The merriment that characterise most jubilees often turn into a fiesta of sort, but at Groupe Scholaire Notre Dame des Apotres de Rwaza (GSNA Rwaza), their most important stakeholders–students–had to take priority.
At their golden jubilee celebrations, earlier this month, GSNA Rwaza administration decided to give students who owed the school fees and other obligations a smile to remember by waiving their debts.
The compassionate act was made public in the middle of celebrations, that the school had exonerated debts amounting to millions of francs owed by poor parents who failed to pay school fees for their children over the years.
Cheers and ululations rented the air at the announcement as the students and parents thanked the school for the gesture of “giving back” to the stakeholders.
The cerebration was a day of joy for former students of the school, most of whom had last met more than 20 years ago.
Claude Nzimenyera, a resident, might as well have been among the happiest at the golden jubilee fiesta, probably happier than the alumni that had gathered.
It was good news for the father of nine that all the debts he owed the school had been waived. He had not paid the school for the tuition of his two daughters since last academic year.
“I owed the school more than Rwf300,000, which I had clearly failed to pay. I have struggled but in vain, I contacted the school many times seeking for more time so that I can get the money but I missed the deadlines that I myself gave the school and my option was to get the children out of the school. These were painful moments and decisions so to think of this gesture... it’s a godsend,” said Nzimenyera, 56, from Remera Sector in Musanze.
“I did my best to educate my children; I sold part of my land and domestic animals. But this time I was to resign,” he added.
Nzimenyera currently has four children in secondary school, all in boarding, which makes it hard for him to fulfill both tuition and boarding requirements.
Supporting the poor
It is not only Nzimenyera who benefitted from the largesse of the faith-based school, which is among the oldest in the country.
“I’m so happy, it’s a huge blessing,” said a mother of six, who owed the school more than Rwf200,000.
According to Sr Marthe Nzabakurana, the head teacher, Jubilee Day should not only be for joy and celebrations but also for supporting the poor.
“As the scripture says in Matthew 6:2, ‘So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full,’” Sr Nzabakurana said.
Attempts to get how much the school waived was fruitless as the head teacher insisted their “kind gesture cannot be turned into a public subject of gloating.”
“We can’t tell the total amount because we didn’t care how much but we were inspired by God’s grace, what I can tell you is, we have counted losses totaling two million each year in what parents owe us,” she said.