Just one month to Innovate Rwanda Summit: What can I do for one child, one school, one town, one nation?

Why would I go to Northern Rwanda?

What difference could I make there?

These are questions I regularly ask myself. It’s one month until we convene in Musanze in Northern Rwanda. We are encouraged by responses and registrations from people all over the world joining us in this rural province of a small African nation. A group of people who believe in a future for these children and children in other developing nations.

Children are the greatest resource of any nation. They are the future, they are potential.

In a quarter of a century, at the rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people, a population about as big as that of the present day US, will live in a country only slightly larger than Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.
 
At Alapere Primary School, more than 100 students cram into most classrooms, two to a desk.

As graduates pour out of high schools and universities, the unemployment rate is nearly 50 per cent for people in urban areas aged 15 to 24 – driving crime and discontent.

 
Sub-Saharan Africa, which now accounts for 12 per cent of the world’s population, will account for more than a third by 2100, by many projections.
 
(SMH 20 April 2012)

The only way we can make a difference is to think about what we can do for one child, one school, one town, one nation – and act, with whatever capacity we have.

Here is ‘one school’

The school was built in 1934 in the Musanze Province of Rwanda, about 90km from Kigali. Since then nearby volcanic eruptions have damaged the buildings and when it rains, the children and teachers need to relocate lessons to the church hall. The classroom walls are bare and there is little light and ventilation. The children sit on uneven benches facing the front, to a ‘blackboard’, which is on a roughly painted section of the wall.

 Would this space inspire and engage learners?

Here is ‘one nation’

Like many developing nations, a significant proportion of Rwanda’s population is under 20. The national median age is 18 years old and soaring youth unemployment rates. In recent years Rwanda has made significant advances in improving students’ attendance at school and the government is now seeking to address the factors concerning the provision of quality education.

What are the strategic directions enabling 21st century learning opportunities for students in regional areas of developing nations? What are the sustainable and economic options for improving infrastructure associated with schools and pedagogy that can become a scalable template for other countries and other contexts?

Regional primary school in Rwanda built in 1934 and
still in use, despite structural damage to the building.

Here is ‘one response’ to the challenge

Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL), a small research and innovation centre in Sydney, Australia, is calling visionary educators, designers and entrepreneurs from all over the world to join us for a collision of minds. We are hosting a summit, using facilitated dialogue; it will be held in Musanze in northern Rwanda, a vibrant community, an area of immense natural beauty and home of the Gorillas in the Mist.

SCIL is grateful for the support of the Rwandan Director-General for Education, the Director of the Kigali Institute for Education and the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Shyira, representing 55 schools, for welcoming and supporting this idea. The summit will include local school leaders, pre-service teachers and representatives of the government’s education support office.

The summit programme will provide an opportunity for participants to gain insights into the local context through school visits, which will then become a springboard for conversations and ideas.

You can still join us

To find out more, visit our website. Consider joining us: this unique opportunity can potentially make a difference to the lives of so many.

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