On a busy Monday morning, Engineer Noel Uwineza, a teacher of general mechanics at T.S.S Nyamata is busy and passionately instructing his students who are preparing for their level six examinations.
In a workshop room fully equipped with complex equipment, level six students are intensely working out apractical machining session as a part of the final project they must do as they conclude their final year of studies.
In the next room, their counterparts are doing their part in wielding, using complex machines under the auspices of KFW Germany (a Germany financing institution) through a partnership with Workforce Development Authority (WDA).
A happy Uwineza tells me how confident he is of the competence of his students,
“If I release these students now, they are able to do a lot. They can make metallic doors, windows, chairs, beds, they can do wielding, many things,” he says.
The institution that started as a secondary school in 2003 and turned into a technical school in 2005 now stands out as a pilot technical school in Bugesera district, with the exception of being the only school in the country which teaches tailoring.
To date, it has been able to register a number of achievements, thanks to the support by WDA in partnership with GIZ which has not only provided equipment for training but also facilitated the rehabilitation of the library, workshops, dormitories, classrooms, building a fence for the school, provision of water tanks as well as providing trainings for the teachers by German instructors.
Uwineza appreciates the support and says he has seen the skills of his students improve as a result of the equipment brought in. The modern equipment covers the tailoring department, carpentry, general mechanics, as well as construction.
By the time it turned into a technical institution, the school had about 300 students only but today, it boasts of up to 765 students. In addition, the school offers training to adult members of the community who never had a chance to go to school during their early days, studying on evening program and at the end of six months or a full year, they get a certificate for their short courses.
The school has 34 engineers that teach, besides the administrative and support staff.
John Sebahana, the school manager says that with the support, the students are able to get satisfactory training and a quality workforce is produced. For instance, with the tailoring equipment, students are able to make their own uniforms and overalls from school, rather than buying them; a fact that shows the impact that the skills they learn are already impacting the society.
With the country encouraging “made in Rwanda” among other job creation initiatives, Sebahana says that the need for technical education is real and fortunately, the parents are coming to understand it and this is yielding results.
“At the beginning, it was very difficult for us to make the parents confident in vocational education. It was difficult for them to understand it but today many parents have accepted to orient their children in technical studies,” he says.
WHAT STUDENTS SAY
Yves Mutangana, a level six student of general mechanics
The learning process is smooth since everything they need to learn from is available and they don’t have to move to another place to find a particular equipment.
Eric Nzayisenga, student of tailoring
Why I chose technical studies is that after studying, I will not be looking for a job. I feel I can create my own job.
Phiona Umwari, student of construction
I am enjoying what I am doing. We have the materials we need to study and this is very important for our learning. I chose construction because I love planning. I want to be an architect in future.