'More than 60% of Rwanda's population is under the age of 24, so their understanding of the genocide is shaped by their families and communities. "There are resentments and ideologies that children learn from their parents and wider communities, and these feelings pose a threat to long-term stability and the economic and social development of the country," - Dr James Smith, CEO of the Aegis Trust.' – The Guardian, 20 March 2013.
The Rwandan youth are at a crossroads. Their challenge is to avoid repeating the stories of the past, and to carry their country into a stable, peaceful and prosperous future. The kind of education they receive will determine whether they have the skills to transform this responsibility into reality.
Today is the Day of the African Child, an annual event held in commemoration of the 1976 uprisings in Soweto, in which peaceful protests by school children against the educational limits enforced by apartheid led to many being killed by the police. Each year, a different theme is chosen to focus on some of the issues faced by African youth. This year the theme is: ‘Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights.’
The right to education is something that many of us take for granted, along with the expectation that this education will equip us with the tools to fulfil our potential and open all the doors available. This is the standard of education that we, with the help and expertise of both local and international partners, are working towards in Rwanda; both at our pilot project Umubano Primary School, and increasingly - through our outreach projects - in the wider education community.
With an understanding of the time sensitive nature of this crossroads, APIE has a clear mission. In only three years of operation, Umubano Primary School has made enormous strides in ensuring that the teaching provides students with the skills to become well-rounded citizens with an appreciation of their history, a sense of their future and a determination to succeed. Umubano is leading the way with its Peace Education programme, which is as much about the development of a healthy community as it is about lessons in the classroom. Children learn to live these values day by day.
We believe - in the vein of Day of the African Child’s theme - that all children have the right to an education which enables them to learn from the lessons of the past, and equips them with the tools to transform their future. This is not easy, as witnessed by continued cycles of conflict and vengeance around the globe. We see it in South Africa, where in the same year in which one million Rwandan lives were lost, apartheid was peacefully dismantled. However, so many young South Africans missed that vital window of opportunity, locking them in an ongoing cycle of poverty and violence. We are working to ensure this window is not missed here.
We see in Rwanda the possibility that a society can renew itself, and are working hard to support this hope. We are committed to inclusion, and truly believe that this education is needed for all. Through our scholarship fund, we commit to supporting pupils from the poorest families as well as those with special needs, with the promise that no child within 30 minutes’ walk of the school will be denied access. It is for this that we ask your help.
£30 a month, or £360 a year, pays for:
The tools to enable students to choose and build their own future.
With an ongoing commitment to the scholarship fund, you provide the financial stability for APIE to pledge support to each scholarship student; you contribute to the right of every child to an education; you help Rwanda, a small but vibrant and brave African nation, move away from the conflict and crisis of its recent past; and you offer each child a chance to build a future for themselves, their families and their country.
When asked what she would be doing if she didn't come to school, and how that would make her feel, an Umubano student said:
'If I couldn't be coming to school, I would always feel lonely and unhappy, because school is my future.'
£30 a month will cover the costs for one child’s education for a year, but any donation, regular or one off, will make an enormous difference in the lives and to the future of these students.
Be a part of this change. Become a partner in education today.
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