The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, has urged female students to reject anything that can distract their education.
She was speaking yesterday at the official launch of the Rwandan Women and Girls’ Month and the national campaign to reward Best Performing Girls (Inkubito z’Icyeza) and the Guardian Angels (Malayika Murinzi), in an event held in Ubworoherane stadium, Musanze District.
This year’s theme for Women and Girls’ Month in Rwanda is “Gender Equality that Promotes Family Dignity”.
At the occasion, about 87 best performing girls from the districts of Musanze, Rubavu, Gakenke, Burera, Nyabihu and Rulindo were recognised for their outstanding performance in last year’s national exams.
The best performing girls are last year’s Primary six (80), senior three (two) and six leavers (five).
The outstanding primary and senior three leavers were awarded with scholastic materials, and cash while those from senior six were given laptops and cash.
“The girl child today is faced with many challenges that distract their education such as pregnancy while at school. As parents we should join hands and fight this,” Mrs Kagame said.
She called on girls to focus on their education and shun anything that can hamper their education dreams.
“Parents should support their daughters to overcome the challenges they face in schools and we should offer a helping hand to those who are victims of pregnancy so they can have a better life.”
Mrs Kagame observed that, if girls are acquainted with the importance of dignity, it can help them to set and accomplish their goals to be responsible parents in future.
The Rewarding Best Performing Girls campaign began in Rwanda in 2005 in an effort to promote girls’ education.
Under the leadership of the First Lady, Imbuto Foundation aimed to encourage high academic performances among school girls through combined efforts of the community, parents, teachers and local leaders.
Approximately 3,460 girls have been rewarded since the project began. More than 400 girls will this year be recognised for their performances. Most will receive school materials and those leaving S6 will be rewarded with laptops.
The colourful event that attracted thousands of Musanze residents and senior government officials also marked the International Women’s day.
At the occasion, 23 guardian angels were given cows and certificates for showing remarkable compassion and selflessness, by adopting and caring for orphaned children.
Since its first edition, more than 280 “Malayika Murinzi” have been rewarded. This year, about 70 will be acknowledged with a certificate and a dairy cow.
Mrs Kagame urged parents to use the women’s month to not only address the challenges in the families, but to use the platform to chart the way forward for a better and self sustainable families.
“I thank all the girls who performed well at different levels of education and the guardian angels who look after the orphaned children. I am impressed by their great work,” she said.
The First Lady called on leaders and parents to resist the culture of orphanages and adopt children in their families.
She thanked the One UN family for partnering with the government to promote girls education and all the stakeholders who help the National Children’s Commission in removing children from orphanages.
“I thank Imbuto Foundation for supporting my education. This gift inspires me to perform even better in schools,” said Milleire Devota, 19, one of the best performing students. She got a distinction in her senior six leaver’s exams (English, French and Kinyarwanda). She plans to do law at the university.
According to the Minister of Gender and Family promotion, Oda Gasinzigwa, girls need a lot of support from their parents to complete their education.
“We thank the First Lady for empowering girls and women to preserve their dignity,” she said, urging girls to put education first in their plans.
Patricia Mukankusi, 75, one of the guardian angels expressed gratitude to the First Lady for giving them cows. “I have adopted four children, the youngest is 13, and others have grown up. We should help orphaned children to grow in families and I am committed to do that,” she said.
Following this launch, Imbuto Foundation will continue to reward best performing girls and guardian angels throughout the rest of the country.
Yesterday, the First Lady rewarded some of last year’s best female students and parents/guardians who exhibited compassion in the Northern Province. The New Times’ Sam K Nkurunziza talked to some of the girls.
Dévote Karatuje, 19
I am extremely happy and this is a timely reward because I put in a lot of efforts and I was confident to excel during my national exams.
Diane Iradukunda, 19
The reward from the First Lady is an indication that the leaders in this country are committed to the development and equality of gender issues.
Emerithe Nakure, 15
Having excelled in rural Rwanda, I look forward to being a doctor and getting recognised as one of the best girl students. This is certainly an inspiration for me.
Leatitia Umwari, 13
It is a motivation to know that top government officials care about the promotion of the girl child. There is no better reward than go through this experience.