Ahazaza Independent School

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Ahazaza Independent School

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

To promote first class nursery, primary and eventually secondary education to a previously tribally divided, war-torn area and to recruit children from every background, living in the countryside (rather than those in townships) particularly the poorest and the orphaned, in order to provide them with the opportunity for top quality education.

About You
Project Street Address

City-center Gitarama (Muhanga)

Project City

Gitarama (Muhanga)

Project Province/State


Project Postal/Zip Code

non available

Project Country
Your idea
Country your work focuses on:


What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1-5 years

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?


Describe your idea in fewer than 50 words.

To promote first class nursery, primary and eventually secondary education to a previously tribally divided, war-torn area and to recruit children from every background, living in the countryside (rather than those in townships) particularly the poorest and the orphaned, in order to provide them with the opportunity for top quality education.

What makes your idea unique?

Teaching is in total immersion in English and French across the curriculum from kindergarten upwards. The Kinyarwanda language is taught as a subject in the primary years. Classes follow a child-centred approach with the extra-curricula drama, music and art based on the Rwandan culture. A small farm attached to the school allows children to pass on the knowledge acquired to better their parents’ agricultural techniques and so improve the standard of living to an impoverished community. The teacher/pupil ratio is 25/1, whilst the norm is 50-80/1, with teaching mostly by rote.

What is your area of work? (Please check as many as apply.)

Children & Youth , Child care , Early childhood development , Education , Cultural preservation .

What impact have you had?

Children are rapidly becoming fluent in three languages and accept our more modern method of education. Ministry officials and other officials in the capital Kigali are now eager for the founder to open a model school there and, in the future, in other parts of the country. Already it is recognised locally that our pupils are more advanced than the others of the town and the School receives frequent requests from local teachers and schools for visits.

Describe the primary problem(s) that your project is addressing.

Ahazaza, being a totally independent lay institution is finding local financing difficult and is therefore not yet self-sufficient but still mainly reliant on charitable donations raised from its Belgium association of friends (les Amis de Ahazaza) and grants from other people. For that reason the required premises have not been completed. Moreover, running costs are relatively high and quality staff difficult to find.

Describe the steps that your organization is taking to make your project successful.

Three of the teachers have been sent to Belgium for training in a Belgian school (De Croly), whilst others had training at Kigali's Institute of Technology (KIST) and at Kigali's Belgian School. Voluntary pedagogical experts have been recruited, bringing with them advice from abroad. The building of a multipurpose hall has begun: it will be used for school activities as well as functioning as a source of income from renting out the hall for public performances –cinema, theatre, marriages, etc.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Success in Year 1:

Year 1
Our teachers will benefit from the opportunity to improve their teaching methods under guidance of experienced trainers, as well as from the addition of modern teaching materials. We require an experienced director to eventually take over from the present director and founder. The projected buildings need to be completed and fully equipped.

Success in Year 2:

Year 2
Teacher training needs to continue and two additional teachers recruited for P5 who would assist in the training of the existing teachers and pupils in computer skills. P4 and P5 require a library in the corner of each class, and there is a demand for a school central library as well. The Building of P6 is planned to be completed and furnished by the year’s end. Work on the gymnasium should be under way and activities devised for the multipurpose hall.

Success in Year 3:

Year 3
Further staff needs to be engaged to develop the cross-curricular activities for the multipurpose hall and to implement an ICT program. Building work for P7 to be completed and furbished and more teachers recruited. The gymnasium is due for completion and furbishing; this demands a fully integrated PE curriculum to be designed, and prospect ion for its activities put into practice.

Do you have a business plan or strategic plan? (yes/no)

Yes, a strategic plan has been prepared by an expert from “Ex-Change” (a non profit organisation that provides voluntary experts), who stayed at Muhanga for a few weeks. It covers the years 2009 to 2013. A copy of it will be attached to this form.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 1:

STEP 1 [2009] - The training of teachers by experienced volunteers; the acquisition of teaching materials, lap-tops and books for teachers and pupils; the building of a play ground; the building of Primary 4 and 5 (currently P4 occupies the kindergarten teacher’s room due to lack of space); the building of a multipurpose hall, completely furbished; the purchase of a photocopier and projector; the installation of added solar panels.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 2:

STEP2 [2010] - Building of one classroom (P6 to be added to the existing classes) with its furniture; building of a gymnasium; the purchase of extra solar panels; an increase in books and teaching materials as well as computers; the hiring of two teachers for P5 and ICT training; further teacher training; employment of a replacement accountant, assistance from an expert in management and marketing.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 3:

STEP 3 [2011] - Building of P7; equipment for the gymnasium; the development of cultural and sporting activities; extra furbishing of the hall to provide self-financing (e.g. cinema, theatre, meetings, conferences, marriages); additional support from a marketing and finance expert, as well as other volunteers.

Describe the expected results of these actions.

Teachers to be trained and to perform to a requisite standard. The necessary premises will have been built to respect the best technical criteria. The appropriate books and teaching material to be in each classroom. All children to be educated according to the project’s philosophy and high expectation from an early age to secondary school level.

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’.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

It would be extremely difficult to implement this project if we had insufficient funds to build premises and acquire the necessary furniture. A shortage of trained staff equipped effectively to attract a new, well qualified future director. Only attractive salaries can encourage staff away from the capital Kigali.

Financing source


If yes, provide organization name.


How long has this organization been operating? (i.e. less than a year; 1-5 years; more than 5 years)

1-5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes, provided for in our statutes with a board of directors, two financial controllers and independent auditing of accounts. There is also a vibrant parent/teachers association.

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs? (yes/no)


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses? (yes/no)


The Story
Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government? (yes/no)


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

The partnership with KIST (Kigaly Institute of Technology) helps provide early training in computer skills. The Belgian School of Kigali and the Decroly School in Brussels provide the necessary teacher training.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the total number of employees and total number of volunteers at your organization?

Employees: 15
Volonteers: 0.5/year

What is your organization's business classification?

Non-profit/NGO/citizen sector organization

Have you received funding from any of the following groups? (Please check as many as apply.)

None of the above.