Rwanda: Apprenticeship programme has become a lifeline for vulnerable youth


By Régis Umurengezi


The apprentices are currently undertaking a year-long training in food processing, fashion, as well as beauty, which involves hairdressing, manicure and pedicure.

Beatrice Uwimana’s dreams were all but shattered after dropping out of school while in senior one after she was defiled and impregnated at the age of 17.

Her family and the man responsible for her pregnancy abandoned her as she grappled with early pregnancy.

However, Uwimana—now 19 years old—recently found something that has put a smile back on her face.

The resident of Gataraga Sector, Musanze District has been selected as one of this year’s 146 apprentices of Workplace Learning Support Programme, best known as ‘Igira ku Murimo’.

Through the programme, Uwimana has been enrolled back in school to undertake a year-long training course in food processing at Busogo Technical School (ESTB).

The programme was initiated by the Government in 2015. The five-year pilot phase (2017-2021) is currently being implemented jointly by the Ministry of Public Service and Labour and the Private Sector Federation (PSF).

The apprentices are from 13 districts and are currently undertaking a year-long training in three occupations; food processing (bakery, fruits and milk processing), fashion (tailoring and leather work) as well as beauty, which involves hairdressing, manicure and pedicure.

The acting director general for labour and employment at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, Faustin Mwambari, said the programme will empower the youth with the necessary skills to deal with the challenges they face.

“This is a governmental policy that seeks to bridge the knowledge gap from schools with the skills required at the workplace, we look forward to sensitising employers to give a chance to the youth to utilise knowledge from school at their respective workplaces,” said Mwambari.

The programme, which blends theory with practical skills, targets youth with special problems notably the ones from households under the first and second category of social stratification (Ubudehe), teen mothers and youth living with different forms of disabilities.

While visiting the students, who are currently interning at Mukamira milk processing plant in Nyabihu District, Mwambari said that the Workplace Learning Support Programme will bridge the skills gap, which is critically needed to drive Rwanda’s development ambitions.

“It is in the interest of government to empower people with the knowledge and skills required by the labour market,” he added.

High expectations

The beneficiaries have expressed optimism in their future, with some of them keen to start their own businesses.

“My plan is to set up a bakery. With the kind of knowledge we are getting from class and workplace, we are set to create our own jobs,” Uwimana said.

Jean de la Paix Shyirambere, an albino interning at beverage making firm, Umuhuza’s Enterprise, echoed Uwimana sentiment stressing that; “Due to the practical knowledge I acquired, I will never write a job application letter. I have to be my own boss and create jobs for others,”

An apprentice from Workplace Learning Support Programme receives a monthly stipend of Rwf22, 000 and will graduate with certificates upon completion of the one-year training programme.

According to officials, the Government is also weighing various support options for the students, including giving them capital to start their own businesses.

Over the next four years, 375 youths including of 153 girls and 45 youths living with disabilities, will be trained.

Source The New Times

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