For all eight decades Valeria Kanakuze has lived, she wished to have at least received formal education. He dream had always been becoming a nurse or teacher.
Kanakuze 85, has lost almost all her family members.She only depends on Rwf7,000 cash handouts from government and sometimes food provided by neighbours and friends in Nyarubaka sector Kamonyi district.
However, seven months ago she was approached by community literacy volunteers working with Global Civic Sharing (GCS) Rwanda, and asked her to spend time at Kigarama literacy class session to break her solitude.
“I was very lonely, one of my legs is broken and my children cannot help me. When I was approached, they told me that I could spend time in class and acquire some knowledge instead,” Kanakuze told KTPress.
Supported by a walking stick, Kanakuze limped through hills and valleys to learn how to read and write just to make a difference in her life before she dies.
On Wednesday, Kanakuze stood among 400 adults in Kamonyi district to receive education certificates, becoming the first person in her entire family to possess one.
“I have never taken alcohol, drugs or smoked. I wanted to graduate so that I could educate young ones. This may not be big but it will make a difference,” she told KPress at the graduation of the third cycle of Adult Literacy program in the district.
Similarly Josephine Nyiransengimana 64, has found new hope of changing her life financially after losing land (40 by 90sqm) due to illiteracy.
Ten years ago, some conmen in Nyarubaka sector asked her to sign papers for renting her land for eight years, but the paperwork was actually endorsing her consent to sell it off at Rwf28.000.
“I had lost my husband and my children were very young, I needed money to survive. When I was told to sign I couldn’t read a single word since I didn’t understand anything,” Nyiransengimana narrates.
After eight years she was ejected from the land, leaving her with only 25 by 40sqm after losing a community court case as a result of her signature on the papers.
“This will never happen to me again. I have learnt a lesson and going back to school has enabled me to read and count. I intend to start a business to recover what I lost and take care of my three children,” Nyiransengimana said.
Despite the loses these adults have made in life, their graduation came with awards of brand new FM Radio receivers, basins and certificates. They will use these to improve language skills, basic hygiene and application for jobs or advanced studies- especially for the youths.
Next year, Nyiransengimana and Kanakuze could be among the next beneficiaries of a GCS literacy program which will advance skills of over 1185 adults trained since 2015.
The students, mostly aged between 15 and 85 years, acquired skills in reading, writing and health tips and nutrition which takes seven months.
“Next year we will look into areas which will improve acquired literacy skills, which will enable graduates to transform their lives and skills including English language,” said Seunghoon Woo, the GCS Project Manager.
The sector executive secretary, Etienne Mugambira said the beneficiaries (majority women) will be recruited as volunteers to act as community mediators to intervene in family related disputes which are the main cause of children dropping out of school.
At the 15th National Dialogue, it was resolved to take necessarily measures and changes aimed at improving quality of education in all sectors, increasing the number of technical schools and fighting causes of school drop-outs.
The council also asked for enhanced partnership in teaching Kinyarwanda in families, schools and media programs, bearing in mind that all Rwandans should learn and know Kinyarwanda and use it well.