What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
After 11 years of teaching at Rwandan universities, Raina Luff concluded that, because of the system of rote learning at all levels of ‘education’ throughout the country, students were unable to think for themselves but only repeat quoted notes copied from a blackboard, and then simply repeat them verbatim at examinations.
The defining moment was when Ms. Luff, when returning one day from university, was dismayed when her students could not understand why she was upset by the fact that no one could grasp the absurdity of comparing the size of any African country with that of France instead of Rwanda (it was so written in their book obviously edited in France). Moreover, there was a suggestion that there was no African civilization before the arrival of the White Fathers.
Somewhat later, two of Ms. Luff’s friends visited her and told her that they wanted to send their daughters to Kigali as there were no good primary schools in Muhanga. That is how, on that day of October 2005, it was decided to create a model school in the countryside where they live.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
The social innovator behind Ahazaza is Raina Luff, the founder of the school. born of a Bulgarian father and an Italian mother, and who became British by marriage. She has three children, two of them lawyers and a business controller, and 10 grand children. After living in various European countries she settled in Belgium. She is a lawyer with two university degrees obtained in Italy and in Belgium.
In 1995 Ms. Luff was sent by the United Nations to Rwanda, where she worked with the public prosecution department, training local judicial police, theoretically and practically in the field of making enquiries etc., and advising the public prosecutor.
Following a request by the Ministry of Justice, she also started teaching law at the National University of Rwanda. At the age of retirement she carried on living in Rwanda and teaching in different universities of the country until she realized that the best way to help the country would be to improve its principal richness – i.e. its human resources. The struggle against poverty and conflict is based on education, for knowledge is the only capital of those who have nothing.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
An email from Nik Kafka of ‘Teach a Man to Fish’.