Last week , The State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education Hon. Dr. Isaac Munyakazi together with the Mayor of Gatsibo district Mr. Richard Gasana and UNHCR Protection Officer Ms. Elsie Bertha Mills-Tettey inaugurated 16 new classrooms and a block of latrines constructed in Nyabicwamba primary school and Groupe Scolaire Nyabiheke located in Gatsibo district.
The project represents a 300,000 USD investment that will dramatically improve the learning environment for 736 refugee and host community students living and studying together in Gatsibo district.
In his address, MoS Dr. Isaac Munyakazi reiterated the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to receiving people who are forced to flee their homes and provide equal treatment for both nationals and refugees living in Rwanda.
“The Government of Rwanda doesn’t segregate children when it comes to preparing their future. The wellbeing we wish for our citizens, the same we do for our neighbors. We wish them to prosper, their kids to get proper education and feel safe,” he said.
“If people cannot get what they deserve in their countries, Rwanda is a safe haven for anyone who has been mistreated, and we give equal access to quality services for both Rwandans and refugees.”
MoS Dr. Isaac also commended the great work done by the UN Refugee Agency in Rwanda to ensure that refugee children and host communities have optimal access to education, including provision of learning materials, provision/construction of adequate learning spaces, etc.
“We are here to witness that the construction of these classrooms is a fruit of joint efforts, both by the Government of Rwanda and UNHCR. We thank the UNHCR for providing excellent education for our children and our neighbors’ children,” he said.
Worldwide of the 19.9 million refugees under UNHCR protection, 7.4 million are of school age. In some part of the world their access to education is limited, with 4 million unable to attend school. In Rwanda, over 44,000 refugee children are enrolled in primary and secondary education. In the framework of CRRF (the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework) the Government of Rwanda has made concrete commitments towards inclusion of all refugees in national services including in the area of education. UNHCR partners with the government to ensure that school-going-age refugee children in Rwanda are guaranteed quality protective education through their integration into the national school system alongside Rwandan students from the host community.
UNHCR Protection Officer Ms. Mills-Tettey highly praised the Government of Rwanda for giving priority to the integration of refugee children into the national education system.
“On behalf of UNHCR, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Rwanda for hosting refugees for decades, and particularly for ensuring protection and access to education for the refugee children,” she said.
Congolese refugee students from Nyabiheke camp make more than 95% of Nyabicwamba primary school students. Given long distance and shortage of secondary schools in the region, the Hon. Isaac requested further bilateral cooperation to build more classrooms and strengthen the capacity of the Nyabicwamba to upgrade it up to a secondary school.
Rwanda is home to more than 149,000 refugees mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.
The Regional Refugee Response Plan for the Congolese situation in Rwanda remains severely underfunded. As of 31 April, the funding met only one per cent ($244,729) of the $38.7 million that is needed to provide assistance to nearly 76 thousand Congolese refugees living in Rwanda. Limited funding is affecting UNHCR ability to provide adequate level of assistance and livelihoods services to refugees, especially to young people (52.8% of the Congolese population is under 17 years).
By: Eugene Sibomana
The Express News