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Sunday, 20 October 2013

A story from our Rwanda School

The Head Teacher (Sister Mary) who is one of my personal heroes sent me this story about one of her teachers in Rwanda and I thought you might like to read it;


Jean d’Amour Tuyisenge  is a Primary Four Teacher at St. Therese Primary School. He was born in Ngoma  District, Murama Sector, Eastern province of Rwanda.  His name Jean d”Amour in English means  John Of Love. He was born in 1990 now 23 years of age. His Father Alfred Gasangwa  died when he was only three years and his mother  Marie Therese Mukagakuba   is alive but left Tuyisenge when he  was very young and was married to another man.  Tuyisenge then lived with his Maternal Grandmother who brought him up in the best way she could.
The old grandmother much as she tried to care for the Tuyisenge, Life was not easy for the young boy. At school Tuyisenge was always late because he had to walk a long distance to school; he did not always have what he needed ;despite all that he succeeded well in class and teachers liked him for his academic excellence.

At Rurama Secondary School Tuyisenge continued to encounter serious problems of lack of school fees, scholastic material ,and had long journeys  to make to and from school.  Despite those problems he performed well in class, was disciplined and set good examples in behavior and academics. As a result he was trusted and elected a head boy among 450 students in the school. The school Leadership, aware of some of his problems, permitted him to study free of charge for a period of two years.
Tuyisenge‘s favorite lesson was English Language. In The District competition he came first and this opened for him an opportunity to participate In the National Competition. After three years of Ordinary Level, he sat and passed the National Examination with Distinction. He was admitted at Sake Secondary School studied Combination of Science lessons of MCB (Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology); he had done very well in those Subjects.
At the end of Senior Six Tuyisenge was expecting the National Examination and all of a sudden he was attacked my severe Malaria. He sat for Examination while very sick, and as result missed some points to qualify for the Government University Scholarship.  This put him down and for some time kept at home without sense of direction.
Gilbert Bisangabagabo, who worked with us told me about Tuyisenge and how he was now confined at his grandmother frustrated and yet with great intellectual capacity.  I was then looking for a science oriented teacher and Gilbert assured me that Tuyisenge was the best in the area and that an opportunity to teach would revive his hope for possible bright future.
When Tuyisenge approached me for a teaching job I interviewed his and indeed I found him quite bright young man. When he started earning some bit of money he decided, with encouragement from his fellow teachers, to registrar again for senior six, as private candidate. He sat for the Exam again last year hoping that he would perform well to get Government university scholarship. He indeed passed very well and to the standards he would have qualified for the scholarship but unfortunately this year The Government has stopped those scholarships and Tuyisenge again has missed it.
This time Tuyisenge is quite firm; he has decided to try it alone with the little funds he gets as a licensed teacher.  He had been admitted in Busogo university to study Agriculture but he cannot make it. He has now opted to study weekend University program in Klbungo;  he is studying science subjects.
He teaches five days and on the weekend he goes to study. He does not know whether he will make it especially with the little funds available to cater for many needs.
I decided to write about Tuyisenge because of special observation I made about him.  He has a way of handling pupils that has given best results in the School.  First of all Tuyisenge is not trained a teacher. These years he teaches the class that has the largest number of pupils and majority are girls.  It is amazing that his class is the most disciplined, serious class in the school.  Pupils especially girls have been performing remarkably well in class and outside class.
What he does is group work; he makes groups of four pupils and in each group is a bright pupil who leads others. He encourages then to help one another and as for him he just facilitates them and supervises class work . He told me this: “I help pupils to trust in me and imitate me while teaching. I encourage them to memorize immediately what I teach them because they have no time to revise lessons when they arrive at home. I also encourage them to be creative in their group work.”
Having interviewed Tuyisenge about his life I asked him what he would like to say to other young people who may have similar problems like his . He told me that they too should learn to persevere, accept their stories and have positive thinking as they try to shape their future .
His vision he said is to get the best out of the little he has at hand.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A right to education

Over the 18 years since we started the work of Helping Uganda Schools there has been a great focus on providing the buildings so that good teaching can be delivered. St Zoes, Good Shepherd and now St Therese's in Rwanda have all demanded quite a lot of building work. No doubt there will be more to come.

But our Trustees decided that we should put more emphasis on not only subsidising the cost of education at primary and secondary and vocational levels but also give support to the very brightest young people who have the ability and drive to go on the further education.

We launched our scholarship programmes and they extend to both Uganda and Rwanda.

At University we now support 6 students of Nursing, Medicine, Accountancy, and Education. At secondary school we are supporting a further 5 who have yet to chose their further careers.

Secondary schooling costs about £330 per year and University between £1200 and £2000 per year but those costs include fees, accommodation, books and travel.

The University Students commit to stay and work in Uganda or Rwanda after qualification.

The only real long term escape from so many of Africa's problems is through education and good governance.