School clubs are becoming a reliable tool to instill a sense of fraternity and creativity among students.
Student clubs are associations that carry out specific activities, and membership is voluntary. Students can subscribe to multiple clubs at the same time.
Through the clubs, they carry out outreach activities to support disadvantaged people in the community as well as address challenges facing their schools.
With 20 clubs and 1,500 students, Lycée de Kigali (LDK) in Nyarugenge District is one of the schools making good use of the clubs.
Last year, one of the clubs at the school, the Association of Student Genocide survivors (AERG) came up with an idea to mobilise funds to support a Genocide widow in Gatsata Sector in Nyarugenge.
The objective is to raise Rwf2m to construct a house for the homeless ailing woman.
Club members organised two fundraisers at the school last year and collected a total of Rwf200,000.
Although they are still far from their target, the students are optimistic that they will make it within two years.
“We still have more fundraising strategies. We are now preparing a concert to attract more people and we shall commit entrance proceeds to our cause,” said Regis Nshimiyimana, the head of the club.
At the national level, AERG is credited with championing the ‘artificial household’ model where members organise themselves into families, made of a dozen students.
The family members meet on a regular basis, share their problems and together find solutions.
The ‘children’ in the family can be rebuked, by the ‘parents’ when they err.
A part from activities by AERG-LDK chapter, which, for this year were dedicated to communities outside school, other clubs have generally been attending to their classmates’ needs.
Hope for the Needy club members collect money for their classmates with social needs.
Laban Balongo, the teacher who is in charge of coordinating clubs’ activities at Lycée, said club members remind their classmates of the importance of giving to the needy every morning.
He said through these contributions, two former students are now pursuing degree courses at the University of Rwanda after fellow students collected over Rwf 500,000 towards their tuition.
The Environment Protection and Entrepreneurship clubs promote production and innovation.
“Our clubs are good forums through which we impart civic education and nurture a confident and determined future generation,” said Father Francois Kabayiza, the director of Groupe Scolaire Cyanika, Nyamagabe District.
For them, focus was put on conflict resolution, where students learn to solve disputes between them amicably, through the club of justice and peace.
They also have a club for the fight against genocide ideology.
At this school, students also learn several foreign languages through Club Tuseme.
Some school clubs are supported by external actors who design advocacy messages for dissemination into school communities. A case in point is the unity and reconciliation club which has a presence in almost all high schools across the country.
According to Bishop John Rucyahana, the president of National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, the clubs help them reach the student community.
“They are voluntary groups. We train them on how to train their peers about the country‘s history and to sensitise them on their shared responsibility in building Rwanda,” he said.
The commission organises contests on unity and reconciliation in schools, where students present poems and songs and conduct debates on reconciliation efforts.
According to Janvier Gasana, the deputy director in charge of quality and standards at Rwanda Education Board, school clubs play an important role in education.
Citing the example of the unity and reconciliation clubs, he said: “They give the youth an opportunity to understand the country’s history and decide on the path to take from an informed point of view.”
Gasana added that such clubs promote language proficiency and help children grow in critical thinking.