Sometimes it is difficult being a writer. Just as I was preparing to clear a plate of food on Christmas day, my editor sent me a text reminding me that he was waiting for this article. Of course I made sure that I handled the food first just so I could have the energy to type the story.
We can all agree that the year 2012 has reached its last days and soon we shall be struggling with remembering to write 2013 instead of 2012 in the date. I have particularly enjoyed 2012 because on three different occasions I got a chance to speak to young Rwandan students about what the future holds for them.
The lack of career guidance is one of the problems that children in this country face since it is during their youth that smart decisions ought to be taken if the future is to reveal its promises.
Many children think they only have to study because someone is paying for their education and wants to see a good report card. Few of them take the time to think of where they are heading with this thing called education.
Just try asking a few of them what they think they would love to do when done with studies and see how many of them want the tradition doctor/lawyer option while many more will not even have an answer.
Children are generally inquisitive and I think it is the role of the adults to offer those answers as well as guidance.
As we move into 2013 I think we should all play a bigger role in moulding young Rwandans into better people instead of just sitting back and parroting that common phrase “ariko abaana b’iki igihe” (children of these days). They need our guidance more than our condemnation.
Although a lot has been achieved as far as access to education is concerned, it will also be vital for more efforts to be invested in improving the quality of education in this country. Many of the answers to improving quality exist already – it is just up to the Government to decide which answers are the right ones for Rwanda.
The challenge we are now facing is whether the quality of graduates we are producing at the end of the education cycle are the kind that the country really needs. Are they up to the standards that employers had hoped for? Are they even fit to be called ‘graduates’?
What can we do differently in 2013 to ensure that our graduates are competitive not only for jobs here but even beyond? Parents should not leave all the work to teachers. It is important to monitor your child’s education and support them as much as possible to achieve their dreams.
Students should in return not let down their parents by wasting the chance of an education because time wasted is never regained. Children ought to know that discipline, ambition and hard work are vital if one is to be successful in life.
I cannot leave out the teachers on whom the heaviest burden is often left. Teachers need to stick to the ethics of the profession and also do everything possible – including inspiring their students - to ensure that children entrusted to them are able to realise their full potential.
The government will have to continue concentrating on quality improvement by seeing that the teacher and book to child ratio is lowered. Head teachers should access short courses in leadership so that they can run schools in a more professional way. More can also be done on improving the training of teachers, especially primary school teachers.
Whatever we do we should not forget that through the country’s Vision 2020 we set ourselves a target to see Rwanda as a knowledge based economy. It starts with you and me. Happy New Year 2013.