A self- learning model is turning disadvantaged youth in Gahanga sector into the next generation innovators and job creators.
According to Rwanda’s 2021 Labour Force Survey, youth have the highest rate of unemployment with 20.3 percent, against 12.7 percent for adults.
Ananias Tuyisenge is one of them. He was born a normal child but at the age of eight his legs got crippled as he started the first year of primary education.
Tuyisenge’s sickness and handicap resulted in his father abandoning the family, denying him a chance to continue schooling.
“With an unemployed mother, I spent years as a street beggar to earn bread for the family, which was hard,” Tuyisenge narrates.
He says he was so desperate but had a talent for singing and one day a friend asked him to try his luck at Rwanda Nook Hub (RNH) – a community based center which admits youth to learn life skills using a self learning model.
The Nook education program is different from formal schools where learners are chosen for what they should learn instead of what they want to learn. The program has what they call cycles instead of semesters.
Unlike the normal school model where a child learns many things, the RNH model is built on the idea that a child can dream and through self-learning choose what they want to do in life and using the internet and resources on YouTube make their dreams come true.
Dreams to Innovations
With the content uploaded on Google and YouTube, RNH students choose to use it profitably to learn more on how to implement their dream.
For instance, if a child dreams of building a mobile flexible convertible sofa bed, they search it on the internet using the seven computers and free internet at the center and spend days learning how to do it.
Once the child has the concept (a dream), the RNH center through support from Dream Village helps them to implement the idea into reality.
For instance, at RNH center students were able to display different innovations learnt online in culinary arts (making a cake out of carrots, banana), welding works (mobile oven made out of scrap, convertible beds, seats and mental doors) , saloon and hair dressing and music production (songs and beats).
“The Nook hub is a self learning center, in the center there’s laptops, internet and other tools then the learners come and go on the internet they do research on what they want to know for themselves, there’s no teacher, no curriculum, no exams and no certificates. We only offer space and tools,” said Sylivia Ingabire, the Dream Village Programs Director.
“We don’t choose for children what they want to learn because we know that they have something they like to learn,” Ingabire said.
The model is one of a kind in Rwanda but for many youth including girls, school drop outs and for disabled boys this has been an opening to pursue life careers in Gahanga and specifically for Tuyisenge who now has a music career rather than remaining a handicapped beggar.
“I have so far produced ten songs and my latest is called ‘I will never forget you’. After becoming a star here my father has returned home to help me,” Tuyisenge aka ‘Shani-Boy’ said.
Tuyisenge is one of the 45 students in the 3rd cycle since RNH started in July 2019, who exhibited their work this weekend to parents and local leaders, what they have learnt on their own.
Fabiola Ingabire, a school drop joined RNH and chose welding- a career normally dominated by men.
“I choose this section because there are few women and many opportunities,” says Ingabire, one of the 2rd cycle students who is now on internship at Chillington Rwanda, a steel company and plans to open an all women welding cooperative.
Maria Josiane Ugiriwabo, also a female welder, says joining the Knook program kept her busy after dropping out of school thus preventing her from getting early pregnancy.
Not only school drop outs join RNH. Safina Iraguha Dada, completed Senior 6 and chose to join the center to be innovative instead of waiting to be employed.
At the height of COVID-19 she developed a sanitizer and soap formulas which she wants to pursue but says she needs financial support.
Though this model/ program looks promising to bridge gaps in creating jobs for youth, its limitations include availability of computers, reliable Wi-Fi internet and lack of onsite teachers, raw materials to implement their dreams on time and funding for mass production.
Gahanga local leaders promised to provide fully paid reliable internet and also advocate for funding to enable the students to expand their ideas into practice.
The Dream Village Officials also revealed that they plan to open up more 10 Nook centers across the country to expand the model to other youths.