Today was our second day at our Partnership School Groupe Scolaire Bumbogo. Again, we were welcomed with smiles and inquisitive stares. We are getting used to being minor celebrities in Rwanda.
Our first stop was to a satellite school, located 3km away from the primary and secondary site. Here, we met over 150 nursery and primary 1 aged pupils who would normally find it difficult to make the journey to the main site. Distance can often be a barrier to accessing education, so Jean the Headteacher was keen to find a solution to this. There are currently three classrooms, with three more under construction and plans for even more in the near future. This is one of the many ways this school strives for equity, and whilst our school doesn’t face the same difficulties, we do have our own barriers to overcome in Scotland. One of many similarities between our two schools.
After a wee song and dance with the littles, we paid our respects to the local memorial of those lost in the genocide. We were taken in to the crypt, where the remains of loved ones lie together with those from the local community. The sheer amount of memorial sites, each housing several thousand victims is a sobering reminder of just how many lives were lost during the terrible events of 1994. Our pupils, as always, showed the greatest respect despite the harrowing stories and sights they have encountered.
Afterwards, the teachers met with Jean and three other teachers to discuss groups running within the school, with a key focus on gender equality. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised on how forward thinking the school is in addressing the barriers young women can face in education and training. We plan to discuss these further tomorrow in more detail, which I am very much looking forward to. There have also been discussions regarding early childhood experiences, and the after shocks of trauma. Again, a real focus in Scottish education at the moment.
I’m very excited about this partnership. We face many of the same triumphs and difficulties, we teach many of the same subjects, and their S3 are just as full of characters as ours. I really think this will be a real partnership of learning, beneficial to both pupils and teachers.
After lunch, we visited a community near Kabuga to meet with a group of genocide survivors. We were treated to a song, introductions and then we were privileged to hand over ownership of 12 goats. This was a project close to my heart as I had partially funded the purchase of these from a sponsored fire walk earlier this month, and partially funded by the pupils’ earlier bag packing efforts. I am also a fan of goats in general. It was wonderful to see exactly where this fundraising had gone, and how beneficial these animals will be to these families.