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Sunday, January 30

Bisate Update

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From Joseph Karama, Bisate Project Coordinator:

"I will start this update with some great tidings from Bisate school. The words below came from the Bisate School Headmaster to the Karisoke administration. Kudos to the EACEF team for all your support to the school!

'Hello!!!!!!!!!! ! Our success rate has been increased this year 2011!! 78.57% in Primary 6 and 94% in Senior 3 (Ordinary Level (Tronc Commun)). So the school’s overall rate of success is 86.2%. Thank you very much for your ongoing moral and material support!!!!!!!!'

The success being talked about came from the end of year national examinations for end of primary school (p.6) and end of ordinary level secondary (S.3) for 2010.

Regarding the renovations, I am attaching a photo from last week. The final touches will be completed next week according to the contractor, which will be a week in addition to the scheduled time but with a good excuse of the lack of supply of the right iron sheets in the country for quite a while. The delay has not caused any serious inconvenience to the schools schedules, the headmaster has assured us.

Thanks again for all your support.

Joseph

Joseph Karama

Conservati on Education Manager, Karisoke Research Center,

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

BP1 05, Musanze, North Province , Rwanda"

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Tuesday, October 26

Progress on Bisate Phase 2!

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Phase 2 of the Bisate Project, consisting of renovations to existing classrooms, is well underway.

Joseph Karama, Bisate Project Coordinator based in Ruhengeri, Rwanda recently sent these pictures of the new building reaching the halfway mark.

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Monday, September 13

Bisate Project Phase 1 Opens!

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Official Opening of Bisate Project Phase 1: (See below for pictures)

Although the new classrooms have been used since the start of the academic year in February 2010, they were officially opened on July 23rd 2010. The opening ceremony was attended by the President of EACEF, Andrew Sugrue, the Director of the Karisoke Reaserch Center, Katie Fawcett, the Acting Minister of Education and Director General for Science and Technology in the Ministry of Education, the Mayor of Musanze District, the Executive Secretary of Kinigi Sector where the school is located, and the Volcanoes National Park Chief Park Warden among others.

Speaking on the occasion the Director General in the Ministry of Education said that education should deliver essential knowledge for development which is why such partnerships between donors and communities are critical in the fight against illiteracy and poverty.

The Musanze District Mayor hailed the compassion shown by the EACEF youth towards their fellow youth facing difficulties in Rwanda. She said noble acts like that of EACEF will certainly bear fruits and said such good partnerships were only possible because of good leadership established by President Paul Kagame.

Andrew Sugrue, President of EACEF, said the new classrooms were not a gift but an investment in the community and as such called upon parents, teachers and the students to make the most of the opportunity. He also echoed the words of the Director General when he said EACEF would like to support the government’s vision of building an information-based economy and promised the school 20 laptops if they raise their performance from 53% in 2009 to 65% in 2010.

For the full text of the speech, please see below:

"Murakaza. Welcome to the opening of the first phase of the Bisate Project. It gives me great pleasure to be back here in Bisate with you today. I am here as a representative of EACEF, the East African Children's Education Fund, a completely student-run nonprofit organization based in the United States and operating in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

We started EACEF in 2007 after witnessing the incredible potential of students in East Africa who were hindered by a lack of educational resources. It is our belief that education has the power to liberate the mind, body, and soul from poverty, tribalism and despair. Through quality education, we can empower our children to be whoever they want to be, and the sky will truly be the limit to their future successes.

EACEF is here today in Rwanda thanks to a young man named Swinton Griffith. He travelled to Rwanda in 2009 with his family and visited Bisate. Inspired, he returned to Atlanta with the vision to help uplift the education standards here. And together with Katie, Joseph and the rest of the DFGFI staff, he designed this project and partnership.

When Swinton first proposed this $200,000+ initiative to us, we thought he was crazy. Then we heard about the block of classroooms washing away at the primary school and we were truly in a state of despair. Now how would we be able to complete this project! But God has a mysterious way of working, of challenging us all, and that next week, we received word that we were to receive a grant for $115,000 designated for Bisate.

We are all here today to celebrate the opening of the first phase thanks to the vision of Swinton, the hard work of DFGFI, the buy-in of the community of Bisate, but ultimately by the grace of God who has blessed this project and partnership.

Yet I hope that in our celebration, that we do not lose sight of the work still to be done. Our students face incredible challenges, and we must constantly push them to acheive.

