In an address to the membership of AERG, President Paul Kagame stated that for Rwanda to achieve its development goals and be more competitive, the youth must embrace technical and vocational training.
President Kagame was speaking at the close of a two-week retreat earlier this week that brought together students who survived the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in membership of AERG (National Student’s Association of Genocide Survivors).
The President described how the mainstream education system has not guaranteed employment. He argued that even with the increasing number of universities, those who graduate can neither find employment nor create their own jobs. As such, he stressed the importance of opting for practical education that would make students more competitive on the job market:
“The Government will endeavor to improve the lives of every Rwandan, to give everyone equal opportunities and providing assistance to those who are victims of our sad history. We are one family and there is no reason why we should fail to find solutions to our problems as a united family.”
He commended the young survivors for choosing to forge ahead with their lives, despite their sad past:
“While ours is a bad story, we don’t accept absurdity and ridicule. The most important thing is to refuse to be prisoners of our sad history; the rest will click in place. We cannot accept to die twice, we have to pick our pieces and build our lives. This we can’t learn from any books”
The President pointed out that with a skilled labour force in technical education, more firms will set shop in Rwanda, consequently creating employment opportunities. He gave an example of Singapore where airplane engine factories have established factories as a result of the technical skills of the Singaporeans.
“These companies don’t go to places because they have lawyers or economists, they set up the factories because of the skilled labour,” Kagame explained.
At the same function the President commended the youth for their resilience, saying that while Rwandans were affected by the sad history, they have a fighting spirit.
Rwanda has the spirit of survival, of not giving up, he said, calling on the youth to build on that spirit to build a better future for themselves, the country and generations to come.
“You have to be competitive, the country has to be competitive,” the President told the youth, adding that being a market leader is not by accident but a result of hard work.
Despite having experienced the lowest points of life as a result of the Genocide, Rwandans have come out strong and more determined to go beyond the sad history and take lead in creating a prosperous country.
AERG is proof of this. It shows the identity of a new Rwanda, Kagame told the youth.
Survivors Fund (SURF) has been working with AERG since 2009 to support the organisation to strengthen the job prospects of its membership through an Education into Employment programme. We are now extending this work through a new entrepreneurship project too.