Empowered Parents Transform Kamugarura Primary
By Quentin Fincaryk
Wellspring’s Western Development Officer
Today I had the pleasure of meeting the respected president of the 500-family strong parent council in Kamugarura, a remote mountaintop village in western Rwanda. Our vehicles struggled to even reach this location, which is unreachable in the rainy season.
Before being mobilized by Wellspring, Kamugarura primary school suffered a high dropout rate of over 70 students. Imagine 70 young children dropping out of your local elementary school. With some training and encouragement, Kamugarura parents made a list with head teachers of all students who had dropped out of school. They created task forces and began visiting each family of absent children every morning at 5 am to escort children to school.
Some families did not understand why they should send their children back to school, while others could not afford the uniforms or pens and notebooks. Through many discussions, parents helped other parents understand the long-term value of education for their children, their family, and the greater community. The result? The dropout rate at Kamugarura is now at zero!
For families that could not afford uniforms, the parent council partnered with a local church to raise funds for a few uniforms. For families that could not afford pens and notebooks, students in class went home to their own families and asked for a donation of a single coin. Gathered together, enough funds have been raised for school supplies.
Wellspring calls this approach Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), equipping Rwandans to find effective and sustainable solutions on their own with what they have. Parents take ownership of the issues in their community, and take deep pride in the contextualized solutions they accomplish. Today, an impoverished school plagued by dropout has accomplished a zero dropout rate with complete uniforms and supplies, all on their own without any external support.
The parent council president went on to explain that the next goal of the council is to build a new classroom for the school, as current classrooms are crowded with upwards of 70-80 in each small room. Most desks need to seat 4 or 5 students to fit everyone. “Some parents are resisting the idea of a new classroom, but we will find a way to build it,” she told us. I have no doubt that the parents of Kamugarura will have it constructed by next time I visit.