Akilah Institute for Women has closed its Campus in Burundi. A few of their students had the opportunity to continue their studies on the Akilah Campus in Rwanda. Carmen NIBIGIRA, member of the Akilah Burundi Board of Directors and main advocate for the Burundi Campus gives more details regarding the situation and future of the institute and its students.
Akeza.net: Why does Akillah students have to relocate to Rwanda?
Carmen NIBIGIRA: Akilah closed its campus in Bujumbura, Burundi in April 2015 due to increasing violence and security threats to staff and students.
In October 2015, 44 Burundian students from Akilah’s Bujumbura campus opted to transfer to the Akilah Rwanda campus in Kigali and finish their Akilah education. The other 106 students were either not able to travel to Kigali, or not eligible for transfer, given the requirements of the Rwandan Ministry of Education on higher education institutions (namely that secondary school graduates must have passed their National Exams).
Akeza.net: How does it work? Is everybody included? Do the students have any assistance in the process?
Carmen NIBIGIRA: The 44 students that were eligible and chose to transfer to Akilah’s Kigali campus receive a monthly stipend until they graduate to help offset the higher costs of living associated with Kigali.
These young women started in Kigali with a Campus Orientation on October 28-30, where they met their new student peers and instructors.
They began bootcamp and refresher courses on November 2 and will finish on December 16; when they return from holidays, they will begin Diploma level courses that were suspended in Bujumbura last April in January 2016 alongside their fellow Rwandan friends.
Akeza.net: How do you feel about this?
Carmen NIBIGIRA: I am happy that we were able to find a way to continue the education of 30% of the young women enrolled in Akilah Burundi – this is largely due to the generosity of Akilah’s global network of supporters.
All Burundian young women are welcome to apply to Akilah for future Admissions rounds. The next opportunity to apply is spring 2016 for a September 2016 enrollment.
Akeza.net: Is there any hope that the school get to reopen in Burundi?
Carmen NIBIGIRA: Absolutely. It depends on the security situation in Burundi. These factors are out of Akilah’s control. We welcome Burundian young women with open arms on the Kigali campus, as long as the situation in Burundi remains unstable and the Akilah Bujumbura campus is closed.
Akeza.net: What is your position with Akillah Institute for Women in Burundi?
Carmen NIBIGIRA: I am a member of the Board of Directors. I am the main advocate for the Burundi Campus, and led its opening in 2014. I am now ensuring the Akilah opportunity remains accessible to Burundian young women, even if that means they attend in Kigali, Rwanda.
Akeza.net: you’ve recently met the students in Kigali, how was it?
Carmen NIBIGIRA: I saw hope, resilience and courage in the eyes of our students. This gives me hope that investment in education is the way forward for peace, socio-economic development in Burundi, East Africa and beyond. When I visited the students, I was lifted up.
Interview by Landry MUGISHA