The Imbuto Foundation on Wednesday October 28 marked 15 years since it launched the Promotion of Girls’ Education Campaign (PGEC). Launched in 2005, the programme looks to sensitize girl children towards education. Under the program, each year, parents, teachers, local leaders and students interact with inspirational role models and hear their testimonies on the importance of education. In addition, as part of the campaign, Imbuto Foundation with its partners award the best performing girls from across the country to encourage them in their education endeavours. Award recipients are categorised as: the best girl per sector at primary school level; the best girl per district at O-Level and; the best five girls per province at A-level. They are awarded with prizes such as school materials, and start-up funds for savings and training in ICT for those graduating from high school. Speaking during a live broadcast held to mark the 15-year celebrations, Geraldine Umutesi, the Deputy Director General of Imbuto Foundation, said that it has reached out to up to 5,088 students to date. She said the program was started after the organization saw that girls were lacking in school, and there were many challenges in their education, “The First Lady Mrs. Jeannette Kagame thought that we could do sensitizations that start from families. This is because the basis of the problem was in families,” Umutesi said. “That is how this program started. We sensitize parents, local leaders, school institutions, and the girls themselves about the importance of education. We want these girls to go to school, study and finish their courses with great grades,” she added. Imbuto also made outreaches to various schools, encouraging girls to pursue sciences courses and information technology. Bonifride Uwimbabazi, a female medical student at the University of Rwanda is one of the beneficiaries of the program. She was awarded by the Imbuto Foundation as the best girl student for about three times, from when was in Primary School in 2011, until she finished her advanced level of education. She says this encouraged her in her studies “It made me happy. I felt supported because I saw that my performance meant something,” she said. In addition to getting financial support for her studies courtesy of Edified Generation - Imbuto Foundation’s program for supporting smart students that come from poor families. With such interventions, in addition to the government’s policies for promoting the education of the girl child, a number of things have changed in the education of the country in regard to how girls are participating. For instance, Dr Alphonse Sebaganwa the Head of the Department of Examination, Selection and Assessment in Rwanda Education Board said that in the last 5 years, the number of girls that sat for Primary 6 national exams has risen from 45 to 55 per cent. “And it is not just about increased quantity, but the quality is also good. Girls are appearing among the best students in science and other studies,” he said. About the Imbuto Foundation: In 2001, under the office of the First Lady of Rwanda, a project dubbed Protection and Care of Families against HIV/AIDS (PACFA) was established to mobilize resources desperately needed in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The initiative primarily focused on providing a holistic approach for dignified lives of families, including women deliberately infected with HIV/AIDS during the Genocide against the Tutsi. In 2007, PACFA changed its name to Imbuto Foundation to reflect its evolution and new fields of activity, through programmes in health, education, youth and economic empowerment.