Gashora, 4 October 2013
Honorable Ministers and other Senior Government Officials here present;
Suzanne Sinegal McGill and Shalisan Foster, Founders of Gashora Girls Academy for Science and Technology;
Mr Peter Thorp, Principal of this Academy;
Friends who have travelled all the way from the United States;
Faculty, staff and girls of the Academy;
First of all, I am very pleased to be here with you all, and what could be more gratifying than being part of the first commencement ceremony of Gashora Girls Academy for Science and Technology.
And so, congratulations to you the graduating students on this big achievement, to your teachers and ancillary staff that have been there for you in the last three years. Congratulations also go to your parents who have invested in your education and will no doubt continue to steer you as you embark on the next stage in your lives.
Of course, we cannot fail to acknowledge with gratitude the founders of this school: Susan Sinegal McGill and Shalisan Foster. I am sure we share the joy and pride of today as we begin to reap the benefits of your important contribution to girls’ education in Rwanda.
To you girls, I can only say that we all marvel in your success. We are keenly aware that you have spent many hours of demanding and sometimes gruelling work at this school. You can now feel proud that all that has paid off. As we all know, behind every graduate stands a very proud family – even for orphans mentioned earlier, we are your family. Today, it is not only family and friends who celebrate with you; it is the whole country that is rightly proud of your success.
But you must understand that this is only the start of many more achievements to follow if you are to get the requisite strong academic backing you need to succeed in life.
Here at the Gashora Girls Academy for Science and Technology, you have acquired the foundations of knowledge and been equipped with the tools to identify your priorities in life and the determination to reach your goals. The Rwandan people look forward to your contribution to the development of our country in the not too distant future.
Ladies and gentlemen;
Science and technology provide important skills to transform our country and the Government of Rwanda has placed a premium and emphasis on the development of those skills. But as we all know, traditionally, these are areas that girls have been excluded from.
There was this myth that the domain of science and technology was created for the rustic strength of a male brain. In the last 20 years, we have done everything we could to expose this myth and to change the mindset of Rwandan society. Our guiding principle has been that never again should a Rwandan get less than they deserve or be regarded as a second-class citizen in their country.
Right from the start, we believed that when all facets of our society are equally empowered, we all stand to gain. In the final analysis, the gain is Rwandan because that is how we will be able to stand on our own feet and be responsible for our own destiny.
This is the reason we are happy to see the first cohort of girls that have gone through these gates graduating with honours.
As girls and as citizens of Rwanda, your prospects could not be brighter, for only the sky is the limit. Your accomplishments thus far give us confidence, and to you, good reason to believe that many more accomplishments lie ahead.
The founders of this school always wanted you and other Rwandan girls to fulfil your dreams and to have a productive life. We will spare no effort to ensure that you have that.
We want you to work even harder, remain focused on your goal and believe in yourselves. Every path you take should be taken with confidence that you can make a difference for yourselves, your families and for your country. The Rwandan people will stand behind you and provide all the support they can galvanise to help you navigate through the challenges you may face ahead.
Let me also say that as the pioneer class, you will always have a special place in the history of the school. For those who will follow, you are not only role models, you are champions and you must therefore act like champions do and ensure that you are an inspiration those people. Above all, you must internalise what we mean when we say “Agaciro”. Whatever you do, wherever you will be, you must embody the dignity of Rwandans.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to pay special tribute to Mr Peter Thorp, Principal of this school, who has been instrumental in what the school has become and achieved. I also wish to thank all the teaching and administrative staff who have worked like all winning teams do, and have ensured that this school attains international standards.
We are fortunate, therefore, to have friends who understand our needs and are happy to sacrifice their time, energy, and their creative talent to assist us in achieving these standards.
They have also understood our ambition and our resolute decision to give equal opportunities to all Rwandans and our effort to place the Rwandan woman on the same pedestal as her male counterpart.
This is the Rwanda we want to build and, you girls, must have a role to play in it. This is the time to start. Congratulations once again and my best wishes to you for a fruitful future.
And thank you for your kind attention.