Primary and secondary schools have started implementing measures to sustain a clean environment as part of the government’s environmental health policy.
At Lycée de Kigali, Nyarugenge District, a paved road in the middle of a clean garden with trees and flowers welcomes you. Across the garden, you realise that at every 40 metres, there is a trash bin. Similar bins are placed in every office/classroom to avoid unnecessary littering.
The school director Martin Masabo said: “It has been instilled in the minds of the students that littering is wrong; they have enough trash cans where to place the garbage, and whatever escapes them is collected by supporting staff.”
For female students having their monthly periods, the school has provided for special arrangements. A part from general advice, a nurse was hired by the school and provides sanitatary pads and basic medicine from a sickbay, the school built a separate dumping site close to their dormitories.
Lycée de Kigali spends over Rwf8m on environment protection annually.
“These facilities help us to stay healthy and perform well in class,” said Merci Ihumure, a student of Senior Four.
Venant Hakizimana, a school alumni, who graduated in 2002 and returned last year as a teacher of Biology, says “the school is becoming more and more attractive.
“In our time there was a lot of littering, toilets were dirty and water was not safe for drinking but things have changed,” he said.
After completion of evaluation of school environmental health which they started early this year, Marta Yankurije, the Inspector of Education in the City of Kigali, said despite the fact that many schools still lag behind, some understand the importance of a clean environment to students’ academic performances.
The environmental policies are not limited to the City of Kigali, but also in schools upcountry.
“We are already trying to maintain a clean environment,” said Charles Uwambajimana, the director of GS Bushaka, in Boneza Sector, Rutsiro District.
“We use students from environmental clubs which makes mobilisation easier,” he said.
In February this year, the Cabinet approved an extensive school health policy. It recommended an improved access to adequate and safe water in schools, proper sanitation, a clean environment for girls and an operational solid waste management.
The policy that was designated to cover five years, 2013-2017, also outlines guidelines in health and wellbeing and disease prevention/control, prevention of HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted diseases and promotion of physical education.
Of these programmes, however, the most costly remains the school nutrition component, which takes over 60 per cent of the total budget, of about Rwf 106.4bn.
The nutrition component recommends schools and parents to find a homegrown system of feeding children, and to maintain the existing feeding programmes like the one-cup-of-milk-per-child.
Besides government support, the education budget will also be increased through contributions from donors. The later are expected to contribute around Rwf15.1bn.
“The policy is just giving the guidelines to the existing school programmes, while also setting up clear targets,” said Sylvie Uwimbabazi, Director of Cross Cutting Programmes in the Ministry of Education.
It is projected that all the targets would be implemented by 2017.