With A-level results out last week, IGNATIUS SSUUNA and FLORENCE MUTESI spoke to two of the highest achieving students to find out how they did so well and what the future holds.
Aloys Zunguzungu, 20, said that being in the top 19 in the country was beyond his wildest dreams. He was confident when he put his pen down at the end of his exams that he would have done well, but he never thought he’d do so well.
Zunguzungu was at his home in Nyarugenge District in Kigali when the good news reached him. His sisters and brothers could not believe the news that that Zunguzungu emerged the best in Kigali.
“I expected to do well, but I didn’t expect to be among the best 19 students countrywide,” he said.
“This was a pleasant surprise and I thank God for it.”
He says with a joyful smile that he had overcome numerous odds including grinding poverty to emerge the best among Kigali City schools.
“I lost my parents when I was young. I have learnt to work hard,” Zunguzungu begins.
“But the challenge lies ahead. Life at university I imagine is very challenging,” Zunguzungu says in a cool voice.
“After sitting exams last year we become nervous because we didn’t know we would pass. Now, we have no idea about how life is at the university,” Zunguzungu said on behalf of other classmates.
His former classmates at the Lycée de Kigali, one of the city based schools, had an equally pleasant surprise; their teachers, parents and local community of the school are all full of joy.
Curious spectators, who watched Zunguzungu being interviewed by The Sunday Times drew closer, and upon learning of his success, carried him shoulder-high singing his praises.
“He has brought honour to his school. We wish him well in his endeavors,” they said in chorus.
Zunguzungu majored in mathematics and physics. The boy, whose favourite subject was English where he scored an A, said he had to wake up very early in the morning and walk to school from home, and study until 6.30pm before going back. He would do more studies after supper before retiring to bed.
He attributed his success to God: “With God everything is possible,” he said.
“But hard work also counts. Nobody can expect success against background of laziness,” he added. Time management is important. He made sure “there was time for study and time for play.
“Idleness is a devil’s workshop,” he stresses. He also said that he made sure that extra-activities don’t conflict with his academic work.
As a Christian, involved in church and a prefect at school, there was the danger that such would interrupt his studies but he made every effort to put his studies first.
“My teachers supported me in all,” he explained.
“I had all I needed to make me perform better.”
But as the friends celebrated the good news, Zunguzungu cautioned those still in secondary not to leave things for chance.
The second-born in a family of five, wants to join Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) to study civil engineering. Even though he scored 9.1 points he is not certain government will sponsor him.
For Aline Maniragena, 21, news of her emerging the fourth best student among nineteen best candidates country filtered through last Saturday evening.
“I was listening to National then I heard our results had been released. Then somebody said I was among the best. I just walked with my head high,” Maniragena said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Though she expected to perform well, Maniragena confesses she did not anticipate becoming fourth countrywide.
“I thank God because the Lord has been my guide throughout my life,” Maniragena says.
When asked what the future holds, Maniragena said that even with her score of 9.8 points, she fears she will not be able to finance university. She is worried money will frustrate her dreams of a better life. But she hopes very much to be able to get to university.
“I don’t know how it feels to be at campus but I guess it must be wonderful. You know, the kind of without guardians watching you every time,” she enthused.
Joseph Murekeraho, Minister of State in charge of primary and secondary education, said last week that the government will not be able to sponsor all the students.
“I don’t know whether the government will pay my tuitions. Otherwise, I cannot afford it,” Maniragena worries.
She is the fourth child in the family of ten. She says her parents, Agnes Kamundeya and Father Habyarimana Ekimayi, are very happy with her.