KIGALI - A cross-section of students drawn from several universities across the country are full of praise for the Toastmasters program after its six months in Rwanda.
The students gathered at the School of Finance and Banking (SFB), yesterday, for the toastmasters’ summit.
Implemented by Imbuto Foundation in partnership with UN Women, the toastmasters Club aims at equipping university students with dynamic skills in the art of public speaking, analytical listening and building self confidence.
Speaking to The New Times, a member of the SFB toastmasters club Emma Kayonde, said that it had equipped her with self-expression skills.
“You can be learned and knowledgeable, but all those would be nothing if you cannot express yourself,” Kayonde said, adding that being a member has helped raise her confidence.
For Mike Rutuku, a student at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), the club has been an overwhelming experience.
“Expressing myself in anyway and at any allocated time has become an easy equation to solve,” says Rutuku, an electronics and telecommunication engineering student. He stressed that the club had enhanced his leadership skills.
Janvier Umazekabiri from the National University of Rwanda said that he learnt how to organise and deliver public speeches.
“Every word, gesture, move, look and emotion counts to the audience,” Umazekabiri said. He added that he is learning to set his goals as well as ensure their success.
Speaking at the summit, the Deputy Director General of Imbuto Foundation, Nina Shalita, pointed out that youth empowerment is one of Imbuto Foundation’s core activities.
“Setting up toastmasters clubs was one way in which we could build confidence amongst our youth and most importantly introduce them to the art of public speaking,” Shalita said.
“A key characteristic of leadership is the ability to communicate to people effectively and confidently and this is what we are committed to foster in our youth as early as possible.”
Shalita added that the few months of the programme show a lot of changes amongst the members and has yielded positive results.
At the meeting, the youth were able to articulately discuss various topics, demonstrating the art of public speaking.
The university Toastmasters Clubs is affiliated to Toastmasters Club International, which is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.
With headquarters in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization has more than 260,000 members in over 12,500 clubs in 113 countries. Since 1924, more than 4 million people around the world have become more confident speakers and leaders because of their participation in Toastmasters.
In Rwanda, the clubs are now found at NUR, SFB and KIST where every club has 20 members. For continuity, there is a proposal that the initiative be factored in university curricula and be replicated in all universities across the country.