In Rwanda the competition within the education sector has become a competitive phenomenon. From year to year parents continue the struggle to find means for affording school fees for ‘reputable’ schools; schools untarnished of indiscipline and high academic achievement.
Across Rwanda new private schools become attractive from year to year and the list of most sought after wavers, based on a ‘clean slate’ for the year. Speaking about secondary schools predominantly, and holding positions of insight, one challenges the socio-culture of influence on the youth of Rwanda.
Some time back, in counselling a student caught for possession of marijuana, I asked the question: “By whom had he seen smoking or been influenced to such behaviours?” Thinking the student was about to devolve supplier or accomplices I gave him the paper to write. To my surprise, the names given were such as ‘Snoop Dogg’?
Aaaah … Development!!! Access to popular western music media where the negatives of social change are portrayed through music, funk and dance have taken a place of such powerful influence in the minds of this young generation in Rwanda. The funk music scene is portrayed as ‘cool’ and a youthful way to behave; young guys wearing pants where their ‘buttocks’ are exposed; girls in mini skirts and tops with ‘shoestring’ straps. These are the formidable images portrayed in western music videos and being adopted by the youth of Rwanda.
My students call it ‘Boom’. “We want more boom”, they tell me. Coming from the West and having raised my own three daughters with the ‘boom’, I learnt to use it as a conversation opener to conditioning lifestyle values. As a parent, a mother and single parent for 18 years, I was responsible to groom my kids’ values in life. I used ‘boom’ stimulus to invoke my kids to make lifestyle choices before the temptations of cigarettes, alcohol and narcotics.
Parents who make rules, schools that make rules, are simply creating an antagonistic environment. This is what I phrase as ‘DEducation.’ We deaden our young people to have self-discipline when we give boundaries without providing the why and anti-social consequences. We forbid our kids to smoke because we know it causes addiction, anti-social behaviour and is a major health hazard. Somehow, due to the secondary boarding school environment in Rwanda, parents/guardians don’t have the same opportunity of instilling values. It is therefore up to schools to take higher ownership of ‘parenting’ students, not just making rules.
Anti-social behaviour such as street gangs, graffiti and tunnel hangouts. Boredom is a killer and a DEducation. A family I dearly love; both parents work, have two young sons who in the holidays spend most of their days in front of television. The boys go uncensored with their viewing.
At ages 5 and 9 the violence they are exposed to brought me to address the parents that strict supervision was necessary. To my sadness, a year later, I witness no change in supervision, yet the parents ask me what should they do to enhance their kids’ educational prospects? We DEducate our kids with allowing unsupervised television in our homes.
All this to say, parents/guardians, we all desire so much in the future of our young people. As Rwandans, we also desire so much for our own futures through access of media, knowledge and the difficulty of maintaining Rwandan culture and values.
Social change and development is a marriage of the strengths of heritage and a disciplined exposure to values which negatively influence. Education is a partnership of both formal and informal proportions. The African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ epitomises the importance of the role of the wider community in raising children and young people (Tomison & Wise, 1999:1), and it need not be forgotten.
The writer is the deputy principal, student welfare, Riviera High Schoolour children