In 2016, the Government, through the Ministry of Education, rolled out a new curriculum (competency-based curriculum) envisioning improved quality of education by equipping the country’s future labour force with the needed skills to reshape the human capital.
The gist lied in implementation, which called for huge investment in all corners, from training teachers to forming an enabling environment, which did not prove to be an easy task.
But three years down the road, noticeable strides have been made which are proving to be impactful with spill over effect.
Ange Fauny Uwera, a 17-year-old senior five student at College Sainte Marie Kibuye, says she can now make liquid soap, table mats and indoor carpets, thanks to the training in entrepreneurship she has been receiving at her school.
Students of Gashora Girls explain their project to judges.
Uwera is a member of her school’s entrepreneurship club (Future Destiny) with a population of 184 students making liquid soap, shoe cream, table mats and, they also have rabbit and chicken farms on the school’s compound.
With a small contribution from every member, they were able to raise Rwf 70,000; money they used as seed capital to buy materials for their first products.
The group got a boost after making sales worth Rwf 250,000.
19-year-old Mupezi Munyaneza, a student of Ecole Secondaire Gasange, is a member of his school’s business club (Bright Star Business Club), with 324 members who are benefiting from the curriculum.
Munyaneza and his colleagues have been able to raise Rwf 740,000 as seed capital and they made sales worth Rwf 1,424,350 from items they make at school (mushroom powder, paints, liquid soap, grinded tea leaves and woven baskets).
Munyaneza says that they have been able to record such huge revenue from their project sales because they were able to find a solution to a problem battering the school community and the district.
“If you look at our sales, major per cent is the mushroom, this is because our school is located in Gatsibo District, which is one of the districts grappling with malnutrition. So because of its nutrient capacity, as part of the project, we decided to grow and produce mushrooms in raw and powdered form so as we can sell them to the community,” he says.
Uwera and Munyaneza are among the students from 400 secondary schools that have been able to have a touch with practical skills, still at high school level.
How does it work?
Ministry of Education through Rwanda Education Board (REB), in partnership with Educate, an international non-government organisation that provides technical support under the competence based curriculum, came up with a programme to spark off entrepreneurship in secondary schools.
Under the programme, teachers, head teachers, district education officers and sector education officers, are given training in entrepreneurship and business development to transfer knowledge to students, helping them to come up with innovative and sustainable business ideas and create solutions to the problem faced by their communities.
According to Donnalee Donaldson, Country Director of Educate, students are made to form business clubs at their respective schools where they present individual ideas under the guidance of a teacher and a training facilitator.
The students are required to contribute a small amount of money to be used to fund their projects.
Donaldson says that similar vigorous training is given to students, from business development to financial management, of which students present their projects.
After choosing the best project, students under their business clubs compete on a district level by presenting what they have been able to make, process or manufacture, and the winning school from each district gets a ticket to feature at the national level.
The national business clubs compete and are awarded in various categories; overall winner, best financial managing club, innovation, gender balance, and sustainability—the overall winner is awarded Rwf 300,000.
This year, Bright Star Business Club from Ecole Secondaire Gasange from Gatsibo District was the overall winner.
Florian Rutiyomba, Director of Humanities and Art Unit Curriculum in Teaching and Learning Resources Department from Rwanda Education Board, says that during the training, they make sure that each and every student understands and is equipped with various skills like craft making, bookkeeping, and business development, among others.
Rutiyomba says that students are introduced to minimum requirements needed by Rwanda Standards Board so that they are nurtured at an early stage to think about how they can improve the quality of what they produce.
The programme is now available in 11 districts, 400 teachers and 20,000 students have been trained, and at the end of this year, seven more districts will be added on the list, bringing the number of districts to 18.