VSO has worked in Rwanda since 1998. Our programmes are education, disability and youth/national volunteering. We are currently exploring the opportunity of starting a livelihoods programme.
In Rwanda, 45% of people live below the poverty line and over 80% live on less than £2 a day. Many people are subsistence farmers and some struggle with food insecurity, malnutrition and environmental degradation. Rwanda has a very young population (the average age is 19 years old), and youth unemployment is a significant issue here.
A large number of households are headed by women, orphans, and people with disabilities, who bear the burden of poverty. Although Rwanda has the highest proportion of female MPs in the world – 57%, it is questionable how much impact they are having on ordinary women. People with disabilities are not often considered in decision making.
Although Rwanda has good policies in place to support its transition from a low income country to a middle income country by 2020, action is lacking at grassroots level in some cases. To complete this transformation, Rwanda needs to:
create wealth and invigorate the private sector
ensure that young people have the skills to participate in this growth
improve basic services for all, increase the accountability of the state to its people
address potential causes of conflict and fragility.
One of the impacts of the 1994 genocide was an increased number of people with a range of disabilities including physical disabilities, visual and hearing impairments and mental health trauma.
There is a positive political and social will to realise the rights of people with disabilities, but resources and technical capacity remain a challenge.
VSO Rwanda’s disability programme works on three fronts:
ensuring disability is mainstreamed into development at national and local level
building the capacity of civil society to represent and support their members
improving the quality of services aimed at people with disabilities.
We are recruiting volunteers with skills in advocacy, organisational development, inclusive education and special needs education, and in specialist service areas including sign language, audiology and speech therapy.
VSO Rwanda works with the government to improve the quality of basic education. The government has successfully increased the number of children attending primary school – with above 90% of children enrolling.
However, the teacher training at pre-service level is poor and there’s currently no national in service training for Rwandan teachers. The result is teacher-centred teaching and children who don’t learn enough to contribute to their families and society.
We recruit professional primary school teachers and head teachers, and local government education officials, mostly on two year placements. They support our work in teacher training, head teacher training, and national level policy and advocacy work.
Youth and national volunteering
VSO believes in the value of volunteering to meet development goals. Rwanda’s strong volunteering culture is accompanied by few guidelines for national organisations that work through volunteers and so we work with government to elaborate policies on volunteering. We also work with several local organisations to support their volunteering programmes.
We work to ensure that young people, mostly those in upper secondary education or those who have recently completed their education, are more able to find work. We support the government’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training work, as well as working with organisations that deliver work readiness programmes.
We are currently looking at potential work in secure livelihoods, that would complement our work in other programmes – having an impact on our main beneficiary groups of people with disabilities, children and young people.
Get in touch with VSO Rwanda at:
PO Box 4599, Kigali, Rwanda