St. Laurent Nursery School Rwanda
The St. Laurent Nursery School began as the vision of Marceline Nirere, a Rwandan mother of four. Realizing the importance of education and the benefits of starting early, Marceline began offering free nursery school to the children in her village in 2003. Focusing on letters and numbers in all three of Rwanda’s national languages, Kinyarwanda, French, and English, Marceline was able to offer the local children an incredible opportunity. Every morning from 8:00am until 12:00pm, more than 80 children under the age of five gathered on Marceline’s front porch, an area no bigger than two square metres. After practicing the alphabet and numbers, the students participated in singing and dancing, allowing them to develop both their social skills along with their academic skills.
PHASE 1 - Nirere Marceline and her Passion
When Amanda Furst was introduced to Marceline, she amazed by what she saw. As a trained teacher herself, Amanda was in awe of Marceline’s abilities to instruct over 80 little students in such a small space, with limited resources available. Amanda and Marceline decided to collaborate to bring to life Marceline’s vision of being able to provide the students with a real classroom experience. With funds raised by Westwood Collegiate students in Winnipeg, Canada, Marceline and Amanda were able to begin construction of two classrooms for the nursery school. Sourcing all the materials locally and hiring community members for the construction, Marceline and GO! were able to build two classrooms and equip them with benches, chalkboards and beautiful educational murals. Furthermore, toilets were built and a field was cleared for singing and dancing.
PHASE 2 - The St Laurent Nursery School Grows
The official building opened its doors in February 2009. Since its humble beginnings, the nursery school has grown to include a second teacher and enrolment has reaches as high as 150 students. Phase 2 of the project began in 2013 with funds raised by seven students from university Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Global Partnership (EGP). The university students came to Rwanda to partner with local community members to build and equip a library, create beautiful play structures, install a rain water catchment system, upgrade the toilets, prepare a garden, and provide school supplies and uniforms for the students. The nursery school is now complete and the community has taken ownership of the school. Many parents have agreed to pay small student fees to support the second teacher as well as the minimal costs required to maintain the school. Marceline continues to devote her time and her energies to the school in hopes of giving all the children in her community a head start on their education and on their life!