|Executive Board members representing multiple UN agencies visited Rwanda, one of eight pilot countries worldwide implementing a unique style of UN reform.|
By Misbah Sheikh
MURAMA CHILD-FRIENDLY SCHOOL, Rwanda, 30 April 2010 – Members of the UNICEF Executive Board, along with colleagues from other United Nations agency Executive Boards, recently visited Rwanda to better understand how reforms in the UN system are working on the ground.
Rwanda is one of eight pilot countries implementing a unique style of UN reform, known as ‘Delivering as One,’ where all UN agencies work under one programme, with one budgetary framework, one leader – and one voice.
The programme is meant to bring together agencies under one umbrella while maintaining their individual visibility and unique contributions to Rwanda’s development outcomes.
During its 10-day visit in late March, the UN delegation members – including representatives of the Executive Board of UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Food Programme – visited several UN-supported projects in Rwanda. They also met with President Paul Kagame and Rwandan ministers, development partners, media representatives and members of the private sector and civil society.
The delegation toured a Rapid SMS (text message-based) project designed to accelerate maternal survival; a ‘One Stop Centre’ for survivors of gender-based or domestic violence; and the Rwanda National Police Gender Desk, which works to prevent gender-based violence and provides rapid-response aid to survivors.
The Executive Board members also spent time at a ‘child-friendly’ school supported by several UN agencies.
With about 94 per cent of all children of primary school age enrolled, Rwanda has one of the highest primary school enrolment rates in Africa. However, less than one in five students in the country will go on to secondary school.
UNICEF has supported the Rwandan Government’s efforts to create child-friendly schools that exhibit the core principles of quality education and keep children in school throughout adolescence. Children’s universal right to education means providing access to child-centred learning, trained teachers and access to adequate safe water and sanitation.
The delegation in Rwanda saw UN support in action at Murama Primary School, which is assisted by UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Agency. Murama is one of 115 schools across the country that are being helped by the UN to become child-friendly. Executive Board members discussed UN efforts to improve quality education in Rwanda, and highlighted the government’s efforts to increase the number of classrooms and teachers.
A healthy learning environment
With UN support, Murama now has larger classrooms, kitchen gardens, a drip irrigation system and separate latrines for girls and boys. Students have safe water and a daily meal, as well as playgrounds where they can learn team sports.
The school also boasts one of Rwanda’s few teacher resource centres and training room, which will enable it, as a model child-friendly school, to train teachers from surrounding villages in child-centred teaching methods.
Executive Board members left Rwanda impressed by the government’s commitment to sustainable development – and by the results achieved so far under a single UN umbrella for children.