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Celebrating ‘my health, my dignity’ on International Day of the Girl Child, 2022

The UK Aid-funded Building Learning Foundations programme (BLF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Rwanda, celebrated International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC), marking the event under the national theme, ‘My health, my dignity’.

The celebration was held on 11 October in all 21 schools that have girls’ clubs supported by BLF. At each school, BLF rewarded two girls who had improved the most in English and Mathematics in the previous academic year. The girls were given a school bag filled with educational materials.

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The national event was co-hosted by BLF and Rulindo District, at Groupe Scolaire Shyorongi, a large government-aided school in the rural northern part of Rwanda. Senior government officials, including the Mayor of Rulindo District, the Director General in the Ministry of Education and a representative from the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) also attended.

The official ceremony was preceded by a visit to a girls’ safe room, set up with funds donated by a nearby British mining company. The safe room provides girls with items such as sanitary towels, which they can access whenever they need.

In her speech, Judith Mukanyirigira, Mayor of Rulindo district, said,

“We all know that the risks associated with limited knowledge and negative social norms related to sexual reproductive health and rights are increasing, especially cases of child abuse and teenage pregnancies.

“These issues continue to be a child protection concern which must attract great attention from all of us working in local government and as educators, development partners, community members and children themselves.

“I appreciate our partnership with BLF, which established girls’ clubs in our schools and trained gender-focused teachers. Today I was impressed when I heard that you are awarding prizes to the members of girls’ clubs who improved the most in their studies. We can’t thank you enough for the work you are doing in our schools to improve learning outcomes of students.”

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FCDO representative, Rosalind Gater, who addressed girls at another school marking IDGC 2022 said,

“Many of you will be celebrating today as you have received awards for the progress you have made at school. Congratulations! Today, I ask you to persevere. To keep working, to work harder, to attend school every day and be proud as you rise to even greater heights.

“We at the British High Commission, and the UK Government we represent, stand with you. The UK Government has committed to stand up for the right of every girl around the world to have access to 12 years of quality education.”

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Girls’ clubs and BLF

BLF and 21 schools participating in the pilot programme identified the most vulnerable girls and encouraged them to join the girls’ clubs. Many of these girls miss classes frequently, which affects their grades, while others come from very low income families or families where conflict impacts negatively on their learning outcomes.

A member of the girls’ clubs who spoke on behalf of her fellow students thanked BLF for providing a safe space for the girls to discuss issues affecting their learning. She explained that she had learnt how to differentiate facts from myths around sexual reproductive health. All celebrations around the country were attended by teachers, community leaders and students.

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