Sometime ago I wrote about the merits and the necessity for schools in Rwanda to embark on partnerships with schools in UK or other parts of the world. The merits seemed obvious but what was not clear as was highlighted in an email I got from Kenyan readers was how to deal with the challenge of creating an atmosphere of equality between a school in Rwanda and that in UK. Here the dilemma lies in the perceptions of the teachers and students.
As I was still musing over this idea, another friend asked an interesting question. Why don’t schools in Rwanda link up with other schools here in Rwanda? He later added that this can also be extended to the East African region for example. A school in neighbouring Tanzania for instance could link up with another here in Rwanda.
We certainly cannot ignore that time tested adage, "Charity begins at home." That said, I think before we go full gear into any partnerships with schools far away in the Queen’s land, we need to first embark on the same here at home.
A school in Kigali can come up with a partnership with another in Gitarama for instance. Occasionally the staff members and students of these two schools can interact and exchange ideas on a wide range of issues.
At the student level, the ideal thing would be for each of the schools to nurture clubs covering a wide spectrum. The clubs of one school may then pay the twin school a visit and have competitions like debates or even present dance and drama shows. More so, sports and games can annually be held at either school to foster competition and friendship between the two schools.
At the end of the year, a big end of year party may be held at either school to celebrate the schools’ friendship and reflect on the achievements that may have accrued from this engagement.
Rwanda is not that big a country and therefore this idea may not be that hard to implement. I have also noticed that in many cases students who comes to study in Kigali from upcountry will immediately return home as soon as they break off for holidays. At this rate students can easily spend all their school time in Kigali and fail to get time to even visit other parts of Rwanda. However if a partnership with a distant school is in place then it means that this student may get a chance to visit another part of the country other than his home area and Kigali.
Partnerships at a local level can indeed be very beneficial because the students and teachers of the partnering schools can get a chance to share ideas and thus learn a great deal about the mutual problems facing them as schools in Rwanda. Here the challenge of equality really does not arise.
Taking it to the regional level is also something that ought to be in place already. Rwanda and Burundi joined the East African community recently. This is a community whose sole ambition is to have a federation one day where all East Africans are equal.
Therefore there is no reason why schools in Rwanda and the region at large should wait for the legislators in Arusha to move. Schools can indeed link up with each other and share experiences. I look forward to a time when students from a school in Eastern Kenya will come to visit Rwanda and learn about the history of Rwanda and also take time to visit some of the spectacular places like Akagera and the Rwandans returning the favour the following term or year.
Partnerships with schools in UK or Europe can be quite beneficial to both parties but local or regional linkages are not a bad idea because, charity really ought to start from home.