically Marginalized People (Potters) in Rwanda. A case of Mubuga sector, District of Karongi, Western Province, Rwanda.

This post has been published in a more recent version at youthpolicy.org

 

In a country like Rwanda where natural resources are very limited, arable lands are few, and still a big share of the population particularly in rural areas is occupied with subsistence agriculture, the hope for future or the realization of one’s dream is highly dependent on adequate education.

Education in Rwanda is one of the sectors that the government has put a priority on as it is recognized to be the key for the pursuit development. However, despite the efforts of the government of Rwanda to advance education — including the recent extension of basic education from 9 years to 12 years, as well as the increased promotion of science, information and technology — there are still plenty challenges to overcome. This is especially true in rural areas such as the Mubuga sector, Karongi district, where a delegation of human rights activists from Rwanda, the United States of America, as well as Canada visited on August 8, 2012 during a Human Rights Learning and Action Program for Young Leaders Organized by Global Youth Connect (GYC) in partnership with INARA Legal Services (INALAS).

While all interested kids in the community were invited to come together to discuss education, the target group was children who come from the Potter community (also known as Historically Marginalized People) in the Mubuga sector. We focused on this community for specific reasons: 1) this community as other communities of potters scattered through the country has been left behind as far as development is concerned and still they are not fully integrated in Rwandan society, and 2) if they are to have better economic and social prospects, there are patterns in their behavior and attitudes that need to be addressed.

The literature shows that these people have had a forest-based life believing that the forest was the source of all their needs. During 1970s when legislation was passed outlawing hunting, they were driven out of the forest without compensation and alternative means of earning livelihoods. Consequently, some of them became beggars, landless labourers, but specifically most of them shifted to pottery as the main source of income regardless of its small returns.

During the learning session with the children from Mubuga.

During the session held with the children of Mubuga which focused on education in particular, they mentioned various challenges that prevent them from succeeding in their studies: hunger, lack of materials as well as inability to pay of school fees were mentioned among the top challenges that make many kids drop out or not even go to school at all.

On the other hand, there are other crucial mental issues that were observed which hinder the advancement of education especially in communities of Historically Marginalized People whose history is tied to forest life. Those issues include delinquency whereby young kids instead of going to school look for jobs that provide them with a small income, careless parents who are not concerned at all about education of their sons and daughters, and lack of family support particularly for orphans. Furthermore, upon the session held with the kids, it was observed that there is critical issue concerning their motivation; many kids are not motivated enough to go to school.

When kids were asked about various activities that human beings do, their answers reflected on what they see in their community. Most kids referred to activities such as cultivating, cutting trees, fetching water, constructing, cooking, washing, playing, etc. and though few would hardly mention that human beings go to school, there is lack of connection between the education and one’s dream; there would mention going to school as anything else like cutting trees or cultivating.

Education needs of the potters’ communities

  1. Provide children with the space to voice their concerns about education.
  2. Educate both parents and children about the benefits of going to school.
  3. Organize monthly workshop which focuses on getting children motivated to go to school; reflect upon what a prosperous future for them might look like, and establish the relationship between education and realization of their dreams.
  4. Provision of school materials and clothes.
  5. Feeding program to address the problem of hunger.

Following the visit and the workshop with kids, delegates had their hearts touched, therefore  committed   themselves to take actions toward the improvement of the situation, whereby in collaboration with  Communauté des Pottiers Rwandais (COPORWA), a local organization advocating for Potters in Rwanda, Vanessa Colomba and Lambert Mugabo, and many others have come up with ideas to address some challenges stated above and we shall welcome any contribution to improving living conditions of potters.

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7 comments on “Confronting Barriers to Education

  1. spauldingspider
    August 29, 2012

    Reading the report on the educational/etc. needs, I got to thinking about the GOATS that Jode (our new Veterinarian/friend) is raising for milk and cheese, and to introduce to more Rwandans — seems like the villages where the potters work might take an interest? Seems that you have a wonderful, recent GYC program.
    Akazi Kaza!
    -Dr. Glenn W. Hawkes (Ed.D.), Director c/o Ward Brook Center 172 Pine Street Danvers, MA 01923 tel: 978 774 3547

    • realman3203
      October 5, 2012

      Thank you Dr.Glenn for your idea, and I agree with you about that. My comment is that before implementing such an idea there is another need of training potters for them to become strong enough ready to manage their project. Something like what world neighbours do http://www.wn.org/

  2. globalyouthconnect
    October 5, 2012

    Good idea, realman, Coporwa (which is the local Rwandan NGO working with the potters) should certainly check out http://www.wn.org and if they have not by the time we work with them again in January, we can look into it. But it is really very important that the local NGO + the local government take up the key responsibilities of ensuring the capacity of the potter communities, because outside NGOs cannot do the best work. GYC can only do very specific cross cultural work, which is good, but it is not the MAIN thing that this particular village needs. They need to be followed very closely by Coporwa and the local government. The problem is that sometimes we feel that we are being seen as saviors, but we cannot play such a role, and we always articulate it that way. So hopefully we will witness some changes when we return in January. Stay tuned!

    • realman3203
      October 7, 2012

      Thank you for the response. One thing I would like to add on is that we,human rights activists, have responsibilities to advance and defend human rights. I agree with your idea that GYC has a specific cross cultural work, but what GYC alumni do after the program? Remember well that it is recognized the delegates may develop strategies or projects a result of the program. I would like to let everybody know that Vanessa and I continue to work together and we are in touch with COPORWA for we are interested to work with them in order to adress some challenges they face and once programs are set up we shall look into ways of expanding the work.

    • realman3203
      October 7, 2012

      Thank you for the response. One thing I would like to add on is that we, human rights activists, have responsibilities to advance and defend human rights. I agree with your idea that GYC has a specific cross cultural work, but I would like to hear what the recent GYC alumni are going to do after the program has now just ended? Remember well that it is recognized the delegates may develop strategies or projects a result of the program. I know it is still very early since the program, but I would like to let everybody know that Vanessa and I continue to work together and we are in touch with COPORWA for we are interested to work with them in order to address some challenges they face and once programs are set up we shall look into ways of expanding the work. — Lambert Mugabo, GYC Alumnus August 2012

  3. globalyouthconnect
    October 7, 2012

    Good work Lambert and Vanessa. We look forward to hearing the specifics of your plans, and then, if we can collaborate with the next delegation that will be superb! If you are looking to support COPORWA, you should contact the Director of Coporwa if you have not already — “Coporwa Asbl” — coporwa @ yahoo . fr

    • realman3203
      October 8, 2012

      We have contacted him already, we are in touch. As far as specifics of our plans are concerned, we shall communicate them when the time is appropriate. Thank you.

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This entry was posted on August 28, 2012 by in Education, Rwanda, Rwanda Program Posts.

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