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Our Children Deserve a Secondary School
Thursday, 30 June 2011 Written by fra Ivica Perić

Our Children Deserve a Secondary SchoolExamples present themselves to me every day of how our children in the Kivumu parish need and deserve a secondary school. One such example shook us pretty hard during the last few days. But such events, no matter how hard they are for us and our students to bear, are a source of additional motivation to solve all the necessary paperwork and start building the secondary school as soon as possible.

You see, these days in Rwanda a students’ speech giving contest is taking place. Children are presented with a subject, and in a given time frame they have to make up and tell a story in front of a large audience. The story not only has to be interesting, but the students also have to know how to communicate with the audience and attract its attention with their speech, which also has to contain a dose of humour.

If we take into account the fact that everything is done with no preparation whatsoever, the children also demonstrate their ability to improvise. Prior to every appearance before the audience, they are just given a subject and they have to come up with a story on the spot. Not only do they have to come up with a story, but they also have to know how to present it.

The competition was first held in every school, and the winners went on to additional contests in their local boards. The best ones from that level advanced further to municipal, and then provincial competitions. The cherry on top, of course, for the best of the best was the national competition. We too organized a competition in our vocational school. It was more than interesting, but also fun. It is amazing how many intelligent pearls are hidden among those children.

In our school the best student was Dieudonne Habiyambere, the best student of the second year in the carpentry section. Quiet and humble in ordinary circumstances, that boy surprised us dearly with his oratory skills. His speeches were simultaneously humorous, interesting, and even enlightening. We proudly sent him to further competitions, representing our school. He swept the competition in the local board, and then also on the municipal competition. And then there was a shock.

Our Dieudonne was unjustly stopped. He was disqualified from the competition! We were given a brief explanation saying that vocational students are not accepted into the competition. They only accept secondary-school and college students. I guess they were afraid that a boy from a village that has no electricity, who is learning a carpenter’s trade would, with his speech skills, beat the competition from elite schools and colleges... He tried so hard, and the news was a great shock to him. But he didn’t let it influence his motivation. He looks forward to his life as a carpenter.

“I love carpentry very much. In this school I’m going to obtain all the necessary knowledge and skills needed for that job, and my goal is to become the best in this profession. That way I would be able to secure a future and an existence for me and my family, and, one day when I get married, of course, for my wife and children. Education is necessary, because it is the only way we will be able to get a job and a more secure future. Then I’ll be able to afford many things I’m now not able to afford. “For example, meat, which I love to eat, but my family is not able to afford it very often,” Dieudonne tells us. His favourite hobbies include playing soccer, but he also enjoys singing and dancing with his friends.

Just imagine how many talents are hiding in these children - talents that may never be discovered. And only because no one gave them a chance. That must be changed!

Translated by: Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

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