The first batch of the former street children enrolled at Iwawa Rehabilitation and Development Skills Centre, are set to graduate in April.
The Minister of Youth, Protais Mitali, announced this, yesterday, during an interview with The New Times.
“We are now in preparations, together with private partners to organize the graduation ceremony which is scheduled in the next two months,” Mitali said in a telephone interview.
The course, Mitali said, takes a maximum of one year.
The centre offers five vocational courses, including carpentry, commercial farming and bee keeping.
It also offers English and Swahili language lessons. The Rubavu-based centre currently has over 1,100 trainees – all male.
It was established in February last year to receive street children and drug addicts, mostly from Kigali City, to help them acquire skills.
“Presently, we are identifying those who will graduate because they joined the centre at various intervals and with varied educational backgrounds,” said Mitali
Mitali said that the ministry would establish a female wing of the centre to extend the same programmes to street girls.
“We are now setting up the infrastructure which we hope to be complete in the next six months,” Mitali explained, adding that about Rwf 1billion has so far been spent on the centre since its inception.
He dismissed speculations that those picked up by the police on the streets are detained at Iwawa.
“No one is detained. They take them to Gikondo Transit Centre where they are screened before they are taken to Iwawa. This is a programme that was initiated to prevent crimes and help the youth acquire skills,” he noted.
Esperance Kayitesi, the Coordinator of Gikondo Transit Centre, clarified that those transferred to Iwawa are aged between 18 and 35 years.
She said that the centre spends about Rwf 200m annually to cater for the children.
Kayitesi added that those between 7 and 17 years old are taken to eight Street Children Centres, across the country.
The Gikondo centre now has 180 children who get counselling, hygiene and civic education lessons. They are also tested for HIV. Those found to be infected are allocated to health centres where they get medication.