This project is an investment and not a gift, and as such, we expect to see greater performance on the part of our students. It is our hope that through this partnership, we will push the students of Bisate to grow into strong, confident and ethical leaders who will shape the future of Rwanda. Let us always strive to that aim.

Thank you. Murakoze murakarama."

-Andrew Sugrue, President of EACEF 7/23/2010

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Monday, September 13

Bisate Project Field Report

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SUMMARY REPORT OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROJECT TO CONSTRUCT 6 CLASSROOMS FOR BISATE SCHOOL THANKS TO THE DFGFI-EACEF PARTNERSHIP

Background

Group Scolaire de Bisate is located in Bisate Sector, Musanze District, in the Northern Province, close to the Volcanoes National Park and to the Karisoke Research Center field patrol post. It started as a primary school in 1972 with less than 500 pupils, and now it has 2,178 pupils in the primary school and 301 in the secondary school section that was launched in 2008.

Since 2004, Karisoke Research Center, with the help of partners has been supporting the school in terms of school materials that include textbooks, exercise books, pens, mathematical kits (maths sets), language materials, sports equipment, and infrastructure like toilets and water tanks.

The school enjoys a privileged relationship with Karisoke Research Center not only because most of the center’s staff children go to the school, but also because it’s a key gateway for the center’s community conservation strategy. Community members are reminded, during such events as text books or toilet handover ceremonies to translate their gratitude for the support given to children’s education into active support for conservation of the gorillas and their habitat.

Since 2007, one of the key priorities for the school has been building new classrooms to house approximately 700 kids in primary one.

The building in the photo above, that contains six classrooms made of mud and trees, used to house the six streams of primary one. These classrooms were in such horrible shape (no cemented floors, cracks and soil falling off the walls) that part of the building eventually crumbled early in 2009 following a heavy down power. Fortunately the incident happened during the weekend so no kids were hurt. Unfortunately there are too many needs on the part of government such as starting new schools where they don’t exist, for it to consider funding the replacement of bad buildings. Fortunately however, a young man named Swinton Griffith was visiting the Fossey Fund in Rwanda with his parents early this year and he visited the school. Afterwards, he convinced members of his charity, the East African Children’s Education Fund (EACEF) to raise money to build six classrooms to replace the old ones.

In August 2009, work on the new classrooms begun after a memorandum of understanding had been signed between the Fossey Fund and EACEF. The construction of the classrooms took four months to complete.

EACEF also provided funding to equip the six new classrooms with 102 desks.

The official opening ceremony

Although the new classrooms have been used since the start of the academic year in February 2010, they were officially opened on July 23rd 2010. The opening ceremony was attended by the EACEF President, Andrew Sugrue, the Director General for Science and Technology in the Ministry of Education, the Mayor of Musanze District, the Executive Secretary of Kinigi Sector where the school is located, and the Volcanoes national Park Chief Park Warden among others.

Speaking on the occasion the Director General in the Ministry of Education said that education should deliver essential knowledge for development which is why such partnerships between donors and communities are critical in the fight against illiteracy and poverty.

The Musanze District Mayor hailed the compassion shown by the EACEF youth towards their fellow youth facing difficulties in Rwanda. She said noble acts like that of EACEF will certainly bear fruits and said such good partnerships were only possible because of good leadership established by President Paul Kagame.

The EACEF President said the new classrooms were not a gift but an investment in the community and as such called upon parents, teachers and the students to make the most of the opportunity. He also echoed the words of the Director General when he said EACEF would like to support the government’s vision of building an information-based economy and promised the school 20 laptops if they raise their performance from 53% in 2009 to 65% in 2010.

Project expenditure

The total project grant received from EACEF is $119,600. To date, $112,135 has been spent on construction, supervision, desks, and designing the technical study for renovating seven other classrooms. The balance $7,465 was used to pay the last construction fee installment upon permanent reception (that coincided with official opening), to pay the artist who painted the EACEF and the Fossey fund logos on the new building, and the remaining $4,622 that was originally designated for 2 water tanks on the new classrooms will instead be used to purchase laptops for the school (to be explained further below).

EACEF has agreed to partner with DFGFI to support Bisate School on a sustainable basis. EACEF is already raising more money to rehabilitate 7 other classrooms for Bisate School and to build a library that will be used by both the school and the community people to promote basic literacy.

