COVID 19: Vulnerable children debarred to education

Vulnerable families don't have television or radio

Some children whose families are vulnerable were excluded to education, by the aired studies program set by the Ministry of Education, as response to the closing of schools to avoid the spreading of corona virus in Rwanda.

“I find many barriers in this aired program on radio and television: some of us don’t have television set or radio post, our children are not accessing those courses and it will affect their performance when they will go back to school. They will find themselves far behind their classmates”, said Betty Nyiraneza, a resident of Nyarugenge district in Kigali City.

Marcelline Nyirandereyimana, mother of four and resident of Nyagatare district in Eastern Province, says that they don’t have television, radio, not even the little telephone (some people use telephone to play radio). The old daughter who is in high school is currently working as helper on schools construction sites, and their mother is the one to work for family feeding.

According to Nyirandereyimana, their children have been victims of the program. “When my child asks me about school and studies, I tell him that there is no way, we don’t have what it takes, may be by chance later, if coronavirus is gone, may be they can get back to school”, she said.

These issues were raised by students who are staying home, and asked to follow their studies on radios, televisions or internet.

Education for all on government’s agenda…

Article 16 of Rwandan constitution talks about protection from discrimination, where it says that ‘’all Rwandans are born and remain equal in rights and freedoms, that discrimination of any kind or its propaganda based on economic categories or any other form of discrimination are prohibited and punishable by law.”

The article 19 talks about child’s right to protection, and the article 20 talks about the right to education where it says that every Rwandan has the right to education.

These vulnerable parents wish that something would be done in order to help their children to be on the same line with others. Nyiraneza proposes the solution to problem: “Government may think about the way that children from vulnerable families should access the program, for example if they could give them radios like the one that once were given to the jury members of Gacaca courts (inyangamugayo)”.

Government is aware of the issue

The government’s institutions in charge of education in Rwanda confirmed to be aware of the issue and that they are doing whatever it takes to set it right.

Director General of Rwanda Education Board (REB), Dr. Irenee Ndayambaje says that only technology ways were possible to face the situation caused by the covid-19 outbreak and its effects to education.

“We know that challenges are there. But the fact that some people do not have such tools (radio or television), would not prevent it from being used for productivity. We encourage families who don’t have them to try their best to get them; and for families who don’t have the means to get them, we have delivered special help for poor families, composed by radios powered by solar panels”, confirmed Dr. Ndayambaje.

“Much has been done, and we encourage parents to buy radio as a teaching tool, like they do with books and pens. Children who have not yet received learning materials, even if they are few, we keep them in mind waiting when Covid-19 will be at the end the situation set to the normal.’’, he added.

The Director General of REB promises that when the schools will open again, they will have to go back in order to support those who have not been able to follow the courses that have been offered on radio and television.



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