Parents and guardians still have to cover some items such as buying school uniform, school materials such as notebooks, and pens among others.
Besides, those whose children eat from school have to pay a certain amount to complement to the government’s school feeding programme.
In 2016, enrollment in Primary schools stood at 97.7 percent in Primary but retention was low as the completion was at 62.1 per cent, according to the data from the ministry of education.
In secondary, the net enrolment rate in the same period was 32.9 per cent
Claudine Yanana, 38-year-old and a single mother of three from Kivumu sector in Rutsiro district in western province, admits that she could hardly manage to send her kids to school when she didn’t receive support from Vision Umurenge Programme commonly known as VUP.
Yanana together with her kids lived poorly until two years ago when she joined VUP.
“Before I joined VUP I was too poor to even buy a soap to wash ourselves and neither could I get basic needs to educate my children” Yanana who works in classic work VUP category says.
Yanana gets Rwf10, 000 per month from VUP which she uses to buy basics needs including school materials to her children.
Though it is little compared to the needs, she says she manages to use the balance to buy school materials to her children and this has helped improve their school performance.
“My children can get school materials such as pens, note books and uniform, sometimes I also buy shoes for them and they study well unlike previously when I was not working in VUP,” she says.
VUP also helps her fight malnutrition. “I can manage to get something to cook for them and make sure that they eat and wash themselves before they go to school,” she notes stressing that her children are not malnourished as before.
Yanana’s story is not an isolated case. Other VUP beneficiaries from various parts of the country laud the programme as a boost not only in education but in the entire life.
“I have two children who study in secondary, because I am in the first category of Ubudehe, I pay half of the school fees worth Rwf7,500 each per term, I ensure that I pay Rwf15,000 per term,” says Eleuteri Rwabufigiri a father of three who hails from Mpanga sector in Kirehe district.
The father of three says that VUP helps him manage to cultivate his land and get yields that helps him feed the children and save part of the money to cover his contribution and pay part to his children’s education.
He also has small livestock mainly goats and cultivates coffee on part of his land.
For students from the vulnerable parents especially those belonging in the first Ubudehe category like Gilbert Habimana, education is possible thanks the fact that VUP exists.
“It was very sad to be chased from the school because we didn’t pay little fees needed to contribute to school feeding programme. As we could not even it regularly at home, I sometimes considered dropping out,” says a S4 student from Groupe Scolaire Rutunga, based in Gasabo district.
But the 18-year-old boy says that he now his father affords all the basics for him and his brother to be to school, eat from there and his follows lessons well.
“Now I can think properly about my future, which was not the case before, all is thanks to VUP,” he adds.
“I aspire to become an IT engineer and I hope I will make it. I wish other children (from vulnerable families) like me were put under VUP to easily continue their studies and achieve their dreams,” he urges.
According to Justine Gatsinzi, the division manager of social protection at Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA) says that while there are no figures of children who are in schools are a result of VUP, the government is aware that more kids are kept in schools thanks to the programme.
“What we have got in different evaluations is that VUP helps beneficiaries send children to school, to find them materials like notebooks, pens, school uniform” he says.
“When a household lacks meals, a child is likely to not go to school or goes for child labour to earn food. The fact that VUP earns households food security and affords contributions for school meals, it helps a lot,” he adds.
By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti