Last week, International Youth Fellowship (IYF), in partnership with Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC)-Kigali, held a three-day conference on mind education at the institute in Kicukiro District.
Mind education, according to officials, cultivates a sound mindset which enables members of the community, most importantly the youth, to overcome difficult circumstances, commit to their duties, and prevent things such as physical abuse, abandoning, cruel treatment, and suicide among others, that are major challenges faced by the young generation and other people in general.
The main objective was to build leadership, confidence and positive mind-set skills among the students at the school.
IYF is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to the improvement of the community through educational systems, global fellowships and international relations intended at developing leaders of the next generations and construction of a radiant health society.
Participants during the conference at IPRC-Kigali. Lydia Atieno
According to Kim Jong Duk, a mind education specialist working with IYF in Rwanda, says the aim of mind education is to set a happy family and school, and to furthermore establish a happy society through the restoration of a bright and healthy mindset.
Why this is relevant to students?
Duk says this kind of education helps change the minds of young people for them to also change their environment and society.
In Rwanda, he says, the IYF is sharpening the minds of the youth and other people to be self– generated intellectuals, under three projects—international fellowship, free education project and social voluntary works.
He says due to the development of material civilisation which pursues convenience and comfort and encourages absence of communication between people through the development of IT technologies, minds are ‘destroyed’ and there is a huge impact that comes with this, including suicide, game and drug addictions, among others, which affect the young generation mostly.
However, Duk notes that by encouraging mind education, it helps them overcome difficult circumstances, commit to their duties, and prevent bad vices that are common nowadays.
Blaise Nyiribakwe, another mind education specialist and therapist, says that regarding new approaches to building the leaders of tomorrow, mind education helps transcend their limitations and standards, and establishes sound character formation and a strong foundation for leadership.
Nyiribakwe says it also enhances spiritual and mental growth and expands global awareness and intercultural tolerance, and develops critical thinking and leadership skills, which are all important to any learner in this era.
Teaching learners to overcome challenges
Amwel Nyaga Njeru, an academic teacher and mind education volunteer in Rwanda, says the youth are facing different problems in society and the environment they are in; bringing them together gives them a chance to share their stories, which in the end helps them motivate each other.
He says, through mind education, learners are taught how to have a strong heart and a positive mindset, how to tackle problems given the tools that help them realise that there is a way out.
For instance, Njeru says that as a leader, one can see things from a different perceptive.
So this means that when a learner has leadership skills, they understand that they can be wrong sometimes.
“This is a fundamental skill and aspect for any learner because it helps them learn how to work with others and listen to them at the same time,” he says.
Njeru says this helps young people learn from others and gives the opportunity for others to express what they feel.
He adds that when this kind of education is given to them, their approach and critical thinking will definitely not be the same because they understand what working with others means.
Aime’ Luvale, the director of IYF Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says mind education helps build the minds of young people which in turn will be used to shape their country.
He says that this is because the skills and teachings from mind education include helping the youth understand that being poor is not because there is lack of money or resources, but a poor mindset.
“Helping the youth change their mindset changes their lives and the world at large. This is just an example of teaching people how to face problems as opposed to running away from them,” he says.
The problem of young people nowadays, he says, is that they don’t know how to overcome situations and challenges whenever they are faced with them and the only way out is to engage in harmful behaviour.
He says these vices don’t solve their problems, instead, they end up ruining their lives.
“Once mind education is instilled in the young generation, they learn how to overcome and see things from another perspective,” he adds.
For instance, Luvale says most of them always see the challenges they are facing as the end of life, but when they learn different skills through this kind of education, they are able to discover hidden opportunities and develop a better mind to go beyond their setbacks.
Additionally, he notes that young people don’t have the power to overcome situations; they give up easily. But with guidance, it’s easy for them to overcome the hurdles.
“We want young people to discover themselves, but this can’t happen if they are left on their own. It’s better to be guided and also helped to work with and learn from others,” Luvale says.
Njeru points out that connecting and working together also helps them discover and build their talents.
Nyiribakwe says that in order for the youth to do the things they are passionate about, they should be helped to nurture a sense of self-control as well.
“This is necessary for any young person since one’s self-control is a safety device that allows them to make the most of their youth,” Njeru says.
Students from IPRC Kigali share their views
Seif Cyimana Bigamba, Air conditioning & refrigeration student
Mind education has given me the most essential lessons in life that I didn’t learn in school. On top of the formal education we get from schools, personally, I now understand that the skills and knowledge acquired can be used not only to serve others but also change society at large.
Julienne Mukeshimana, Electronic telecommunication student
The most important aspect I have come to realise through mind education is that if you work hard to make money, you must also be ready to change your mind set. If this doesn’t happen, all your efforts will bear no fruits.
Aline Musabeyezu, Civil engineering student
It’s important to learn from others despite their level of education or financial status. This is a big issue among learned people, especially the youth. They are confined to school knowledge, but this kind of education helps us understand the importance of approaching different people, learning from them and sharing what we have.
Narcisse Imanirahari, Final year student
For young people out there, coming up with a business plan or something to do can be easy depending on the availability of resources. However, challenges are a major setback. Most of them give up easily because they don’t know how to overcome them, and this is what is special about mind education because it takes us through all this.
Pauline Niyonkuru, Civil engineering student
Helping our communities is important, I have learnt that there is a lot we can do to improve the lives of our people without necessarily helping them financially. Changing their mindset on how they should perceive things is what is needed.