Priority next steps  

  1. Classroom renovations

A technical study for the renovation work on the 7 classrooms has already been completed and the electronic copy of the report will be attached in a separate email. It gives details of the technical specifications for the work to be done and the costs involved. A public tender process will be completed by August 2010 to identify the builder to undertake renovations on the first 4 classrooms for which funds are available as discussed with EACEF.

In summary:

a.    & nbsp;  $ 54,282 required to renovate 7 classrooms according to the study

b.    & nbsp; $ 34,043 required to renovate the first four classrooms (phase one of renovations) that are in the worst shape. The other 3 classrooms will require $20,239 and are categorized as phase two of renovations to be started when EACEF has raised the funds.

c.    & nbsp;   $34,475 now available at EACEF to fund the phase one of renovations

$4,622 received from EACEF for water tanks still available in the Fossey Fund account. The water tanks on the new classrooms were eventually covered by the Rotary funded community water project in Bisate.  In a meeting between Andrew, Katie and Joseph, it was agreed that this money instead be used to purchase 20 laptops (that do not need electricity) for Bisate School. The cost estimate for renovations on the 7 classrooms also includes 2 water tanks that will be installed during the renovations.

Therefore, the $34,475 now available at EACEF will be used to renovate the 4 classrooms in the first phase of renovations and the $4,622 in the Fossey Fund will be used to purchase the laptops.

d.    & nbsp; A public tender process for the renovations of the four classrooms will be conducted in August and the construction work will start in September and last 3 months.

2.    ;    Laptops

Following a meeting Andrew and Joseph had with the teachers of Bisate School, a computer laboratory was identified as one of the priorities of the school to implement the national education curriculum that includes the teaching of information technology in both primary and secondary schools. Andrew, Katie and Joseph later had a meeting and agreed EACEF would fund 20 laptops (non-electricity reliant) for the school if the school improved their academic performance in the national examinations from last year’s 53% to 65% this year. Andrew is going to inquire about their purchase and if the school meets the condition, they should be ready for supply by February 2011.

DFGFI would like to thank EACEF for their commitment to support the education efforts in a school and community that is so significant for gorilla conservation.

 

Report prepared by:

Joseph Karama

Conservation Education Manager

Karisoke Research Center/DFGFI

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Sunday, January 24

Bisate Classrooms Completed

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Phase One of the Bisate Project Completed

On Thursday January 14th, the six classroom block phase of the Bisate Project located outside Ruhengeri, Rwanda was completed. At the dedication, the structure was named the “Umurage” Building, meaning “legacy” in the Kinyarwanda language of Rwanda. The building is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alecia Lilly, an acclaimed primatologist who ran the African opperations for DFGFI and who served as the impetus for the Bisate Project. Dr. Lilly worked tirelessly to bring the needs of humans and wildlife closer together and this building will serve as a testament to her legacy and impact on the Bisate community. The dedication of this classroom block represents the completion of the $115,000 Phase One of the Bisate Project and stands as a testament to the unique partnership between EACEF and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

For more information on the Bisate Project, click here.

Plans for Phase Two of the Bisate Project, which will consist of the construction of a library and the refurbishment of existing classrooms, are underway.

To donate to EACEF's efforts to bring educational opportunity to the Bisate community, click here.

Below is a report from Joseph Karama, Bisate Project Coordinator:

"The technical reception of the All-new six classrooms building for Bisate School whose construction begun in August and ended in November 2009 took place today January 14th 2010, in the presence of the representatives of the local administration, the school’s administration, Volcanoes National Park authorities, DFGFI, the Contractor, and the Supervising firm. This was a provisional reception that serves to take responsibility over the building from the contractors to the owner (the school) pending final reception within six months. The six months is a guarantee period in which any defects or damage resulting from poor construction is rectified at the expense of the contractor.

The participants at the technical reception inspected all the classrooms and were satisfied. This was in addition to a technical report that was submitted by another construction firm charged with supervising the works that said the building observed all contractual terms and specifications. The school’s Headmaster, the representative of the Sector Administration and the Director of the Karisoke Research Center (on behalf of DFGFI) then proceeded to sign a document attesting to the technical reception.

When the school year reopens on 1st February 2010, an official launch of the building will be organized at least within the first two weeks of the new term. We wanted to wait for the desks being made for use in the new building to be completed and to launch the building when the building is already being used by the pupils."

Below are some photos of the event:

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