It was pomp and color at the Kigali IPRC grounds on Saturday 11th August 2018 where 486 high school students from the FAWE Rwanda-Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program graduated.
This cohort is the second to graduate from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at FAWE Rwanda. The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program provides education and leadership development for 35,000 bright, young leaders across Africa with a deep personal commitment to changing the world around them and improving the lives of others..
Whilst expressing their joy upon graduation, the Scholars noted that the comprehensive scholarship opportunity has not only uplifted their lives but also given them hope to pursue their dream career paths.
“To be honest, we feel empowered. The seed that has been planted in us today is going to solve many problems in our society,” noted Ms Farha Gafaranga from Biyogo Sector School.
The colorful event was graced by among others Dr. Marie-Christine Gasingirwa, Director General for Science, Technology and Research in the Ministry of Education Rwanda; Ms Kim Kerr, Director Regional Programmes, Mastercard Foundation; Ms. Hendrina Chalwe Doroba, Executive Director FAWE Africa; Ms. Jennifer Mujuni, Chairperson FAWE Rwanda; and, Dr. Kathy Kantengwa, National Coordinator FAWE Rwanda. Also present were teachers from the Scholars’ schools, parents and FAWE Rwanda partners.
On her part, Ms. Gasingirwa was keen on encouraging graduands to focus on practicing the values and skills instilled in them to enable them to be self-sufficient.
“When we expose you to true values, we are instilling confidence in you to be solution seekers. We have enabled you to look beyond Rwanda with self-motivation and prepared you for more knowledge acquisition,” underscored Ms. Gasingira, the Director General STEM at the Ministry of Education Rwanda.
She also pointed that the Ministry of Education in Rwanda was on the verge of developing a competence-based curricula in STEM that “no longer aims at paper qualification for students but skills acquisition that readily prepares them for the market.”
In the same breath, the Mastercard Foundation’s Director Regional Programmes Ms. Kim Kerr called on the next generation leaders to remain undeterred in their quest for self-development and community empowerment.
“As you go into the next chapter, things will not always be straight forward, protect your experience, values and principles. As a transformative leader, you will come across people who will discourage you, but you need not listen to them; find your purpose, package it and collaborate with people who share your passion,” said Ms. Kerr.
The Scholars Program provides students with the necessary scholastic material as well as skills training, leadership development, counselling, and mentoring. Over a ten-year period, the program aims to support 1,200 Rwandese girls who are young leaders in secondary school, in three cohorts (senior secondary 4 to 6), to acquire essential knowledge and skills through delivery of quality education. This will enable them to pursue their aspirations and contribute to the household, community, and national development.
While appreciating the partners present at the event, Ms. Mujuni, Chairperson of FAWE Rwanda encouraged government and development partners to continue investing in girls’ education in the region.
“We truly appreciate the Mastercard Foundation, Ministry of Education of Rwanda and other partners who believe in this cause. The kind of support they are demonstrating surely goes a long way in uplifting the lives of so many young people in not just Rwanda but Africa in general,” said Ms. Mujuni.
The FAWE- Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Program has been running in Ethiopia and Rwanda since 2013. The aim of the program is to enhance girls’ participation STEM fields. The initiative targets young women who intend to pursue university studies in science, technology and mathematics. The two partners have since expanded into Uganda with the Higher Education Access Program that seeks to enable 300 young women and men from the disadvantaged communities to access and transition through higher education and secure employment in those sectors that contribute to the development of their home communities.
“It is because of how FAWE Rwanda has effectively run the program that our partners Mastercard Foundation allowed us to diversify the program in Uganda since 2017 with a focus on higher education level,” highlighted Ms. Doroba, FAWE Africa Executive Director.
The event also saw 14 scholars awarded certificates of excellence and smart phones for being top performers in their respective schools during the sponsorship period.