Nyaruguru: Jubilation as Hundreds of Youth start National Service Programme
A number of 968 high school-leaving Students – 469 girls and 499 boys − native of Nyaruguru district, Southern Rwanda, on Tuesday 22 January 2013 officially started a voluntary National Service Programme to help the Rwandan Government with different activities.
These activities are in line with Rwanda’s four component-development programmes, namely economy, good governance, justice and social welfare of the population.
The programme, which kicked off in Nyagisozi sector, (Nyaruguru district), is to last for three months as part of a pilot phase.
The said young people will be working five days a week for a part of the day – either in morning or afternoon hours depending on the day’s agenda and schedule, and are set to be joining their families after work.
According to Aimée Josiane Umulisa, coordinator of the civic education programme in Nyaruguru district, these high school-leaving students, some of whom now on the verge of entering different universities and higher learning institutes in the country, are to be dispatched to Nyaruguru district’s 72 cells − everyone in their native cell − to carry out activities such as sensitization on the land use consolidation programme, the country’s health insurance coverage scheme, teaching the population about nutrition and how to fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic − just to name a few.
The next phase, which will reportedly come into effect in the year 2014, is expected to be much longer. Up to 12 months, supposedly divided into four stints of three months each.
The twelve month-period of national service for Rwandans aged from 18 to 35 years old – the youth category under Rwandan laws − is stipulated in the 2003 Rwandan Constitution as amended.
Nyaruguru district’s Mayor, François Habitegeko, heaped praise onto the programme.
“These voluntary activities [the ones to be performed throughout the National Service
Programme] are aimed at promoting self-reliance and dignity”, said Mayor Habitegeko.
One of them is 20-year-old Festus Nsengimana, from Mwoya cell of Nyagisozi sector.
“The National Service Programme is a way of helping our country to attain a sustainable development. As an educated youth, we have to play a big role towards achieving that goal and in so doing preserve our dignity”, said Nsengimana who read English, Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili while still at high school.
Clémentine Mukakarisa, (19), is even more pronounced.
“We [high school-leaving students] have a lot to teach the rest of the population because we are much more knowledgeable than they are. And that way, we would be contributing to the development of our country at large and to the development of our communities more specifically”, said the young, trained accountant from Nkakwa, another cell of Nyagisozi sector.
Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana, State Minister of Transport (in a khaki suit), shares a delight moment with Nyaruguru district Mayor, François Habitegeko, at the launch of the National Service Programme on Tuesday
Speaking at the function, Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana, State Minister in charge of Transport at the Rwanda’s Ministry of Infrastructure, said some countries would soon borrow a leaf from the expected success of the National Service Programme.
“The civic education programme [of which the National Service Programme is just a part] is an originality of the Rwandan people. There’s no doubt over that. And foreign countries will surely learn a lot from our experience”, said State Minister Dr. Nzahabwanimana.
In fact, that’s the school of thought that even pioneers of the national civic education programme uphold – that the current programme is Rwandans’ originality.
Pioneers of the national civic education programme maintain that it is a way of rejuvenating and modernizing what used to happen in the traditional Rwanda, hundreds of years ago.
Young boys used to attend training camps aimed at inculcating in them different cultural values like good manners, integrity, oratory or public speaking as a way of preparing them to become real men while young girls followed a specific training aimed at growing good behaviours and familiarizing them with a number of household duties worth of a good, real woman. So not much of new in the current programme, pioneers say.
The official launch of the National Service Programme in Nyaruguru district saw similar launches taking place all across Rwanda’s 30 districts, with Rwamagana district in the country’s Eastern Province hosting the launching event at the national level.
Figures from the national civic education programme office suggest that an estimated 40,000 high school-leaving students will partake in this very first intake of the National Service Programme.