She stands close to the chalk board with a beaming smile. As if to grab the learners’ attention, Domitile Mukarutamu cracks a joke and the class bursts into laughter.
For a second, I mistook the entreprenuership lesson for a drama or comedy class. But it was not. I quickly realised that in order to keep everyone in class active, Mukarutamu chips in jokes during her lessons.
With the students still excited, she throws at them an entreprenuership question and almost all of them raise their hands to give the answer. But Mukarutamu ‘ignores’ the attentive front benchers and chooses an absent minded individual in the corner. Everyone keeps glued to their seat with their eyes fixed on the charming teacher until the break time bell goes off.
From my observation and interaction with both teachers and students, I understood why Rwanda Education Board awarded Mukarutamu for her distinctive contribution.
Source of inspiration
“My students drive me to aim for the best because I know they are the future of this country. When I enter class, we all share our experiences for a common goal,” Mukarutamu says before adding that the plight of the girl-child even pushes her to do more.
“Most girls are disadvantaged because culture views them as weak and not deserving of good things as the boy-child which pains me. I believe that it is through education that we can empower the girl-child to realise their full potential and that is what has kept me going.
The 57-year-old teacher also believes that good education unlocks talents and skills of the young Rwandans.
And Edouard Uhagaze, the deputy head teacher in charge of studies, confirms this.
“Domitile has been teaching at this school since 1981 and students’ performance keeps getting better every year simply because she has a passion for what she does. She always gets work done perfectly,” he says.
Annonciato Mukamugemana, a chemistry teacher at Lycee Notre dame da Citeaux, describes Mukarutamu as exceptional. “She is more of a mother to some of us because she not only loves her job but also wants everyone to be comfortable because to her we are one big family.”
Mukarutamu the entrepreneur
And just like anyone else, Mukarutamu has a life outside work. From her small salary, the mother of two girls has managed to buy five Friesian cows which saves her from buying milk.
She also owns houses for rent and one of them is currently occupied by a local telecommunication company.
Although Mukarutamu refuses to disclose how much she earns from her projects, she admits that the income is good enough.
Advice to teachers
Mukarutamu says going to a Teachers Training institution does not necessarily make you a teacher but rather the passion.
“When you do what you love, you have high chances of getting rich because you will most likely succeed and even put in more effort than the others who are doing it for survival,” Mukarutamu says.
Who is Mukarutamu?
Mukarutamu is the last born in a family of nine and is married with two beautiful daughters — one an engineer, the other a student.
Despite coming from a humble family, Mukarutamu’s parents understood the value of education. “Even though my parents were farmers and did not have much wealth, they still sent us to school.
Interestingly, Mukarutamu graduated as an accountant at the National University of Rwanda but she chose to follow her heart. Fortunately, because of her unique character and abilities, Mukarutamu soon received a government scholarship to France to train in administration and management of a secondary school. She was then welcomed to Lycee Notre dame da Citeau, the only school she has served in 33 years.
As a person always hungry for more knowledge, Mukarutamu later pursued a masters degree in Entrepreneurship and Computer Science.
Outside class, the long-serving teacher also serves as the Umudugudu leader of Indangamirwa village in Nyarugenge District.