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Kivumu situation
Friday, 15 January 2010 Written by fra Ivica Perić

Do they have any future?!

Situation Analysis

Rwanda is a very small and very overpopulated country. The square km of Rwanda is around 25,000 and the population is estimated to be around 11,000,000 people. The majority of the inhabitants are extremely poor peasant farmers with the per capita income $200.

We do not have the figures but Rwanda is surely running on a very high percentage of foreign aid. There is a small percentage of wealthy and extremely wealthy in the country.

Should we describe this country as a military or socialist state or a combination of both? The political situation is complex with both benefits and disadvantages for the very poor and the voiceless - possibly more of the latter. As usual these get caught in affairs which they do not instigate but from which they suffer from the fallout.

The wealth of the very poor Rwandan is measured by the number of children one has, which of course conversely is also the reason for staying very poor in terms of economy, education, health, housing and sanitation.


Kivumu parish, which is our immediate concern, is a microcosm of the state. The area is small--60 km sq-- but the population large—30,000 inhabitants, 20,000 of whom are under the age of 25. Each year in this parish, 400-600 children finish primary education, which is subsidized by the government and which is compulsory. Very few of these children go on to secondary education and as the land is scarce and they have no skills worth mentioning, many enter into crime or prostitution or cheaply paid work. Or they enter into early marriage which results in a continuation of the same cycle of poverty.

With all the students leaving primary school and not being able to afford secondary education it is obvious to both the Government of Rwanda and to the Church that more secondary schools are needed in the country. We intend to build a private secondary school in Kivumu parish as there is none to date.

Kivumu parish founded a vocational school for primary school leavers ten years ago. The students range in age from 13-35 years and they study from a choice of tailoring, carpentry, building construction and some also learn computer skills. We are happy with our results. Thirty to one hundred students graduate each year. About ninety percent of these get jobs. In order to improve the quality of our programs, we have been working with a few schools in Uganda whose quality is already high, and with a few schools in Canada. A number of our teachers have already been sent to Uganda and to Canada to improve their skills and to come back and teach here in Rwanda. This has been a very successful venture.

So far none of those in whom we invested time and money have gone elsewhere. They are working very hard in our vocational school. In addition we receive volunteers from Canada, Germany, Croatia, and Austria at our school. These volunteers usually come for a few months; they pay their own way and they offer services to our students in a variety of ways. During this past summer of 2009 we had a family from Canada helping our students and our teachers to learn English as Rwanda is changing its second language from French to English. This volunteer from Canada, Doug Shaw, was, also, training our teachers “how to teach”. Most of our teachers are not formally trained, but possess the capacity to learn and the desire to do better. They are past students of our school who are learning their teaching skills as they go along.


This year we are going to start three new sections in our school: welding, plumbing and electricity. New teachers -six of them- went to Singapore for training in their trades for a two month period.

In 2009, fourteen of our building students went to St. Francis Family Helper Programme in Mbarara, Uganda - the same organization with whom we have a professional working relationship - and helped a group of fourteen Irish builders and ten Ugandan builders to construct a new block of classrooms. They stayed there for two weeks, earning their own fare, and were provided with their food and lodgings and at the same time learned even more skills from professional builders. They and we are very happy with this experience and all agree that they would like to have a similar experience another time.

The carpentry students and those of the brick-laying division of our school have also constructed various buildings in our own parish. They are very proud of such an accomplishment and it is, of course, always cheaper than hiring a company from outside. We intend to give these students the opportunity to help us in the construction of the new school which is our next venture.

And with your help and with the hard work and dedication of our students and teachers we can make this dream of a Secondary School a reality for Kivumu.

Edited by: Valerie K. K.

Father Vjeko Center

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