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On Wednesday 20 May, A Partner in Education hosted an evening reception at the Royal Geographical Society. This was the official launch of APIE, to celebrate the progress of our work in Rwanda to date and to articulate publicly our goals and ambitions for the next five years. We were delighted to meet so many inspirational people and thoroughly enjoyed the interesting and challenging questions as well as the hugely positive comments and conversations that filled the RGS that evening.
As guests began arriving at 6 p.m., they were greeted by traditional Rwandan music from ACD Arts and a buzz of conversation soon filled the Main Hall. Amongst the music, the beautifully crafted Rwandan canapés and striking tablecloths, straight from the local market in the capital Kigali, there was a real flavour of Rwanda in the room. This set the scene for the presentation, telling the story of APIE’s journey, what we are doing to ensure that children regardless of background and circumstance have the opportunity to receive high quality education and how we are developing a centre of excellence to spread the work more widely.
Lucy Newmark, Chair of Trustees, warmly welcomed everyone and introduced the Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency Williams Nkurunziza, to say a few words about the impressive progress in Rwanda, just 21 years after the genocide. He spoke of the value of international partnerships between Rwanda and the UK, the vital importance of education for growth and prosperity and of common humanity – his gratitude for the work APIE is doing and how we can all get involved in innovative and important projects like this one.
After this rousing introduction, which was met with huge applause, Kitty Llewellyn, co-founder and Trustee, took us on a journey from the very beginnings of APIE. Whilst working in a newsroom in Kigali, she received news that a school where she had been volunteering had been closed. The students had nowhere to take their upcoming exams, which would allow them to go to secondary school. Kitty promised help and called Brooks Newmark who had also spent time volunteering at the school. So began A Partner in Education. Now, just six years on, Umubano Primary School is well on its way to becoming a centre of excellence in the local area and beyond and APIE is an established international partner, enabling resources and expertise to support the progress of both pupils and teachers.
Following Kitty, Angie Kotler, CEO, spoke of the passion, determination and commitment that such a small country has exhibited, how change is possible and how education is at the heart of it. Angie showed how Umubano Primary School’s broad curriculum and practical teacher training is giving children the best possible start in life to thrive in the global world we all live in. The strong international partnerships APIE is building with schools in the UK are strengthening our model in Rwanda and opening opportunities for true reciprocal learning.
Kitty spoke with passion to thank everyone who has supported APIE and noted our ambitions for the next five years to make the school locally sustainable. Our aspirations to build a hall will enable the school community to come together, will provide the space to carry out onsite training for teachers in other schools and be used by the local community as a vital source of income in the future. Our plans for ICT infrastructure and training will equip teachers and children with the skills for a digital world and our teacher training programme will enable local trainers to continue the work at and beyond Umubano Primary School. This next phase is crucial and will allow Umubano Primary School to become locally sustainable and embedded in the community to benefit children and teachers for generations to come.
At the end of an evening filled with celebration and inspiration, we were left with the soulful tones of APIE patron Jean Paul Samputu, the enthusiastic buzz of conversations, the feeling of excitement at the prospect of this unique and important work – and most of all gratitude to everyone who has contributed time, energy and money and supported our vision. Education has the power to change lives, and there was no stronger endorsement of that than in the words exchanged, the connections made and in the feelings evoked in the Royal Geographical Society that evening.
Here is what some people said about the event:
Well done last night! It was a well-crafted and informative evening which I hope is a success for APIE.
Congratulations- what a triumph last night was. You have done amazing things with APIE, and there was such a warm and supportive atmosphere in the room. I thought the presentations were all perfect in length and content and I've never heard Jean-Paul sound so soulful. Well done!
I really enjoyed the evening last night, very much. Especially the music and the presentations.
Just a quick note to say thank you for last night. It was a fantastic evening and so well organised.
Many thanks for inviting me and allowing me to bring my friend yesterday. It was very well organised and very inspiring.
I thought it was brilliant! I've been imagining us having an event for so long.
I wanted to write and thank you for inviting me to your event yesterday evening. It was lovely to meet up with so many friends with a shared interest in Rwanda, and of course to hear the latest news and plans for APIE and Umubano Primary School.
Wendy Morton MP
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