In many sub-Saharan
African countries, access to higher education for girls has been historically
been limited. This inequality in education is still common in rural societies,
where girls are strongly influenced by a patriarchal tradition that grooms them
only for marriage. But times are changing and many African
have passed legislation giving girls the same access to education as boys. And
the first step is to give them a good secondary education.
In Rwanda, there have been efforts to encourage
that trend, with the government launching its own initiatives and supporting
some private ones to create all-girls schools. The effort has been boosted by a
partnership with a group of Americans. Sister Ann Fox of the US city of Boston
met with a female lawmaker from Rwanda, Alosia Inyumba, and together they
created what came to known as the Maranyundo Initiative.
Fox says the goal of the project is to provide community-based education for
young girls. Working with women from Sister Ann’s parish, they built a boarding
school in the rural Rwandan province of Bugesera. Sister Ann says the
initiative “represents an international partnership of educators, government
leaders, and dedicated visionaries aimed at helping Rwandan girls forge a
bright future for their people.”
The school opened earlier this year
with an enrollment of 60 students. Sister Fox says the target is to enroll
almost 200 students within three years. “The parents have been very receptive,”
she says. The school will be administered by local teachers and a group of
Catholic nuns based in area. Students will be admitted according to financial
need and their scores in national exams.
Sister Ann says even though some
students come from the city, the emphasis is on rural students from all over
the country. “The girls were very receptive and pleased that they are now able
to get a good education,” says Sister Fox.