The Ministry of education has said that it is taking care of about 11 secondary school students of Burundian origin who were left stranded when their country closed its borders on Sunday and ordered mandatory quarantine for anyone entering the country.
Claudette Irere, the Minister of State in charge of ICT, Technical Vocational Education and Training, told The New Times in a telephone interview that the children declined being quarantined, a right that the government chose to respect.
"It's a choice. We cannot force children to go through a quarantine. We had 11 and we are looking at this on a case by case basis and we are prepared to ensure that whoever doesn't feel like leaving the country is kept safe," she said.
The government is currently testing all students for the coronavirus before sending them to their respective homes.
Irere said that while some of the foreign students were sent to live with their extended families based in Rwanda, those who have none are being accommodated.
"The students who have no families here are going to keep here with us and we will make sure that they have everything that they need until everything clears up," she said.
Support higher learning students
Irere called on higher institutions of learning to exercise restraint in the process of sending students home in the wake of shortage of buses.
The Ministry of Health on Saturday, March 14 issued a statement stipulating that schools, places of worship, and large gatherings among others are temporarily suspended for an initial period of two weeks effective Sunday, 15 March.
The move is in line with further strengthening the country's ability to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, after Rwanda confirmed its positive first case.
The cases have since increased to five.
On Sunday, students from boarding secondary schools in Kigali City and Southern Province started returning home.
She said that though the government is currently focused on making sure that secondary school students from all over the country make it home, those in higher schools of learning had not been forgotten.
"First, we are making sure that the secondary school students make it home but that doesn't mean that we have forgotten the rest. We are collaborating with these intuitions to make sure that students who are yet to get transportation means continue to be accommodated," she said.
Irere pointed out that the exercise to transport students back to their respective provinces was going well, the shortage of buses had been challenging.
This she said, is expected to push the process of transporting students from schools located in Northern, Eastern and Western Provinces, scheduled today Monday, March 16, to continue through Tuesday and perhaps even Wednesday.
She called for partnerships in making the process faster and easier.
"What is happening now is not something that was expected. We are using the few resources that we have to make sure that every child gets home safely. However, we need teamwork. For instance, parents who have cars should pick up their children because the buses are few as compared to the number of students," she said.
Bruce Uhoraningoga is a UR Huye 1st Year Medical Student. He told The New Times that he arrived at the Bus Park at about 9am on Monday, in search for a bus to Kigali but found long queues of fellow students.
"I was lucky to get on the 2pm bus but not everyone had that chance. The only bus company that is working is called Alpha and it has a limited fleet. Everyone is desperate to go home," he said.
By 6pm, Gentillesse Cyuzuzo had gone back to campus after she failed to find a bus.
"Almost all of us came back because there were no buses. Those going to Gisagara and other places beyond Huye were getting buses but the ones coming towards Kigali, who are the majority are stranded. Bus companies said we should check tomorrow," she said.
The University of Rwanda (UR) Huye Campus Minister of Social Affairs; Brian Mutagomwa said that those who woke up very early had been able to travel and by Monday evening, there were still those who hadn't made it. He however pointed out that they would not be locked out of their halls tonight.
"The number has reduced. I am at the campus and I can see a difference. Those who don't make it home today will do so tomorrow. We hope that by then, the issue will be resolved," he said.
Some precautionary measures that every Rwandan should follow so as to help tackle the pandemic include; avoiding unnecessary travels to countries with COVID-19, avoiding handshakes and hugs and frequently washing hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
The measures also include avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth before washing hands.
Citizens can also call 114, Rwanda Biomedical Center's toll-free number, for further guidance.
Tags:Ministry of educationBurundian studentsCoronavirus