The United States Ambassador to Rwanda has urged the country’s girls to engage themselves in education.
Ambassador Erica Barks-Ruggles expressed this on Friday January 19, 2018 at the sponsors of MindLeaps’ Girls LEAD initiative dance and performance event in Kigali that comprised story-telling from among former street girls that have been educated under the same program.
“This innovative program combines the readership and entrepreneurship training which will help 60 young girls and equip them with the necessary tools to start and maintain small businesses,” said Barks.
“They will be able to think about their future in this useful region. In 2027 you will be the majority of the population so you are very important to this country.” Barks told the girls.
Ambassador Barks-Ruggles was addressing the need for Rwanda to empower girl education which is helpful in transforming girls’ lives and developing the next generation of Rwandan leaders.
The Girls LEAD initiative, which the U.S. Embassy supported through a $10,000 grant, uses dance to help at-risk youth girls overcome their social challenges and then provides specialized entrepreneurship training.
MindLeaps is an American NGO that uses dance to develop the cognitive skills of at-risk youth.
In Rwanda, MindLeaps’ safe space in Kigali serves 90 children a day with support services, including academic lessons, English language, IT, nutrition and Sexual and Reproductive Health workshops.
Upon completion of the program, students are sponsored to go to school, whereby 70% of MindLeaps students perform in the top 20% of their academic classes.
The education that the girls have undergone is showing a good thing they have achieved, said Francois Bisengimana Acting Executive Secretary in the National Commission for Children (NCC).
“The 2012 census shows that women and girls represent 52% of the population thus need education for the future of the country. Government is helpful in ensuring that policies and strategies make possible the education of girls by removing all the barriers,” Bisengimana said.
Girls and their families should take advantage, he noted, of the present opportunities offered by government and partners.
“Education starts at home and throughout a school. We are happy to be part of this supportive journey. We realize many young people in Rwanda need education to be healthier and productive,” said Liana Nzabampema, the Senegal Family Foundation Program Officer.
Sifa is an 18 year old girl that had previously faced difficult times in continuing education in a family of five because the father could not pay fees for all. She dropped out in senior 2.
Later on, she heard of the MindLeaps program and decided to join and took courage in the dancing classes.
“I then got the education and have hope that I will achieve what I want to.” Sifa expressed.
The unusual dance and performing event took place at the White Dove Girls School Rwanda, in Kacyiru.
MindLeaps’ Rwandan staff works with 65 children ages 9-18 daily in order to provide a “catch up” program for street youth and out-of-school youth who have never had the chance to go to school and become literate.