First Lady urges community to take initiative in girls’ education

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The First Lady, Mrs Jeannette Kagame, congratulates one of the best performing girls during the closing ceremony this year's Promotion of Girls Education Campaign in Mayange Sector, Bugesera District, yesterday. / Courtesy

The First Lady, Mrs Jeannette Kagame, has called for more community involvement to promote education of girls.

In her remarks during the closing ceremony of this year’s Promotion of Girls Education Campaign in Mayange Sector, Bugesera District, the First Lady said community members, including parents and teachers, must ensure that girls not only attend school but also find confidence to realise that they are secondary to none but rather fairly compete with their male counterparts.

“We must also recognise that our efforts to support and promote initiatives and programmes that value girls’ education will not be a reality without the support and engagement from the community, the parents and the teachers,” she said.

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First Lady Jeannette Kagame addresses the residents of Mayange Sector during the closing ceremony of this year's Promotion of Girls Education Campaign. / Courtesy

The campaign—now in its twelfth year—is one of the many programmes initiated by Imbuto Foundation, of which the First Lady is the founder.

Since the beginning of the campaign in 2005, Imbuto Foundation has awarded over 4,438 girls.

The First Lady noted that even though tremendous efforts have been made to support girls’ education, major issues such as teenage pregnancy and early motherhood pose major constraints and still hinder girls’ progress in education.

The Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2014/15 findings indicate that one per cent of girls aged 15 have already begun childbearing.

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First Lady Jeannette Kagame, Minister Munyakazi, and Maly join the best performing girls for a commemorative photograph. / Courtesy

Mrs Kagame said more efforts should be invested in sensitising parents and teachers to realise that educating girls has a significant impact on the socio-economic development of the country.

“The development of our people and our country heavily relies on the education of its people. Without vigilantly investing in the education sector signifies that all other sectors cannot reach their full potential,” she added.

Available statistics from the Ministry of Education indicate that even though the performance of girls has improved in the last 12 years, and currently more girls than boys pass in national examinations, boys are still outperforming girls in the top divisions.

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Isaac Munyakazi, the state minister for primary and secondary education, said that even though girls’ performance has significantly improved over the years, they still need to be mobilised and supported to achieve the same academic excellence as boys.

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Minister of State in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education Hon. Isaac Munyakazi speaking at the closing ceremony of the Promotion of Girls Education Campaign (PGEC) held in Bugesera District. / Courtesy

During her speech, the First Lady hailed development partners such as UNICEF, among other institutions, for their efforts in ensuring that girls attend school and have conducive learning atmosphere to compete with boys.

“This year, like the previous ones, have shown us how much of every effort that we put toward education results in more girls pursuing their education with such vigour and enthusiasm,” she added.

Ted Maly, UNICEF country representative, lauded Rwanda’s efforts in promoting girls education.

Maly urged girls to “reach for the stars and think big; aiming for greater heights.”

This year, Imbuto Foundation rewarded 202 girls from Primary and Ordinary Levels, and 25 girls from Advanced Level, with rewarding events taking place in Rubavu, Nyamasheke, Nyaruguru, Muhanga and Bugesera.

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Marcelline Gato, speaking about her experience as a blind student, and highlighted her educational achievements. / Courtesy

Every year, girls rewarded for their academic achievements receive scholastic materials, ICT training and funds to create savings accounts.

Best Performing Girls in the Advanced Level are rewarded with a laptop and IT training.

One of the recipients, Bestride Uwirozi, has received Imbuto Foundation awards for the third straight time. She has been rewarded from Primary Six up until Senior Six.

Uwirozi thanked Imbuto Foundation, saying the first award she received among the best performers in primary inspired her to work hard and pass both Senior Three and Senior Six exams.

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