President Paul Kagame says young people can contribute to nation building by knowing who they are and what they want to achieve for themselves and their respective communities.
The Head of State delivered the message yesterday while officiating at the closure of the ninth edition of civic education training (Itorero) for students at Gabiro School of Infantry in the Eastern Province’s Gatsibo District.
Dubbed Indangamirwa, the course brings together Rwandan youth studying abroad and the best performing secondary school students in Rwanda getting ready to join university.
Itorero Indangamirwa began in 2008 with yesterday’s group marking the 9th intake with 345 students, including 170 boys and 175 girls.
President Kagame encouraged the youth to seize the opportunity to play their role.
“There are some who when called to contribute, would rather look for excuses. Do not run away from playing your role. It is never too late to contribute. Contributing starts with knowing who and what you want to be and doing it with purpose. Let us all leave here with the determination to build our country,” Kagame said.
Highlighting the importance of Itorero in instilling in youth the right kind of values, the President said getting an education does not only mean acquiring skills in school but also good culture and values.
“Itorero has taught you to know what adds value to your lives. It all starts with you and what you want to be. You may say that you want to study and acquire skills but you also have to think about how you will use the skills. Whether you are an engineer or a doctor, you also need to have a sense of humanity, a purpose and a belief in contributing to your community,” he said.
The young intore, as the trainees are commonly called, learnt about the country’s history, past and present Rwandan culture and values, critical thinking, recent socio-economic development and the values that are shaping Rwanda’s future.
The training also involved light military drills and parade, practical mind games and quiz as well as traditional dances.
Itorero trainings have increased awareness and interest among the Rwandan youth in matters concerning their country.
“We can testify that Itorero has helped the youth to understand the importance of Rwandan cultural values in building the country, knowing the country’s history and their role in developing the country and protecting its achievements,” Boniface Rucagu, chairperson of the National Itorero Commission, said at yesterday’s graduation.
Participants who graduated from the training agreed, many of them describing it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity.
“It was an amazing experience. I was able to connect with other Rwandan students from all over the world and learned a lot from them,” said Ritah Gatsinzi Umutesiwase, 18.
For Gatsinzi, the training was a sort of enlightenment about Rwanda, teaching her the country’s values that will always inspire her behaviour.
“We learned about our values as Rwandans, which will help us to find our way in the world and stand out in the global community. People will be able to look at me and tell that I am Rwandan given my good values such as sacrifice, working hard as well as respecting other people,” she said.
Gary Gael Imanzi, 19, said the training helped him improve his Kinyarwanda as he met and interacted with students who live and study in the country. Imanzi lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he is studying business technology.
Jolie Claudette Iramfasha, who spoke on behalf of other students at the event, said the participating youth pledged, among others, to promote unity among Rwandans, teach Rwandan values and language to others and fight drug abuse and human trafficking among other challenges facing the youth.
Kagame told the youth that the country’s life depends on their behaviours and promised them that Indangamirwa courses in the future will be strengthened to include more people and life skills training.
“Every nation has an identity. Ours is defined by you, your contributions and the name your actions give to our country,” Kagame said.