Marie Claire Mukashema, 13, no longer begs for money from her parents to buy her needs. She has gotten enough to spend from her savings after joining a programme initiated by Groups Scolaire Congo Nil, a secondary school in Rutsiro District.
In 2016, the school located in Gihango Sector, started encouraging students to save money in groups in a bid to help reduce school drop outs due to lack of basic materials.
They formed groups according to students’ means in the “Mfite Icyerekezo”initiative, loosely translated as “I have a vision.”
The teacher in charge of this initiative, Marie France Usanase, says they have different saving schemes. For instance, a student can save Rwf5000 per week.
“If you count from last year, for instance, you will find out that a student who saved Rwf5000 per week would have saved Rwf500, 000,” she said.
However, she noted that at times the student might have problems and decide to withdraw the money or buy stuff.
Mukashema, a senior two student has been saving since 2016 when she was in P6. She has now has Rwf240, 000 on her account.
“I used to spend a lot of money per day. I began saving and continued saving. When my savings reached Rwf25,000, I increased what I spared for savings. My mother would give me Rwf100 to buy myself a doughnut and I saved it. Now, I have Rwf240, 000.”
Mukashema says that if she does not find tuition, she would use her savings.
Meanwhile, Mukashema has more sources of revenues. At home, when the family harvests crops, she saves a little from the revenues from the sold yields.
She also belongs to a local dancing troop. She says that when the troop goes to perform, each member earns a fee. Mukashema saves her cut.
Mukashema’s mother, Marie Rose Nyiransengimana, says her daughter now rears two goats and three rabbits worth Rwf50,000 as a result of saving.
“When I give her Rwf100 to buy a doughnut, she saves it on her account. Thanks to her savings, she can now buy herself shoes and clothes,” the mother says.
The school has 12 saving groups for ordinary level students, one comprised of between 25 and 30 members.
Grouse Scolaire Congo Nil Headteacher Priest Paul Maniragaba says that since this initiative was created, students have not been dropping out of school.
He added that even when a student has no enough savings to spend on something they need, teachers can lend them some money and pay back later.
The school authority says other schools can emulate this initiative.