A starting point of promoting peace and Protestant values
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not turn from it”. The understanding and analysis of this verse call parents and all bodies involved in the parental system to come together and unite their efforts for a quality education and the promotion of the individual, as the individual is important for both the Church and the State.
Education is the key factor in a holistic development – from early childhood education to adult education. In Rwanda, education is seen as the basis, especially in the period after the genocide, in which the Rwandan government, together with the churches, invested a great deal in education: For example, the Rwandan Government has initiated the education system for all, which means that every child can go to school and has the right to free education.
The nursery school program
The nursery school program was initially initiated in churches, especially in Anglican and Pentecostal churches. Every local church has a nusery school there to teach the young people; to train them to remember verses in the Bible, but also to teach them how to be polite at home, in the church and elsewhere. The programme is also supported by the government. It mobilizes parents to build a school and pays a teacher to teach the children. Difficulties arise where parents who are really poor cannot send their children to school due to limited resources. If you look closely at these cases, you often find that these parents are widows or victims of HIV/AIDS. Another problem is that nursery schools are not everywhere: There are about three to four institutions in a sector. A child coming from a remote location a few kilometres away has a hard time reaching school. In such a case, both the parents and the child must fight, because the parents must then employ a person to accompany the child and provide sufficient food if the child gets hungry. The churches are trying to support Christians and promote the attitude of joining cooperatives and associations where small sums of money can be saved, but the road to solving the problem is still long. The church is a real help here, as there are churches even in remote places where there is no village or sector administration.
What children are benefitting from nursery schools?
In Rwanda, studies were carried out and children who go to nursery school and children who do not were compared with each other. The results clearly showed that the children attending nursery school were able to react more quickly and that their social behaviour in dealing with classmates and parents was more pronounced. Children who do not go to nursery school were much more reserved, less self-confident and more biased in social contacts.
Promoting the culture of peace and Protestant value
In Rwanda peace is not something you simply have; you have to practice it. Teaching children about peace and Protestant values is therefore a very important foundation of the Church and the nation. The problem is to find trained teachers. Where can one acquire the corresponding knowledge? Who is responsible for this important issue? We all know that a group of people who make themselves strong and audible and who mobilize others can make a difference. The Rwandan Government is doing a good job of launching various programmes to mobilise people, but the need is still high. Protestant churches are therefore called to work together to build sustainable peace and evangelical values.
Rev Emmanuel Mugiraneza
Anglican Church of Rwanda