More should be done in Education –voters

On 26 July 2017 at 10:00

As the presidential campaigns continue to get in high gear, the three candidates have continued to solicit for votes by explaining their manifestos and what they will do if elected to the highest office of the land.
While education is one of the key elements that is featuring in the ongoing presidential campaigns, some of the voters interviewed by IGIHE feel more is needed to improve the quality of education in tertiary institutions. Residents of Gatsibo admitted that President Kagame did (...)

As the presidential campaigns continue to get in high gear, the three candidates have continued to solicit for votes by explaining their manifestos and what they will do if elected to the highest office of the land.

While education is one of the key elements that is featuring in the ongoing presidential campaigns, some of the voters interviewed by IGIHE feel more is needed to improve the quality of education in tertiary institutions. Residents of Gatsibo admitted that President Kagame did well to introduce the 12-year basic education program, but then they feel that the program should be extended to the university level in this district and other places.

Ernestine Tuyisenge, 23, from Remera Sector, who completed the basic education level, hopes that whoever is elected should extend the program proportionally to the national and up to the university level.

She said, “For instance, in this District, we have one faculty at the University of Technology and Arts of Byumba (UTAB), which operates from Kiramuruzi, and not all of us can join the institution because of limited resources.”

“If you fail to graduate from basic education level, you end up failing to get what to do, on top of failing to get admitted to other colleges where we can improve on our academic qualifications. We need technical skills to develop ourselves in our field.”

The same opinion was emphasized by Emmanuel Dushimirimana from Rwimbogo Sector. He thinks that establishing a technical institute in each district is what the president to be should focus on.

“Basic level students need to further their education, so whoever is elected should establish more technical schools, so that we acquire knowledge, since, after the basic level, we become redundant, as a result of having learned, what is irrelevant on the job market,” he explained.




Concerned 27-07-2017 à 22:02

Dear Concerned Citizens of Rwanda,

We are writing this letter out of a serious concern for the general well-being of the young people of your country that many of your citizens are sending to Layton Christian Academy (LCA), located in Layton, Utah, USA. Our identities are unimportant; however, most will determine that the concerns that are communicated below are extremely important. The details that we have provided below will assure you that we have close associations with LCA, which has allowed us to make these observations, which have raised the questions and concerns that are being brought to the attention of you and your readers. Some of these concerns have been raised with the leadership of the school, by us and others; however, they have been completely ignored and disregarded. We have resorted to sending this letter to the newspapers, based in Kigali, which we understand are printed in English, with the hope that the parents of current and former students, and the general public, can be informed enough to simply ask questions of the students, past and present, and the school representatives, regarding these concerns, to see if they receive, responses that resolve any concerns that they may be raised, by this information. We realize that at this time, many students and families are making preparations to travel to the US to enroll at LCA. These are the individuals that are the most affected and most exploited by these conditions and concerns. The responses that they receive from the school, concerning these issues, is what is truly important, not the identity of the writers of this communication. Do not allow the representatives of LCA to refuse to respond to these concerns and do not allow them to confuse and conflate the issues. The concerns of note are detailed below:

General Environment:
LCA is an extension of the Christian Life Center (CLC) Church. This church had a close association with the Assemblies of God denomination, early in it’s existence. However, due to many questions about the personal conduct and ethics of the pastor and other members of the staff, in years past, the church has transitioned to an independent, non-denominational status. One major concern is that the church leadership promotes many of the socially conservative, white-supremacist ideologies that were held by the Europeans, that ruled your country during the colonial period and fostered the tensions that led to the conflicts and genocide of your recent past. These attitudes, opinions, and practices continue to be alive and active among many persons of European descent, within the church and school, and were on full display when hatred of US President Barak Obama was openly demonstrated by the pastor, church leadership, some LCA faculty and staff, and many members of the congregation that your residential students are required to worship with on Sundays. This is evidenced in the online postings of the church services, during this time. Further evidence for this belief is offerred by the fact that that the church has welcomed noted American conservatives and white-supremacists, such as Glenn Beck, Senator Orrin Hatch, and The Heritage Society, during this same period of time, who have been allowed to promote their racially bigoted ideologies on the LCA campus, during the time that students from Rwanda have been in attendance. This has produced a significant decline in church attendance by non-whites, over this period of time. While the public, including people of color, are welcome to attend, they are required to accept the white-supremacist ideals, often communicated from the pulpit, in order to tolerate what often takes place during the church services.

Another concern is the general system of nepotism that has existed, and continues to exist at CLC and LCA. The pastor, his wife, and 3, sometimes 4, of their children are employed there, receiving full-time salaries from the church/school. The head-of-school (Greg Miller), his wife (the assistant HoS, Karen Miller), and 2, sometimes 3, of their children have enjoyed the same benefits of nepotism. If that was not enough, some of these children are even provided with homes to live in, free of charge, by LCA, and/or paid to host international students, when they serve as host or house parents. This was particularly troublesome when the pastor’s reportedly divorced son was living with his girlfriend, as an unmarried couple, while serving as host parents to two female international students. (This was especially disturbing since it was clearly in contradiction to the ethical standards of the Christian faith.) Marriage between him and his girlfriend was never announced, although they served as house parents, in an international student residence, for a period of time as well. Even the wives of the high school principals have been employed as full-time teachers, by the school.

The financial concerns, detailed above, are of particular concern because international students generally, and students from the African continent, in particular, are more often treated as sources of income rather than as young people that should receive the love and care that loving parents expect for their children, while they are under the care of others, thousands of miles from home. This situation becomes especially offensive at the graduation ceremony, where students single out the Millers for thanks, when they are often treated so callously, by them and the staff. This concern will be further discussed, below.

