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Education is key

Education is very important to our philosophy of empowerment. It is through his own education that Julius was able to found the BIEO and it is through education that he seeks to uplift the next generation of Batwa leaders. We work with private and community schools across all of Kisoro that cater to Batwa and Bakiga students. We assist the schools with uniforms and lunches for Batwa children, funding for books and materials, and in some cases funding to build classrooms and other school facilities. Below are three schools that we work closely with to help build a brighter future for the Batwa and Bakiga of Kisoro. 

Rushaga Community School


Located less than a stone’s throw from Bwindi, the Rushaga Community School has two categories of students: Bakiga students whose parents can afford to pay and orphans and Batwa students without access to any funds. Offering classes to children from ages 3 to 13, the school has 3 main wings of classrooms with 3-4 classrooms on each wing. The buildings are cement with tin roofs with an uncovered courtyard in the middle. The students, regardless of their ability to pay, are provided lunch every day and some even stay in dormitories on campus so that they can focus on school in ways that would be impossible in their home environments. 

As many of the students cannot afford to pay for their schooling, community organizations like the BIEO have stepped in to help finance the school. Specifically, we have provided them with a well/water system, built a kindergarten building, and assisted with buying food for the children’s lunches.


There is more work to be done. In conversations with the school’s headmaster, Godfrey Munezero, he counts the construction of a staff break room and covered dining hall for the children among the most pressing needs of the school. He also expresses the need for continued support of the students who are moving on from primary 7 (7th grade). Most cannot afford to continue to secondary or trade school and will end their education when they graduate the primary school. Sitting in the headmaster’s room that doubles as a library, Godfrey remarks “These students, they enjoy school. They want to continue with it. They even score well. They just lack the funds to go on in school”. The BIEO and other organizations are working to make their dreams possible.

Unlike many of the schools we work with, the Kanyamahene school receives government funding through a revenue sharing program with the UWA. However, this funding is not enough and only sufficient to build one of the 4 school buildings. Furthermore, the 4 teachers provided by the government are not enough to teach the 7 grade levels the school offers. This means that the community must also step in to provide for the school. Parents of students have donated their time to making crude buildings out of wooden poles, mud, and tin roofs. In their free time they made bricks to ultimately replace the makeshift structure. Gorilla Organization, a conservation group founded in the 1990s has built them a water system and contributed to the construction of two school buildings. With the combination of the three groups, the three buildings housing primary 1 through 7 have been solidly built with bricks, but the kindergarten classroom remains a stick and mud structure. 

According to their headmaster, Elijah Hakiza, the school still needs more assistance. They need to finish the kindergarten and build dormitories so that students can stay overnight at the school. Many face long journeys home and are forced to work in the fields when they get there, making them unable to complete their studies. The BIEO assists this school by providing food and uniforms for the Batwa students, but is looking for more ways to assist them.


Kanyamahene School


Nkuringo Kindergarten


Located within sight of the Congolese border, the Nkuringo school provides rudimentary reading and writing education for children of Congolese refugees and Batwa youth alike. More and more jobs are requiring basic literary schools, and even this basic education can help secure better futures for the children. The closest government school is hours away by motorcycle, so this kindergarten is the only option for those who cannot afford the private schools in the area. Classes are taught in two wooden schoolrooms to pupils aged 3-7 and 5-10. 

The director and co-founder of the school, Dan Biretwomugisha, has a vision for expanding the school. They work closely with the Batwa community in Nkringo, many of them refugees from the DRC themselves, who run guided cultural tours to help finance the school for their children. The hope is that with increased tourism and increased awareness of the school and its mission, more money will flow into the school and allow Dan to expand it into a full primary school. 

There are many ways that you can support this school and the others we work with. We would love for you to visit us in Rushaga and come see the schools for yourself. The funds you pay for tours and the tips you choose to leave will greatly benefit the future generations of Batwa you leave behind. You can also leave a donation via paypal and specify how you would like it to be used by the BIEO. 

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