Senators have called upon the Ministry of Education and its partners to pay extra attention to the issue of children from the historically marginalised families, who, according to a study, have continued to lag behind others in education.
They made the call on Tuesday as the Minister for Education, Dr Eugene Mutimura, appeared before a senatorial committee to address the concerns identified during a field tour by the committee.
According to Consolée Uwimana, the head of the senatorial ad hoc committee set up to look into the state of historically marginalised Rwandans, many of the children from this group were found to have dropped out of school.
“Over 90 per cent of (historically marginalised) adults never went to school and their children don’t go to school because of poverty and ignorance in their families,” she said.
The committee and Minister Mutimura agreed on the need to give children from families of the historically marginalised free meals at school.
“As an immediate solution, these children will be getting free meals at school such that they’re not hungry in case they don’t get enough food at home,” Mutimura said.
Minister Mutimura also fronted the idea of using some of the educated individuals from the historically marginalised group to mobilise others to send children to school, saying that in most cases it is a mindset issue.
He said he would share the findings by the senators with fellow members of the ministerial cluster on social affairs such that they collectively come up with a clear strategy.
Senators stressed the importance of education to disentangle the historically marginalised from the vicious circle of poverty.
“Government has elevated other groups like women, youth, Muslems and refugees from marginalisation but the so-called Abatwa still lag behind, and to our observation, this is because their education has not been elevated,” said Uwimana.
In April this year, senate instituted the ad hoc committee to thoroughly look into the welfare of the historically marginalised across the country, which triggered a three-month countrywide tour by senators.
However, despite the fact that the senators found a high dropout rate among this group, Uwimana noted that some of them who went to school never bothered to look for jobs.
During the tour, she said, some bachelor’s degree holders were found practicing artisanal sand mining among others.
“We, for example, found a young graduate in social works working in artisanal sand mines in Rutsiro District and found another one carrying and selling local brew in bars in Rusizi District,” she said.
The committee also faulted local authorities for misallocating the over Rwf95 million fund that was disbursed by government towards the education of children from the families of the historically marginalised.
“A district receives annually up to Rwf5 million dedicated to this purpose but local authorities divert it to economic affairs of the group instead,” she said.
According to findings by the senators, the number of children from these families who enrol in schools has only risen from 13-25 per cent since 2007.
Some six districts, including Kicukiro, Burera and Nyamasheke have not had any child from historically marginalised people in university, have less than five in secondary schools and less than 10 in vocational and technical schools.
The committee also reported that the life expectancy for this group remains lower compared to other Rwandans mainly because of poverty.
It also said that the level of incest is high among members of this group.