In Rwanda, the youth constitute 61 percent of the active labor force. They are full of energy and carry great hopes, dreams and expectations for their future. Gloria Iribagiza asked a cross section of them what their expectations of the government and the UN are. Here below are their responses.
“I would wish that the Government can help some of the youth who have finished primary school to continue studying because most parents from poor homes cannot afford to pay school fees for further studies. That is why many youth drop out of school to work on farms or go to the city to look for small jobs. Maybe if I went back to study, I might become a teacher or even a doctor to help others.”
Marie-Louise Uwineza, Nyanza District, Southern Province
“What the youth need are more technical schools that will train them on vocational skills that can be used to get jobs and improve their lives. Sometimes even when these programmes are brought here and talked about on radio, many youth do not understand what they are about and so more sensitisation is needed to educate rural youth on the available resources that can benefit them.”
Chantal Nyiransabimana, Cleaner, Rusizi District, Western Province
“I would like to go back to school and study more about business so that I can learn how to make money, start a business and improve my life. Sometimes we remain poor because we are not educated and do not know how to do many things that make money.”
EUGENE Niyomugabo, Musanze District, Northern Province
“I would say that we the youth have more to thank the Government of Rwanda for, than to actually demand. The Government has facilitated and funded many youth projects that have empowered us on different levels. “Nevertheless, we expect more investment in youth initiatives to develop other youth in rural areas. And when it comes to the UN, we expect that they will involve Rwanda’s youth in Global Youth Summits and projects. There is much potential in Rwanda’s youth and these institutions have the capacity to nurture and groom these talents from us.”
FRIDAY James-, Architect Student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology
“The Government of Rwanda and the United Nations have a big role to play when it comes to developing the youth sector—they need to empower and assist them to be the change that the country needs. What young people need most are skills that enable them to acquire knowledge, nurture the potential within themselves so as to keep moving forward and shape their future. If you invest in the youth, you invest in the future; if you don’t invest in the future, you are only playing with time. The youth are the bright future of Rwanda and we need to have brilliant, motivated and empowered young minds.”
DAVID Gilbert Rwabigwi Author and Founder of High School Review
“By nurturing forgiveness in the next generation of Rwanda, the youth must put education at the forefront of their ambitions. We believe that the ability to attain quality education will help Rwandans to cope with the past, and this way they will discover a world of their own. “Should Rwandans continue to live in misery of loss? No; it is very crucial to create a generation free from destructive ideologies. Once the Government empowers communities, it should help them to realise the hidden treasures that were once exploited in the past. It is very important to note that unity and reconciliation is the only way we have to unify our country and world.”
REMY Manzi CEO of the Kevis Foundation
“The youth are positive about creating a better future with the hope of seeing their inclusiveness in the governance of all sectors in Rwanda. Without the inclusiveness of the youth in the these aspects, then the future will not be clear for them. As youth, our expectations are high for transparency and accessibility of quality social services, such as; access to health, subsidised education opportunities, employment where skills training will make some job creators while others with the education can access employment in the public sector. These services should be available to all youth countrywide.”
DONNA Akaliza, Development Worker, Kigali.
“I would wish that more programmes which educate women and young girls about their health are brought to our villages. If this happened, many girls like me would be going to school and not be raising children. I also would like to start a business where I can get money to improve my life and that of my daughter by educating her.”
GISELLE Alice Mukampundu Single mother, Nyamata, Bugesera District.
“I know that UN is doing a lot to stop poverty in Rwanda and if they focus more on the youth, their goal would be attained in the shortest time possible. Through investing in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) more youth would be reached. “Additionally, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are general and not particular when it comes to focusing on youth empowerment. There should be an MDG for the youth—this way a lot of progress will be attained since youth are the most active population in any country.”
INNOCENT Ninsiima- President, Commonwealth Youth Caucus - Rwanda Chapter
“My expectation of the Government and UN is that they continue to encourage, support and invest in girl’s education—especially for those in rural areas. There are several girls who are brilliant but lack funding to pursue higher education. Also, there is the mentality that girls in the rural areas should stay home and do housework while their brothers go to school. As a result, they miss out on the opportunity to get educated and make informed choices when it comes to their reproductive health rights and most end up with early pregnancies out of ignorance or worse, rape. When you educate a girl, you educate a nation.”
JOSELYN Uwera Businesswoman, Kigali