Through the use of innovative institutional reforms, the Rwandan government has been able to achieve unprecedented progress since 1994. Today, the Rwandan government is internationally recognized for its achievements in gender equality, reconstruction and reconciliation, universal primary education, access to health care and a continuous commitment to culturally based initiatives that deliver results for every Rwandan and the use of technology to improve the lives of every Rwandan.
The Government of Rwanda, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, has made women’s empowerment and inclusion a hallmark of recovery and reconstruction. This approach has been globally hailed as novel in both intent and scope. In May 2003, Rwanda adopted one of the world’s most progressive constitutions in terms of its commitment to equal rights for all, gender equality and women’s representation. With 56% female representation in Parliament, Rwanda has far exceeded the 30% constitutional requirement and has now become the first country in the world with the highest female representation in decision making institutions.
Free basic education
The vision of the Government of Rwanda is to become a knowledge-based economy with an educated population that can contribute to the social and economic development of Rwanda. To achieve this goal, education has become 18% of public expenditure for the continuous committed improvement of the quality and access to education. In 1994, a three phase policy was elaborated to achieve these goals. The commitment of resources to rebuild the education system was followed by the Declaration and Implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE) which led to the implementation of nine year Basic Education in 2007. During his 2010 presidential campaign, President Paul Kagame announced a fourth phase- free twelve year basic education. Since 1994, Rwanda has achieved universal primary education and increased the number of higher learning institutions from 1 to 29 and yearly graduates are now up to 50,000 showing a stark contrast with the 2000 graduates in the 30 years preceding 1994. With these policies, Rwanda has become a country where education is the right of every child.
Quality health care for all
In 1994, the Rwandan government was faced with a health sector with a destroyed infrastructure and very few health professionals. Less than two decades later, the Rwandan health sector is globally recognized for its remarkable improvement in the quality and access to health services. The introduction of community based health insurance- Mutuelle de sante, transformed what was once a luxury into universal and affordable access to health. In addition to insuring access, the introduction of a performance based financing system has been put in place to ensure quality services. Health coverage has now exceeded 90%, over 80% of HIV/AIDS infected Rwandans are receiving treatment and mother and child mortality has dramatically decreased. Innovative practices such as the introduction of community health workers responsible for delivery of primary health care, the nationwide community nutrition surveillance program and the widely accessible family planning and reproductive health services have all contributed to the impressive reform of the health care system. With these achievements, Rwanda is now on track to achieving the MDG goals by 2015 as well as the ones outlined in Rwanda’s Vision 2020 goals.Today, what was once considered an insurmountable challenge has become one of the greatest examples of success stories in Africa
Homegrown solutions: One Cow Per Family (Girinka Munyarwanda)
Initiated by President Kagame, the programme is both a tribute to the Rwandan culture as well as an effective mean to increase the economic status of the less privileged. As many recipients of this program have expressed, this program allows for a multitude of advantages ranging from providing milk and associated products that allows for better nutrition, generation of income through milk sales and the provision of manure for farmlands. This project is conducted with the the full participation of the community through Ubudehe- a community program based on the tradition of mutual assistance. With the community’s knowledge of those most economically vulnerable, Ubudehe allows the community to choose the beneficiaries of the Gira Inka program. The “one-cow-per- poor family” policy initiated by President Kagame has impacted the lives of nearly 100,000 families. Today nearly 100,000 families have been given a cow.
Bridging the Technology Gap: One Laptop Per Child
Vision 2020 repeatedly emphasizes the need to use ICT to transform Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy. In 2007, Rwanda took a step toward its long-term goal when it became the first country in the East African Community and the third on the African Continent to join “One Laptop Per Child” program. This international initiative aims to introduce computers to the youth of developing countries in an effort to bridge the global digital divide. The first school in Africa to actually receive computers from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme was Kagugu Primary School in Kigali, where 3,105 laptops were distributed in 2009.
OLPC simultaneously launched a Learning Centre at the Kigali Institute for Science and Technology to support professional training for the educators who would use the laptops in the classroom. At the end of 2010, 32,000 laptops had been distributed in primary schools across the country with a commitment to reach every school by 2012.