17 Dec 2022

Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF) Network Plus is a research network funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund ( UK-GCRF) to generate new knowledge that can assist education policy makers, institutions, non-governmental and community-based organizations, and businesses in countries of research focus to implement education policies and practices that can contribute to equitable end environmentally sustainable development. Areas of focus are skills and agency of young people and adults for Sustainable livelihoods, sustainable cities and communities, and climate action.

In Rwanda, TEST Network Plus is implemented by the University of Rwanda in collaboration with the University of Bristol and other research institutions from Somalia, South Africa and India. As the Network promotes and supports research projects intended to achieve the above objectives, fourteen projects which were selected and supported are being implemented across the country. Their findings have been presented and discussed in the recently concluded TESF- Rwanda Hub Workshop held at the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (KCEV) from 7-8 December 2022

Through the research process, researchers sought to answer three (3) important questions :
- How can education and training support sustainable cities and communities ?
- How can education contribute to climate action ?
- How can education and training empower communities to achieve sustainable
livelihoods ?

Amongst the projects tackling the issue of sustainable livelihoods, the one entitled “Using arts-based approaches to dialogue issues of sustainable development ’’ has reached out to important findings. The project seeks to empower young people (secondary school learners), teen mothers and artists to explore obstacles to poverty reduction and girls’ access to education, and bring these issues to the attention of policymakers using arts-based approaches.

it was implemented from the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP). The project team members include Associate Professor Sylvestre Nzabahabwanayo
( UR-CE), as the Principal Investigator, and Dr Eric Ns. Ndushabandi ; Dr. Chaste Uwihoreye ; and Dr Delphine Mukingambeho as co-Investigators.

The project worked in five schools : Rwamagana Leaders’ School (Rwamagana in Eastern Province) ; EFOTEC Kanombe (Kicukiro in Kigali City) ; GS EAR Byumba (Gicumbi in Northern Province) ; GS Amahoro (Rubavu in Western Province) ; and Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare - GSO Butare (Huye in Northern Province).

” The project deconstructs current discourses on SDGs which are predominantly adult-dominated. Also, the project takes cognizance that young people are given little to no room to voice their perspectives on SDGs, ‘’ said Nzahabwanayo.

According to him the project has empowered young people to discuss obstacles to poverty reduction and girls’ access to education using music, dance, drama, theatre, paintings, drawings, poems, and film making. “ A digital art gallery of songs paintings, drawings, theatre performances and a movie on the above mentioned themes has been produced, and five local and one national policy informing events are to be organized in January 2023,” he added.

He explained how they dealt with the respondents noting that they created 5 clubs (1 club per district) each club bringing together 10 secondary school learners, 5 teen mothers, 5 teachers, and 2 artists. In total we worked with 85 participants.

When asked about their ptoject findings, Nzahabwanayo elucidated" in our research we have found out :
- recurrent obstacles to poverty reduction : unemployment, poor service delivery, ignorance of public policies, unequal distribution of opportunities, family conflicts, early and unplanned pregnancies, corruption, drunkenness, laziness, mismanagement of family income.

- recurrent obstacles to girls’ access to education : family conflicts, early pregnancies, peer pressure, poverty, lack of parental supervision or mentorship, alcoholism of parents, gender stereotypes (a belief that boys are better suited for schooling and girls fare better with household work), smart phones, poverty, high living cost, sugar daddies, child domestic labour, cross-border trading, and gender-based violence.

The TESF Rwanda Hub Workshop brought together researchers from the University of Rwanda, Non- governmental organizations as well as private researchers involved in the concerned fourteen (14) projects. Different project team members had the opportunity to share their experiences, findings, challenges, and reflections from different project teams ; to enable project teams reflect on their projects based on the observations and recommendations from colleagues and different experts, and to support project teams in the process of developing their ideas into final reports.

Story by


Public Relations and Community Engagement Officer
University of Rwanda-College of Education


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