Laying the groundwork for change: early education in rural Rwanda

A good, strong foundation, whether building a home or a skill, is something we know is important to ensure stability and success. But did you know that when applied to education, developing a solid foundation has the power to positively shape a child, their community and the world?

In Rwanda, nearly 30% of people over the age of 15 cannot read or write – leaving them without crucial skills and information for achieving self-sufficiency, security and growth.

But we can change this for future generations by making early, quality education accessible for children – especially those living in rural areas, who are twice as likely to be out of school as urban children.

Early education is key to promoting the overall development and well-being of children. Learning stimulates curious young minds and participating in structured activities helps build important social skills.

Yet in rural Rwanda, where more than 65% of the population lives in poverty, families don’t have the support, infrastructure or staff needed to provide quality education for their children – leaving them trapped in a cycle of poverty.

But this cycle can be broken.

Our generous Education project sponsors made it possible for us to invest in education in rural Rwanda – helping communities break the cycle of poverty and begin a cycle of progress to benefit generations to come.

Thanks to this support, we were able to build 2 new schools, opening doors to new opportunities for local children. Each school is equipped with 12 classrooms, along with an additional block of rooms for school administration, a playground for sports and games, gender-separated latrines and a clean water point and collection tank to promote proper hygiene and sanitation.

The Rwandan flag flies above children and the new Plan school.

Students gather by their new school’s gender-separated latrines and water point and collection tank, used for hand washing and clean drinking water.

We know that school is so much more than a building, which is why we also:

  • Trained over 160 teachers and nearly 170 parent-teacher committee members from more than 50 primary schools on administration and management, as well as how to incorporate child rights, gender equality and child protection into the school environment
  • Provided workshops for more than 700 children on issues such as child rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, violence reduction and leadership skills
  • Trained over 100 students in community and environmental health so they can create Hygiene and Environmental Clubs to motivate their peers to adopt practices that are essential to public health.

Thanks to these initiatives, the quality of education is improving, enrollment rates have been steadily increasing and proper health practices are being widely adopted – and community members are taking notice of the benefits.

The new school, complete with educational murals.

The new school, complete with murals that promote learning around every corner!

Charltine is the mother of a young boy born with a physical disability who now attends a Plan-funded Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centre in Rwanda.

“Joining other children at the centre helped him,” she says. “One important thing is that he is no longer shy. I see him becoming more confident, more playful. He is always counting for me and talking about his teacher,” she shares with pride, adding, “This give me hope that he will do well in class and learn how to write.”

Rachel is a student who is excelling in her primary classes at her Plan-supported school in Rwanda, and now dreams of becoming a doctor.

“I learned so much,” she says, reflecting on the true impact of an early start in education. “Me and my friends who were at the [ECCD] centre are now smarter in writing and counting.”

And it isn’t just children that are benefitting from the Plan-supported schools and centres in Rwanda. Parents are enjoying the peace of mind in knowing that their children are not only developing vital life skills, but are also being well cared for and supervised while they are away, working to generate income for their family.

The spaces have become a place not only for children, but also for entire families to congregate, creating a greater sense of community, which benefits everyone.

“The centre has really helped our village and neighbouring ones,” says Flomina, a local community member. “This place is very important to our community.”

Young students line up outside their school, smiling and waving.

The new school and playground is helping children exercise and energize both their bodies and minds – empowering children to create strong communities!

Education is the cornerstone of development. Without access to education, a person’s opportunities to earn an income and support their children are limited.

So far, more than 150,000 people across hundreds of rural communities in six developing countries like Rwanda have been involved in the Education project – including over 95,000 students and thousands of teachers, community leaders, outreach workers, parents and program partners.

Together we’re helping build a comprehensive educational base in these rural communities so that they can support children’s needs and build and strengthen, ensuring them a brighter future.