The 11th of October 2021 was the start of the new school year in Rwanda, an exciting time for the six partner schools that Wilderness Safaris’ non-profit Children in the Wilderness (CITW) works with, in the company’s three areas of operation in Rwanda. At the start of this new school year, CITW awarded an additional 30 six-year scholarships, valued at USD54 000, to learners at Bisate Secondary School, Rwabirharamba Secondary School outside Akagera National Park and Kinihira Secondary School close to Gishwati Forest. The 30 scholarships are in addition to 80 scholarships, valued at USD 120 000, already in place for students at Bisate Secondary School.
The funding has been provided by Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge and Magashi Camp guests, with the now 110 scholarships covering school fees, school meals, books and uniform costs for the full duration of the children’s secondary school education, giving them an unprecedented opportunity to shine.
The 30 new scholarships have been awarded to 12 students at Bisate Secondary School (five boys and seven girls), 10 students at Rwabirharamba Secondary School (an even number of five boys and five girls), with the remaining eight awarded to four boys and four girls at Kinihira Secondary School.
Carefully selected by the CITW Rwanda team, the Community Committees, Eco-Club mentors and the Heads of the schools, the learners were chosen on the basis of academic merit and participation in their Eco-Club (an interactive, fun and educational environmental skills programme for children). Having graduated from primary school, they are now enrolled at their respective secondary schools where they will continue their extra-curricular environmental education via the CITW YES Clubs. The YES Club is designed for older learners and expands on the conservation concepts introduced in Eco-Clubs.
In order to retain the scholarship through each grade, learners must maintain good academic results while showing dedication, motivation and good behaviour. CITW Rwanda Programme Coordinator, Aline Umutoni, will monitor the progress of each learner on a regular basis.
“We keep records of all school results, have regular meetings with the schools and the teachers, and I keep in contact with all 110 students in our scholarship programme. In this way we can ensure that all of them are doing well and are motivated to perform in the best possible way. If there are any problems at home, regarding school supplies or with their study results, I will notice this early on and the CITW team can provide extra support if required”, said a proud Aline Umutoni.
The new school year also means that the six CITW Eco-Clubs have resumed, and 60 learners at Bisate Primary School, 60 students at Akayange Primary School and 64 students at Gisunzu Primary School – a total of 184 learners – are enrolled in our Environmental Curriculum for P4, P5 and P6 (the senior years) students in primary school.
The six schools are delighted and thankful for the support from CITW, which has not only resulted in improvements at the schools – such as additional sanitary facilities, internet, classroom repairs, teacher training and new desks – but has also proven to work as an extra motivator for all students. Bisate Primary School had one of the best national exam results in the whole region at the end of the last school year, with the highest-scoring students being members of the Eco-Clubs.
The 2020 school year was interrupted by several closures due to COVID-19, but CITW is optimistic that the 2021-22 school year will be successful and fun for all the students and teachers.
Ingrid Baas, Operations Manager for Rwanda, and ultimately responsible for all CITW and Community projects in the country, noted: “We are very grateful for the assistance from our donors. Some of them have been supporting the CITW programme in Rwanda since we launched our first Eco-Club in 2018, and are still committed to helping. Other donors have stayed at Bisate or Magashi recently, where they learned about the programme and decided to offer their help. Each donation truly helps us to make a difference at the schools, in the communities, and especially in the daily lives – and future – of the children”.