Olive Niyobyose, a Senior three student from Kirehe District, has been at Nyagatare Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre for two years now.
She is preparing to sit her Ordinary Level national examinations scheduled to start in November.
Recently, Rwanda Correctional Services, in collaboration with Rwanda Education Board (REB) ,authorised the young inmates to sit for examinations for the very first time since the facility was launched in 2014.
The centre accommodates child inmates between the ages of 14 and 18 who are convicted of various crimes. It provides secondary education and vocational training to the juveniles.
“I continued my studies and now I am preparing for national exams. I was brought here when I was in Senior One but Iam now preparing to do my Ordinary Level exams. We had been asking for authorisation to compete with other students, but we had been turned down. Maybe they thought we were not well prepared,” Niyobyose said.
Five juveniles, including one girl, are due to sit the Ordinary Level Examination.
Eleven, including two girls and nine boys, registered to sit Primary Leaving Examinations.
Chaffy Niyonkuru, another inmate student, said they got motivated when they were informed of the green light to sit the national examinations.
“We are not worried of poor performance because we have skilled teachers. Though we were informed late, we have been revising hard and ready to do the exams and hope to shine,” Niyonkuru said.
Jean-Nepomuscene Uzabumwana, a teacher, said staff were working hard to prepare students.
“We welcome the decision to allow students to sit the exams. We taught them and they performed well in class. However, they did not have a chance to sit the national examinations. But with this opportunity, they are now motivated and we hope they perform well,” Uzabumwana said.
During an interview, IP Athanase Nyandwi, said the centre expects to add another level next year.
Nyandwi explained that once a student performs well in national examinations, they will be promoted to a higher level while still serving their sentence.
“When we receive child inmates, there is a programme dubbed, ‘School Orientation Protocol’ where the children get placed in different classes based on their education level and sentences,” he said.
“It is not easy. The decision has come when the exams are around the corner but we are collaborating with districts to prepare the students,” Nyandwi said.
The centre accommodates 297 juveniles, among them 22 girls.