Career: Carpentry, the profession that embraces everyone

We continue to see many children who call streets home. These children do not have any skill which they can use to earn a living and the little money they get through illegal activities such as stealing and prostitution is spent on drugs like marijuana and 'petrol' for sniffing which only increases their problems and also causes insecurity in the city.
A  student  of Ihumure during  a practical session recently. (Arnold Agaba)
A student of Ihumure during a practical session recently. (Arnold Agaba)

We continue to see many children who call streets home. These children do not have any skill which they can use to earn a living and the little money they get through illegal activities such as stealing and prostitution is spent on drugs like marijuana and ‘petrol’ for sniffing which only increases their problems and also causes insecurity in the city.

To help street children get off the streets, Eglise Vivante Gatenga started a Vocational Training Centre called Ihumure situated on the highway to Kabuga. The centre offers training to former street children students to equip them with the necessary skills to obtain employment.

The centre started in 2013 and offers one-year courses in carpentry, welding, masonry and electrical engineering.

Speaking to the Education Times recently, the vice principal of Ihumure vocational centre Emmanuel Rubagumya, said: “Our school is church-founded and we take in students from all walks of life. This includes those who know how to read and write and those who don’t.

He says CFI, a German organisation, gives expertise to their technicians and also boosts their capacity by giving them equipment.

Who qualifies for this programme?

This programme is suitable for people of all classes – literate, semi-literate and illiterate and there are two separate intakes at the centre. One is for students who have finished at least O’level while the other is for those without any basic education.

All the students undertaking this programme pay a tuition fee of Rwf70, 000 plus Rwf10, 000 as caution money. The students also have to come to school with an overcoat which they use during practicals, working boots and a national ID.

Most of the street children are sponsored by an organisation called comfort Rwanda which also rents for them a hostel near the school.

Other carpentry schools in Rwanda

However, many other schools offer carpentry courses in Rwanda. They include Rubengera Technical Secondary School located in Karongi district in the Western Province, Kabuga Vocational Training Centre, ESTB Bisogo, Shyorongi Vocational Training Centre, Kivumu Vocational Training Centre, Gaculiro Vocational Training Centre, Gisozi Vocational Centre and Hope Vocational Centre.

At these Vocational training centres, the tuition fees ranges from Rwf70, 000 to Rwf90, 000 per term.

Employment opportunities

Alphonse Kallinda, aged 23 years and a former street child, is all smiles after completing a carpentry course at Ihumure.

“I completed a one year carpentry course in March 2014 and this has enabled me to get a Job in the production unit at my former school. I am now earning my own money and will use these skills to start my own workshop’.

Vocational education in carpentry equips students with skills to work in the mushrooming workshops around Kigali or start their own business if they can. According to research by Education Times, most novices who work in these carpentry workshops around Kigali, earn between Rwf5,000 and Rwf10,000 per day and they can also become self-employed if they have some start-up capital.

Starting business

The main problem students face is lack of start-up capital. However, contrary to what most people think, one does not need a lot of money to start a carpentry workshop.

A person who wants to open up a carpentry workshop but has limited resources can start with the following equipment; a planner which costs Rwf40, 000, a saw of Rwf20, 000, and at least 5 clamps which cost around Rwf70, 000.

One must also buy different types of wood like mahogany and eucalyptus, and also has rent a place at about Rwf150, 000 per month. Also, sand paper of Rwf80,000, a jerry can of varnish which costs Rwf8,000 and glue of Rwf20,000 are needed. In total, one needs between Rwf1.5 million and Rwf2 million to start a carpentry workshop.

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