More than 400,000 children were orphaned by Rwanda’s genocide. Many were left to look after each other in child-headed households, sacrificing their own education in order to bring up the younger orphans. As a consequence, thousands missed out on school and can barely read or write. However, many want to resume their education so that they can learn a vocational skill or go to college or university. English recently became the national language, along with Kinyarwandan. It is almost impossible to study in Rwanda without being able to read and write in English and being literate in English is a ladder to better career prospects.
In September 2009, we opened the Rwanda Multi Learning Centre under the directorship of Moses Kiyendeye. Moses and three other teachers offer beginner, intermediate and advance English classes five days a week. Taking in 120 new students a year, the Learning Centre also offers IT and business lessons, and CV and job interview workshops. All of the students are eager to learn, and make sacrifices to attend. They receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course, and their skills are in demand from local businesses. Joseph, one of the students, wrote in a recent exam: “I would like to carry on my studies in order to increase my skills…I would like to get more money so that I can help African children…to give them school fees, something to eat and other things they don’t have. As I don’t like injustice in our society, I would like to be a man of the people teaching them how to live in harmony.”