Additionally, for a so-called Christian school, the ethical standards of Christian faith and practice are rarely evidenced. In addition to the situation discussed above, many domestic students and families have noted that LCA operates as a Christian school, in name only. One incident from the past school year especially stands out. After the final game of the girls varsity basketball team, a loss in the state playoffs, the head coach, Aaron Schrader, verbally assaulted his team with an angry tirade, full of the most vulgar profanities and obscenities. These verbally and psychologically abusive vulgarities were directed at his team of teenage girls, one of whom was a student from Rwanda. This was done in the presence of three other adults, two assistant coaches and the athletic trainer. None of these adults felt that there would be any concern coming from the athletic director, Jared Miller, the son of the head of school, so they did not report the incident to him. However, the incident was reported to the high school principal, who provided a written account of the incident to the head of school, Greg Miller. This resulted in no action on his part. Neither the coach, the adult witnesses, nor the players were interviewed, by him. The coach was not reprimanded, disciplined, or addressed in any way. The treatment of this incident, by the head of school and athletic director, clearly demonstrates that they have no care or concern about the incident or the parties involved, at all.

Furthermore, the Millers, particularly, Karen Miller do not even care enough to learn many of the international students’ names and how to pronounce them. She regularly calls students by the wrong first name and butchers the pronunciation of their family names, while laughing and joking about it, at the same time. When this is the attitude that is projected by the leadership of the school, it further demonstrates to the students and the staff, that there is no genuine care and concern for the international students in general and the Rwandan students, in particular, on the part of the institution and its leadership.

Health and Safety:
The residential program is ran poorly and many of the house parents are unqualified to be these positions. They regularly demonstrate their lack of concern for the students by forcing them to walk to the school, along a busy highway, for meals and classes, on many occasions. Additionally, they provide little to no supervision or support, in the homes. Many of the houses are staffed by single individuals, mostly women. Single women/single mothers staffing the houses for teenage boys is a particular concern, due to the inappropriate dress of these individuals, at times, and the gender-related tensions that these situations foster. Some of the house parents are frequently out of the home, until late in the evening, particularly the singles, leaving the students unsupervised and/or unable to enter their homes, for long periods of time. It is suspected that this lack of concern and adequate supervision has led to some of the drug-related issues, in certain homes, that have led to the use of illegal drugs and the expulsion of some students, in recent years.

Many, but not all, of the homes are allowed to deteriorate to filthy and unsanitary conditions, during the school year. These conditions have led to insect infestations and at least one student contracting a fungal infection, that may have been the result of the unhealthy conditions within the home.

Of particular concern is the fact that the husband of the high school secretary has been convicted of crimes that require him to register as a sex offender, in any community that allows him to reside in it. It has been reported that this woman is moving into a role specifically concerned with the supervision of international students. This is disturbing because Utah state law does not allow registered sex offenders to come onto school grounds. In direct violation of this law, this convicted criminal can often be found on the campus of LCA. Even more disturbing is the fact that it is well-known that the secretary takes female students into her home, in the presence of her sex offender husband. We expect that the parents of the young ladies from Rwanda would not be pleased to know that their daughters are being brought into this dangerous environment.

Also, it should be noted that when some Rwandan students need professional medical care, it is routinely delayed or denied. There was one recent incident when a student suffered a serious cut to his face. The host parent did not seek medical attention for the student, at the time of the injury. When the student returned to school, they were still denied medical treatment, even after the parent(s) verbally guaranteed that they would be financially responsible for any expenses, not fully covered by the insurance that students are required to purchase, in order to attend the school.

Cost, Economic Exploitation, and Mistreatment:
As stated above, it appears that international students are being treated merely as sources of revenue for the school and church. It is often stated, by church and school leadership, that the tuition paid by the international students provides much of operating capital for the church. Many observers are under the general impression that students from Rwanda and other African nations are charged higher tuition, than students from other regions and countries, for the international student residential program at LCA. This appears to be another effort, on the part of whites, to exploit the resources of people of color for their singular benefit, in similar fashion to the vestiges of colonialism and slavery. There is at least one piece of documentary evidence that Rwandan students are singled out to pay two times the fee of other international students, for some school provided services. An additional piece of evidence of exploitation and mistreatment is the fact that if a student’s tuition payments fall behind, due to no fault of their own, these students are often not allowed to attend classes, until their bill is paid. Their education in hindered and they are publicly embarrassed by being put on display when they are forced to sit in the hallways or the gymnasium, while they are being held out of class. During this time, they are often subjected to the ridicule of their peers. Domestic students, who find themselves in similar circumstances, are not handled or treated in this way.

Beyond the deceptions detailed above, international students and their families are often told that if they graduate from LCA, after attending for at least two full years or four consecutive semesters, they are guaranteed to meet all requirements to qualify to pay the same college tuition as residents of the state of Utah, at all colleges and universities, in the state. While this may have held true at some schools, in the past, this situation is subject to change at the college or university level, without any notice. The administration of LCA cannot guarantee this tuition reduction will apply at all or in all circumstances. The certification for this opportunity can only come from the college or university. It is a deceptive practice, on the part of LCA, to promote the international student program.

While the report above is lengthy, it is not to be considered as exhaustive. We anticipate that there are many other incidences of exploitation, deception, and harm that are taking place, that have been concealed well enough that we have not been able to take note of them. We encourage you and the parents to question the students. They are those most affected and will be most capable of validating the issues and concerns that are reported above.