Did Imbuto Make the Grade?

Yes! -- ASYV Graduates Rank Among the Top in Rwanda on their National Exams

ASYV congratulates the Imbuto Grade graduates for their terrific performance on the Senior 6 National Exam. For the graduates who wish to continue on to higher education, they must pass a National Exam given by the Rwandan Board of Education. This year’s exam was especially difficult. According to the New Times, a Rwandan daily newspaper, “fewer than 3% of grades are A’s, and 30% of students failed [the] exam.”**  It is with great pride we announce that four ASYV graduates scored among the top ten in the country on the English examination. Of these four, two students received absolute perfect scores.  

Innocent Nzayisenga, one of the four top performers, said of his reaction to the exam results, “I thought they confused my marks. I was very surprised!” An orphan of both parents, Innocent came to ASYV without hope of finishing high school, let alone attending university on a government scholarship. The family structure of ASYV is a helpful tool in motivating students to take on the challenge of turning around one’s life; a struggle that Innocent knows first hand. Upon arriving at ASYV, Innocent had never used the word Mama. It was a month before he felt comfortable calling out to his Mama in the Village. Four years later, Innocent, now a talented musician and singer-songwriter, tells me “I have many Mamas in the Village. I feel at home and am no longer alone. I know I have a family. With their support I study hard and that is how I became the student I am now.”  

It is in pursuit of this transformation that ASYV focuses intently on the Hebrew principle of Tikkun Halev, “repairing the heart.” A student cannot perform at their best if they are studying on an empty stomach or worrying about where they will find next month’s school fees. The traumas that many ASYV students endure in their past are not wounds that are easily mended. It takes time for students to ease into the rhythm of school, to hone their English skills, and feel comfortable among their Village families. Moses Illunga, ASYV’s Career Development Coordinator, stresses the importance of the Enrichment Year or “catch-up” year that is offered at ASYV. He tells me, “Enrichment Year helps these kids to know who they are and to heal themselves. You cannot expect them to pass their exams or to focus on their studies when they have scars and wounds inside.” 

Due to this year’s high marks, ASYV is eligible to receive 35 state funded scholarships and over 50 Survivor’s Fund Scholarships, which are set aside for orphans of the Genocide Against the Tutsi. The Village expects that at least ten of this year’s graduating class will receive full scholarships to study outside of the country.  In a display of ASYV’s push to advocate on behalf of women’s education, 16 of ASYV’s top 30 performers are female, showing a marked improvement from the national average. The Imbuto Grade had higher scores in math and science than in past years, with two graduates receiving straight A’s in these subjects. Moses believes this trajectory will continue upward as ASYV graduates more students. “We will adjust our teaching methods and apply these changes for the younger grades. As we continue to do this we can only expect to see greater and greater results from both our students and educators,” he tells me. 

For Innocent, his National Exam score will open many more opportunities for him. Wherever he goes he will always have a home at ASYV and we look forward to hearing of his next adventures. “For me, I don’t have anything valuable to leave with ASYV to show my gratitude. If there were some treasure that I had, I would give it to the Village to show them how thankful I am for everything they have done for me. They have taken someone from zero, I would even say someone from a negative number, and made him into someone who has potential.”

A short message from our Village Director, Jean Claude Nkulikiyimfura on his response to the National Exam Results: 

“We are very happy with these results and proud of our students. It is important to remember that these kids come from the most vulnerable backgrounds in the country. Their progress is simply amazing.”  

**New Times Article: A’ Level: Rural schools produce best performers http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15633&a=74536

Submitted by Sasha Friedman, 2014 Village Fellow