31 December 2012

Rwanda: Muhanga School Evicted From Stadium Premises

Muhanga — The Muhanga-based centre for handicapped children has been evicted from the premises of the district stadium to pave way for rehabilitation works.

Local leaders in Muhanga district asked the school to vacate some of the rooms it was using as classrooms last week. The rooms, which are part of Muhanga football stadium, had been temporarily given to the centre and it had been using it for over a year.

But, with the stadium under renovation, the rooms are set to be transformed into dressing facilities, information from local authorities indicate.

As such, the school could not continue operating there, sources told this paper.

"We were informed of the decision only a few days ago," the centre director, Leoncie Mukamwezi lamented, saying the information reached them on December 24.

"As such, it is very hard to find new rooms for use in the next academic year," she added, appealing to the government and other well-wishers to support them in their quest to provide quality education to disabled children in the area.

Mukamwezi told The New Times that the centre needs a lot of infrastructure and special equipments to cater for the specialised education that handicapped children need.

Primary and secondary schools are due to open on January 7, 2013 countrywide.

"I think we shall delay our opening day for at least a week," Mukamwezi said, before adding: "We are doing our best to make sure the children are not affected."

According to Mukamwezi, the centre envisages to transform the students dormitory into classrooms and then a playing room into a dormitory as a way of responding to the new challenges.

The school has a block of houses under the stadium which is mainly used by administration and for accommodation of the children.

Out of 146 permanent students at the centre, 105 were using the rooms at the stadium for their education.

"We are hopeful that we will continue to provide education to the children," Mukamwezi said.

She appealed for support from the government and other well-wishers, saying providing education to children with disabilities demands a lot of infrastructure and funds.

Fortunée Mukagatana, Muhanga district vice mayor in charge of social affairs said the district is ready to offer 'any possible support' to the Centre in order to keep providing education to the disabled children it caters for.

But, she maintained the 'prime responsibility is for the centre's management".

"It is their responsibility to set up infrastructure and other needed facilities," Mukagatana told The New Times in a phone interview.

HRD (Handicapé Rwandais, Réhabilité, Réintégré dans ses Driots) centre offers basic life skills in addition to other formal education programmes to children with disabilities.

Children enrolled at this centre are mainly those with mental disabilities as well as hearing impairments. The school has 168 students, including 146 who are attending courses on a permanent basis. Twenty two others attend specialised education, according to the school management.

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