Kicukiro’s move to build an Early Childhood Development Centre in Nyarugunga Sector to provide free learning to children has been described as one of the good indicators of the district’s commitment to becoming a knowledge hub.
Lawmakers made the observation, on Tuesday, while touring development projects in the district as part of their countrywide tour to assess the status and impact of development projects at the grassroots.
The tour, which started on January 12, is expected to conclude on Saturday, after assessing projects in various sectors, including in the areas of education, health, water and sanitation, infrastructure and energy.
The centre can accommodate more than 100 early childhood learners (pre-nursery children) starting this academic year for free.
The coordinator of the centre, Jean de Dieu Massion, said that with the support of Imbuto Foundation, the centre will this year enroll around 140 children whose families cannot afford to send them to both pre-nursery and nursery schools.
“We have received many applications so far and the children will be given in-school food, school kits on top of other things for free. The challenge is that more applications keep coming in and we might be overwhelmed,” Massion said.
Policy on pre-school children
The Government policy, adopted in 2011, seeks to have all pre-school children attend early childhood development centres in part, to enhance the child’s survival, growth and development, especially for children from marginalised and disadvantaged families.
A previous report on quality of education from the senatorial Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions indicated that only 17.5 per cent of eligible children attend early childhood education, a serious gap that is occasioned by little or lack of awareness of the parents.
So far, according to officials, the Government has started a programme of establishing a nursery corner at all 12-Year Basic Education schools to accommodate children aged between three and six.
Angelique Mukunde, the Kicukiro vice-mayor in charge of finance, said it was in their plans to have one early dhildhood development centre in every cell to increase access.
“Since it is free, more centres are needed to handle the number of enrolled pupils, the teacher-pupil ratio has grown further and what we have noticed is that there is a lot to do on family planning awareness,” she said.
Mukunde said the district gives priority to education development projects.
A master plan adopted by Parliament in 2008 covering three districts of the City of Kigali envisages that Nyarugenge District will be the city’s financial hub, Kicukiro the knowledge hub, and Gasabo the employment and cultural hub.
Speaking to The New Times, MP Agnes Mukazibera, who led the group of four lawmakers on the tour of Kicukiro District, expressed appreciation of the centre and urged more private partnership to fast-track other activities.
“Before we start our tour, we ask for development plans of the districts and as soon as we hit to the field we assess the levels of activities against the baselines and targets of the same districts,” Mukazibera said.
“What I can say so far is that we are impressed with at some of the projects done in the district, beneficiaries look happier and the leaders are working in the interests of the citizenry,” she added.