Supporting students by supporting parents
Written by Gloria J. A majority of students in East African countries study in boarding schools. Some schools have day students who commute daily from home, in addition to boarding students who stay for several months at a time. Other schools, especially high schools, are strictly boarding schools. There are breaks within the academic term where students can go home for a week or have parents visit them on assigned visiting days. Schools are closed for the holidays, which are the months of April, August, and December, and students spend time at home. Enrolling in boarding school is mainly for students in the upper primary school (class 6-8) and high school. They are expected to devote more time to their academics since they spend more time in school. Students in the lower grades can join as early as they wish. Boarding schools are seen as a home away from home. Children acquire skills such as responsibility, respect, accountability, and a sense of community and freedom. This further encourages social and emotional stability among the students. Education for Burundian Refugees in Rwanda Founded in October 2018 by Burundian refugees, Forum pour la Memoire Vigilante (FMV) works to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations in Rwanda. The refugees have been living in Rwanda since the year 2015 when Burundi experienced civil war following the third term of the former President of Burundi, the late President Nkurunziza. In a new partnership between Spirit in Action (SIA) and FMV, the organization is meetings one of its core goals of supporting education. In late 2021, SIA offered a grant worth $,1000 to help support education among Burundian refugees living in Rwanda. With this grant, FMV is starting a project that would help monitor the progress of the children they support in boarding schools across the country. The objective of this project is to support the children both financially and emotionally. FMV endorses the children's education and mental and emotional health in the program. The project aims to positively impact both the children and their parents and includes visits each semester. Several activities happened in the previous months that have enabled the success of this project. Positive Parenting In January, Sindayigaya Godefroid organized a parenting seminar with twenty-seven parents in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was positive parenting and its impact on children. The report from FMV showed that some parents could not provide the essential care that their children would need. This would destabilize the child's education. One child said: "I have never heard my parents saying to me 'I love you.'" Parents were encouraged to positively reinforce their kids at home to help shift their outlook. They learned how to praise their children, show acceptance, teach them respect, show empathy, and nurture them. Read more on FMV's website: https://www.memoirevigilante.org/2022/02/15/fmv-road-to-parenting-positive-ways/ Visiting Students In February, Vincent, a member of FMV, visited ten children studying and boarding in the Muhanga District. FMV wants to ensure that these refugee students are settling in well to their boarding schools and that they feel encouraged and cared for, in spite of the new situation. Vincent found that most children did not experience discrimination based on their refugee status and that their grades were good. More school visits were made by Freddy and Magnes, members of FMV in the Butare, Huye, Muhanga, and Kigali Districts. The recommendations for these visits were to make them regular and consistent to encourage the children and know they are not alone; someone cares. By visiting these schools and supporting the parents, FMV, in collaboration with SIA, was able to assess the environments and well-being of the refugee students in boarding schools and their parents. This further gave insight on how best to serve and make sure the children grow up in a conducive environment that fosters education. Parents were enlightened on positive parenting skills that are expected to have a constructive outcome on the development and advancement of the children. Our hope is for children to succeed and be healthy and happy.