Rwanda has pulled together church leaders, school owners, business owners and many others who are invested in Christian education in Rwanda for what was a truly inspiring event. In collaboration with the Association of Christian Schools International, we held the first ever Rwanda Roundtable to discuss issues facing Christian schools and leaders here in Rwanda. Edify had the pleasure of sitting on the planning committee, and it was truly remarkable to watch it all unfold, being part of such a powerful momentum – one which I am sure sparked a movement.
International speakers came to talk about what makes a truly Christian school, and why Africa’s time is now. Rwanda’s education sector was pushed to wrestle with the idea of what to do, when so many of the so called Christian schools have been given over to the government. In Rwanda, there are three types of schools. Fully public, fully private, and government subsidized. The subsidized schools were often started by churches, but handed over to the government. The government has control over which teachers are hired, while the church can only intervene in the religious life of the school. This has led to a very bifurcated system where Christian schools no longer espouse excellence and Christian values in instruction, while opening access to free education to more students in Rwanda.
The movement to reclaim Christian education for what it really is was sparked, and I was encouraged by the Edify model and our amazing edupreneurs that attended. They are in a pivotal position, being fully private, to make all of the decisions necessary in the life of the school. They were encouraged to espouse excellence, be examples, ensure their staff are all Christians, and reach out to those around them.
One of our school owners told me at the end of the conference, “this is so important. I have to find a way to support these subsidized schools, and be an example at the same time. I have to make sure my students faith is number one, God is number one at my school, and academics are second. In Rwanda, we often reverse that.”