When a clergy professes a belief and lives to act, it often yields forth for the community. And for Zambian evangelist Joseph Ndashe, there was not a second day that he doubted the heights at which the education sector in Rwanda will rise.
“We’ll never go wrong if we invest in Rwanda,” the Bishop Ndashe had told leaders at a local church in Tennessee, Cleveland, after doing an assessment of the opportunities in Rwanda.
The Zambian only saw the roses in the education sector and today, he says there is no better time to invest in it than now, because new policies in the country are more than enticing.
Bishop Ndashe convinced the US-based Church of God World Missions to invest nearly Rwf450m in buying and renovating a secondary school in Niboye, Kicukiro district. This was after the mission’s initial plan to build a Rwf750m secondary school in the same region had failed due to registration pitfalls.
In 2011, the Church of God World Missions in Rwanda bought the formerly French-speaking general secondary education provider, Ecole Secondaire St. Patrick, at Rwf350m. The church, which by then was only registered in Kicukiro district, has turned St. Patrick into an A-Level technical school called Church of God St. Patrick Secondary School.
Bishop Ndashe, who is now the school’s administrator, said the government’s current education policy that focus on either technical training or general education instead of doing both is encouraging.
“We opted to go for professionals so that if the students fail to go to university they are able to use what they learned to go and get employment, that’s one of the things that attracted us,” he said. “And then there is no much interference from the government as long as you follow the right policy without breaching.”
He also said the shift to using English as the language of instruction in schools instead of French was another attractive point for his church because most of its trainers speak English.
The church’s investment in the school came as a relief for its former owners Anastase Sebudandi and associates who couldn’t afford to exclusively train students taking professional courses since they would lose money without students taking general courses in O-Level.
“We were going to cut the number of our students from 600 to 200 and that was not going to generate enough money to pay off our loans,” Sebudandi said. “We were failing to maintain the school.”
The church invested an extra Rwf50m to renovate classrooms, buy computer equipment, and increase teachers’ salaries. It is also planning to invest another Rwf50m to provide better computer labs and washrooms for the school.
Profits expected after five years
Bishop Ndashe says he hopes to make a return on his investment in the next five years. Focus will then shift to expansion to receive international students.
It all looks like a long shot given, but the prospects are rosy. Last year, the country’s target of students entering Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system was 40 per cent of all graduates of nine-year basic education, while the target by 2017 is projected at 60 per cent.
According to Pacifique Karinda, who oversees human capital and institutional development at the Rwanda Development Board, the current demand for TVET schools calls for more investment.
“We believe it’s a big opportunity for investors because this is a new system that is being implemented,” he said.
For the Church of God World Missions in Rwanda, Karinda could be preaching to the converted because it has already bought two pieces of land; in Gahanga, Kicukiro district, and in Nyagatare, inEastern Province, to expand its chalkboards.