Education is so very important for every human being. It has the power to excite us, to motivate us, to open doors and to enable us to achieve our dreams. Without an education our lives are all the poorer, our aspirations are curtailed and our life chances are severely diminished
The situation in Rwanda
Sadly, for millions of children in Africa, education is out of reach. And the same is true for many children in Rwanda. Although Rwanda’s emergence from the apocalypse of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi has been nothing short of miraculous, 32% of Rwandans are still unable to read and write according to national statistics.
On the face of it most primary and secondary education in Rwanda is fee-free. However, parents still have to pay for items like PTA contributions, exam fees, purchasing reams of paper for the school, passport photos for exams, registration fees, and school reports, among others. Such costs pose serious challenges for successful school attendance, performance, and completion. In addition, the high number of orphaned children who live without parents in Rwanda have little way of affording these fees at all.
As a result, only 71 per cent of children complete their primary education in Rwanda and only around 44% of children are enrolled in in secondary education. Classrooms are often too crowded, with an average of 62 students for every qualified teacher and Rwandan schools also lack appropriate classroom materials to cater towards children with disabilities.
Philly's Place - giving impoverished children the hope for a bright future
This is why we were so excited to open an education centre for children of all ages and abilities in the district of Bugesera. The centre, called Philly’s Place, has been operating from a temporary, rented building since November 2020.
We shipped 2.5 tonnes of the best educational equipment from the UK over to Rwanda to equip the centre
and we have been offering free daily tuition in literacy, numeracy and science to children of all ages, as well as daily programmes in art, music, sport, drama, dance and the chance to play with toys.
Children in Rwanda know that education is their main route out of poverty in later life so many walk for miles every day to get that chance. Philly’s Place caters for children who do attend government schools but are motivated to extend and maximise their learning potential by studying from our library of 4,500 text books and reference books. We also cater for the many children of the district who cannot afford to attend school regularly, providing them with the that vital access to education they will need to work themselves out of poverty.
In just a year Philly’s Place has become a vital community hub where families can bring their children and orphaned children can find a hope for a better future. In addition, we have partnered with a nearby residential home for elderly survivors of the genocide. Having the regular opportunity to read and play with the children at Philly’s Place has given the survivors, most of whom lost their entire families during the genocide, a great deal of joy and comfort.
All of the resources and programmes at Philly’s Place are offered free of charge and, as a result, we have been overrun with children desperate to get in.
And herein lies our problem. The rented premises from which we are currently operating is small and every day we are having to turn children away, which is heartbreaking.
We have therefore started to build a much larger, permanent centre which, when opened, will be able to cater for hundreds of children. It will provide computers and a well-stocked library of educational books and resources for the children to use, to support their studies and vital opportunities for many children who would otherwise be denied access to education altogether.
The construction of the building is well underway. However, we are desperately trying to raise the final £60,000 required to complete and equip the centre so that we can finally open the doors.
Philly’s Place has been made possible through the partnership of Survivors Fund (SURF), a UK-registered charity and Samantha Hunt MBE. Any help you can give, however great or small, will be so appreciated. Your support will ensure that the future of countless children in Rwanda is one of hope and prosperity.
Thank you so very much