Although this school year had a rough start and turned out to be quite a rocky ride, we can still end it better. As the school year nears its end, here is a recap and a call to action for a better ending of this school year. (Just show me where I can take action).
Table of Contents
- Volcano eruption
- Our students made it back
- Our finalists, in their own words
- Challenges and implications
- How you can help us end the school year better.
As you are all aware, on June 22, the Nyiragongo volcano erupted causing a lot of damage in the northern part of the city of Goma. We thank God because this one was not as terrible as the one of 2002 which burnt a large part of the city center. Still, this year also, thousands of families had to leave the city in order to stay safe, while others saw their houses destroyed or damaged by the earthquakes.
Many of our Rudi volunteers left the city and went either to Bukavu or to Sake and Minova. As we post this update, all of them are back in town and none of their houses and belongings were affected by the eruption nor the earthquakes that followed the eruption for almost two weeks.
Our Students Made It Back
We are pleased to report that we finally were able to visit the school and meet with those of our students who are doing well and are working hard to see the school year to an end. Our Executive Director who went for a visit had a talk with them and heard the accounts of their experience of the volcano eruption. Most of them did not experience the 2002 eruption so this was new to them. Many were either too young to remember the 2002 eruption, lived outside of Goma, or were just not yet born.
The current school year (2020-2021) officially closes in September 2021 and almost immediately, approximately a week later, the next school year will kick off. Education authorities are aiming at making sure we go back to our normal school program which, until covid came, used to start in September and end in July. That is why school leaders are working extremely hard to have everything ready by early September to end the current school year and launch the next one.
Our Finalists, In Their Own Words
Remember our last post that was introducing our older students who are looking forward to university? You can find it here if you missed it: https://rudiinternational.org/2021/02/06/four-of-rudi-international-students-are-graduating/
This week, they are starting the process to pass their State examinations. This culmination of secondary education in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is comprised of two parts: a preliminary series of exam and the exam proper. The preliminary examinations, which, for this year, started this Monday July 12, 2021 will go until July 24. Please be praying for our 4 students who are sitting for this milestone exam at two different schools.
Our Executive Director sat with two of them last week to discuss the journey and to give them words of encouragement. At that time, they were getting ready with all the administrative steps required for admission to the State examinations. The following are some of their comments about this nationwide exam season.
“The exams will go over 12 days. We will be having a day in between as an opportunity to relax and prepare for the next exam. You remember when you came for the interview? I was teaching at a primary school and had to write my report. As part of these exams, I will be presenting this report in front of a jury. They will have to assess whether I am a good candidate teacher or not.”Vangi, a Rudi student.
When asked to give his impression about the exam and what he expects as next steps, Marcelin confessed:
“I am ready. I have to confess that it is so stressful, but I am excited to sit for the exams. I want to go to university so I consider these exams as normal exams I have been taking for the last 6 years or so. But, please be praying for my colleagues and I, we want our school to pass all its finalists”Marcelin, a Rudi student.
Challenges and Implications
The school year that is ending was not an easy one for students, teachers as well as for parents. It was a challenging one even for us at Rudi International. We had the hardest time keeping up with our students as they were out of school on many occasions and various incidents this past school year.
Early in the school year, the first disruption was due to the promise of free access to primary education for everyone, a promise for which the implementation is still a challenge across the country. With the hope that the government would indeed help families and schools with the tuition of primary school students, including the Rudi International sponsored children, we focused our attention on those the sponsored students who are in secondary school.
The failure from the government to deliver on their promise in a timely fashion, multiple strikes by teachers claiming their pay ensued throughout the country and disrupted the school year before the first trimester of school was even over.
Before that first problem was solved, and while schools were still struggling to make some type of progress for primary school students, the volcano eruption kicked all students out of school for almost three weeks in Goma and surrounding regions. We do not have words to qualify this school year and its many challenges. The pandemic also had its effects, but this was not a burden particular to our region alone.
All these challenges had drastic and rather disastrous consequences on many students. When we finally were able to get updates from the school authorities, they reported the highest dropout rates we have ever experienced since our inception as an organization. School dropout rates had been going higher month after month. For our sponsored students, we approached a 30% dropout rate for the current school year. We have never experienced such a rate since we started with this sponsorship program back in 2012. The reasons reported were that some of our students got pregnant, others got into relationships with no proper marriage, others started jobs and were no longer interested in pursuing school, and various other situations. This past school year was an unprecedented one to say the least.
To the question of why they think their female colleagues chose marriage over school, Anuarite shared her disappointment during the meeting with our Executive Director.
“I don’t understand why someone who is almost done with high school would decide to be with a boy and throw away all the investment into their education.”Anuarite, Rudi student.
While we are seeking to understand a bit more about these various students’ situation, we want to make sure that those who are still in school complete the school year and do well. For that, we need to make sure they are not sacked from school.
You Can Help Us End the School Year Better
Seeing that we are still not yet able to complete their school tuition, we want to invite you to help us out. If you have not donated to the Education program for this year, please do so today so that we can pay their tuition before the school year ends. This will not only ensure our students do complete the school year and advance to their next grades, but also, your support for a student is supporting the entire community of Lac Vert in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Because with the Lord’s help through your donations, we sponsor a good number of students, whenever we are paying for them, the school and the teachers are also able to receive their salary and support their own families. Will you help us finish strong? To give directly to Rudi International’s general programs, please use our PayPal donation button:
Please note that donations sent directly to Rudi International are not tax deductible in the United States. Rudi International is a registered NGO in the DR Congo, but we currently do not have a 501(c)3 status in the US. For tax deductible donations, please consider giving to our partner’s “Rudi International School Sponsorship” purpose as described here: https://rudiinternational.org/donations/.