Creating pathways to support students into self-employment

Ishimwe (right) with Gatera and their products. Lydia Atieno

For students to be interested in more than just their chosen field of study, it goes beyond class work. For instance, educators believe that extracurricular activities are important as they create an interdisciplinary environment for students to thrive.

At Riviera High School, among the various extracurricular activities they have at the school, are clubs for students to join, depending on what they are passionate about. 

Josiana Ishimwe and Audrey Gatera, both senior five students, together with another eight classmates, are in the art club.

The students acquire skills in making different products for sale through the club.

Handbags, cufflinks, bracelets, necklaces, key holders, and earrings are some of the products the students make using local materials.

Ishimwe, the president of the club, says they started making the products last year and the club has been making tremendous progress since.

They do this mostly during school holidays, and then sell the products during ‘invitation days’ at their school.

The money earned from these products, Ishimwe says, is used to help vulnerable people in the community around their school.

“We go into the community, identify needy families, especially children who need school fees and other needs, and assist where possible with the money from our work,” she says.

They have a chart for when and who to help; the members also share the remaining money amongst themselves; it enables them to buy some scholastic materials and keep some as pocket money.

With the help of their entrepreneur teacher, the students also get to learn how to use their money productively.

The students are optimistic that after they are done with school, they will have the opportunity to empower themselves and others though creating employment.

Other skills

Audrey Gatera, one of the members of the club, says being in the club gives them the opportunity to interact with other people, adding that people have different attitudes and behaviours. However, when they come together—especially when doing the same thing—they learn how to work as one.

“During studies, sometimes it is difficult to interact with all the students, but through these activities, we gain various skills, including communication and interaction,” she says.

She says the club also helps them be more open to the world today; they find solutions to day-to-day tasks.

Gatete urges schools to aim at helping students create clubs that fit their interests, community and environment. This, she explains, helps students understand each other better, a skill that can be used long after school. 

“There are skills that a learner can’t gain when they are fixed on theory work, but when they are exposed to other extracurricular activities, it helps broaden their minds,” she adds.

Why clubs are important

Ronald Wandira, the head of humanities department at the school, says they normally give a go-ahead to creative minds and that’s why as a school, they have many clubs.

He says such clubs help students discover the inner abilities in themselves, which is the hidden talent that can be exposed once given an opportunity.

This work done, he says, is commendable because they see these products in shops and other known exhibitions yet their own students are making them while they are still in school.

“This is how grand industries start; they start small then later grow into bigger textile industries. Such work helps build the foundation for students’ future plans because this is a talent and no one can take away,” he says.

Wandira says such students can be job creators and impact their community positively.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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