In the quest to advocate for women access to higher education, the University of Rwanda-College of Education in collaboration with Women’s Leadership Programme (WLP) conducted a campaign on women education. The initiative follows the existing unequal opportunities between women and men towards the access to higher education which hamper women’s ability to lift themselves from poverty and secure improved options to improve their lives and that of their communities.
Some of the participants during the workshop
Speaking at the campaign, Bishop John Rucyahana who facilitated the function said that the core element of the campaign is to change people’s mentality about girls’ education. He also noted that women have been sidelined for quite a long time and the society did not recognize their values and potential as vindicated by their status quo.
“Girls have always been reckoned as the occupants of households and their responsibility is attributed to procreate and raise children…,” he observed. Rucyahana called on participants to give significant values to their children especially girls for them to have access to all levels of education in a bid to help the country achieve its prosperity. He added that parents should inculcate in their children the spirit of confidence so that they become catalysts of development and take a lead in leadership roles. He also slammed some of the factors that impede women’s education and eventually lead to school dropout including girls trafficking, sexual violence and harassment, unwanted pregnancies which jeopardize their hope for life.
Among the participants in the campaign was Donatille Mukayiranga, who is a high school tutor; in her remarks, she reiterated that parents and guardians should instill into girls confidence and self-esteem to accomplish what boys can. She criticized some parents who mishandle their responsibilities by allocating tasks to children based on their gender. According to her, home should be a level playing field and allocation of duties should be on the basis of one’s capacity and merit. He further encouraged girls to take on TVET for them to mark their presence in different domains and therefore be more self-reliant.
Benjamin Mushuhukye is the Liaison Officer for WLP; he pointed out that researches have shown that women’s exclusion starts at primary level whereby in most cases tutors are clueless on gender aspect and therefore very little about gender is transmitted to pupils.
“Following gender gap in education, WLP has designed an in-service programme meant to equip primary tutors with a Diploma in gender studies” he revealed, adding that the project is now paving the way for further Government initiatives by working closely with Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) which are mandated to train teachers at primary level.
In his remarks, Dr Otara Alfred who is the Deputy Dean of the School of Education and also doubles as the WLP Project Investigator charged the participants that as teachers and parents they have a responsibility to fulfill their assignment by inspiring and encouraging children to meet their expectations.
“Once you do your work and you know that you made a difference in one or two kids’ life; that is a fulfillment and a joy in itself” Otara said.
WLP is a project that fosters strategies to promote gender awareness in classroom through targeted outreach, conducting institutional capacity building activities, creating distance learning programme, and promoting gender-sensitive teaching and research approaches. The projected was initiated by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), managed by Higher Education for Development (HED) and funded by USAID. The campaign reached Nyabihu and Kayonza Districts in the East and West respectively.