Flourishing at Rwamigega
In Rubavu district, tucked between two volcanoes—Mount Karisimbi and Mount Nyiragongo—and overlooking the Valley of Kibumba of DR Congo, lies G.S. Rwamigega. Just a stone’s throw away from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwamigega School is set within a farming community where the majority of households rely on agriculture, and often the labour of their children.
While the recent lockdown and school closures have heightened existing challenges to education, the flourishing surroundings are reminiscent of the flourishing that’s happening within the school ground, because this school community is anything but dormant!
Deep-set issues of ill-equipped teachers, high rates of student dropout (a challenge exacerbated by recent school closures), and disengaged community members used to hinder the school’s progress. Teachers lacked accountability and motivation, and the learning of students suffered greatly as a result. But since our partnership with Rwamigega began in 2017, the seeds of quality education have taken root and have since led to the thriving of the school’s 805 students, 14 teachers, leaders, and parents alike. Wellspring’s work in Rwamigega is supported through our monthly School Partner program, which allows donors to journey alongside schools––supporting children through every lesson, recess, quiz, project, and training session––and play a key role in their transformation. As a result, students from primary one to secondary two at Rwamigega are receiving the kind of education that creates a brighter future and tends to both their hearts and minds.
Quality Education Taking Root
“I have been transformed after meeting Wellspring. I am not the same leader I was before.”
Meet Jean de Dieu Nikuze, the transformed leader of G.S. Rwamigega. Prior to joining Rwamigega, Jean de Dieu was head teacher of a boarding school, and led with a clenched fist rather than an open hand. He shared with us, “I was a boss in that boarding school. I had staff who I commanded and they responded to my instructions. When I was appointed at G.S. Rwamigega, I continued using this style of leadership until I met the Wellspring team in a leadership training on Servant Leadership. It was during this training that my style of leadership transformed.”
His past leadership style created isolation and a disconnect between staff, and resulted in disempowered and disengaged teachers modelling that same kind of leadership in their classrooms. With the support of Wellspring’s training, Jean de Dieu began working in partnership with teachers to ensure that all students are engaging in and absorbing their lessons. Building a culture of trust, collaboration, and encouragement, he started leading his school towards excellence!
“I feel really proud of Wellspring for putting me on this journey of mentoring and relearning a fresh perspective on leadership.”
Between head teacher Jean de Dieu building into his staff and the ongoing support of Wellspring’s trainers, the teachers of Rwamigega have experienced their own growth and have seen their classrooms flourish as a result!
While students at Rwamigega are now actively engaged in their lessons, this wasn’t always the case. When our partnership with Rwamigega began, the performance of the school was declining. Teachers, such as teacher multiplier Jean Paul, struggled to lead their class and often used harsh words and physical punishment, causing students to be fearful or, in some cases, not to come to class at all. After Wellspring training in Behaviour Management, Jean Paul shared, “…It opened my eyes to find a lot of innovative and creative tools that shaped and motivated the behaviour of the children. I faced my students in the classroom and asked them for their forgiveness for my former behaviour and attitude as their teacher.”
“Wellspring training destroyed my old nature and shaped me into a well-disciplined and loving teacher.”
Taking Wellspring’s training to heart, Jean Paul began changing the culture of his classroom as he started leading with humility and a heart of care for his students. Today, children are diving into their learning, have found trust in their teacher, and are excited to return to class day after day.
While students within the classroom are being cared for by their teachers, the school’s parent community has been just as eager to support the education of their children and tend to the needs of the school.
For many families in Rwamigega’s school community, the pressure to provide—especially during school closures—has led to many children continuing to work, rather than returning to their recently reopened schools. Even prior to the pandemic, dropout rates were high as families needed extra support at home or extra hands tending to the fields. With school reopening, parents involved in Rwamigega’s SCAN initiative have been visiting vulnerable families to share the importance of education and bring students back to school. As a result of their efforts, many children returned to school upon its reopening, including some students who had dropped out prior to school closures!
In his new spirit of collaboration, Jean de Dieu began inviting not only his staff into the transformation of Rwamigega, but the community too. And after training in Asset-Based Community Development, parents were equipped with a renewed mindset and a heart to help transform the school. Valens, Chair of the parent committee shared with us that “ABCD changed my mind about all my fears about the school, from poverty to richness; from confusion to vision and mission; from a government poor school to a parent-owned community school.” And as a result of parents taking ownership, the school now has electricity and a kitchen where students and teachers can have their meals, and parents are working to fence the school and construct a girls’ room and playground too!
Flourishing for Years to Come
The efforts of Head Teacher Jean de Dieu, teachers like Jean Paul, and community members like Valens have allowed the seeds of quality education to take root and have ensured that children are planted in an environment that will help them grow and thrive! And while the inspired and engaged school community has led the transformation, it’s through the consistent support of Wellspring’s monthly donors that Rwamigega has seen the fruit of quality education.
Our School Partner program provides Wellspring with long-term and sustainable support from monthly donors who wish to see schools like Rwamigega flourish for years to come. Through the generous and ongoing support of these monthly partners, schools are being equipped and emboldened to provide every child with the quality education they deserve.
While Rwamigega has been growing in its ability to provide quality education, you can come alongside the entire school community as they continue to secure the bright future of students now and in the generations to come.
For the month of March, we’re connecting new monthly partners with Rwamigega School. When you sign up as a School Partner for as little as $15/month, you are standing with students as they grow in their heart and head knowledge. You’re coming alongside head teacher Jean de Dieu as he cultivates an encouraging classroom environment. You’re partnering with teachers like Jean Paul as they ensure their students are learning and thriving. And you’re walking with parents as they continue building into their school for the flourishing of the students of today and tomorrow.
Thank you for tending to the growth of Rwamigega school and being a key player in their journey of transformation!