Rwanda: Tougher Approach Needed for Street Children School
The New Times (Kigali)
12 June 2008
Posted to the web 12 June 2008
School of Champions, a newly established rehabilitation and vocational training facility for former street children situated in Rwamagana, is already experiencing problems.
Sponsored by a continental NGO - African Evangelistic Enterprises - the project intends to save street children from destitute life. By so doing, the school will also take some burden off the foster homes that feed the school.
Understandably, the challenges the school is faced with in just a space of two weeks are related to indiscipline. It is not even a month after starting and the adapted kids are capable of finding their way out to look for drugs.
A journalist who caught up with the lads and inquired into their short experience was largely greeted by lamentation. They complained bitterly of being underfed, confessing their wish to return to the foster homes.
The school administration refutes the children’s allegations of inadequate food, pointing to their complicated past life as a gripping negative influence they will take time to be separated from.
The director of the school also observed that with the children still able to access drugs, crying for more food is expected. The approach used by the faith-based institution leans heavily on persuasion, with little or no coercion at all.
The kids are preached to with the hope that over time the word of God will penetrate deep enough to cause change of mindset to that which appreciates decent current and future life. The first month has been devoted to such intensive teachings.
Perhaps it is too early to have real fears as to whether the objectives will be achieved. Nevertheless, it still might be reasonable considering a mixed approach even at this early stage, say by tightening the school rules.
Sealing the entrances and exits to control unwanted movement of children and commodities is a thing the administration may want to consider. The school may also take a less defensive position and delve into the alleged matters of insufficient food quantities.
It is our view that even as we make the suggestions above, the unenviable task at the hands of the NGO, given the nature of the engagement, must be appreciated.