Kepler Implements “Safewalkers” Programme for Students Walking To and From Classes
Kepler understands that its programme in Rwanda must take into consideration the legal, psycho-social, and security protection of students. As a result, the programme provides physical security for its candidates so that they may study in a safe environment.
In order to protect the equipment at the learning centers and decrease the risk for targeting of students, learners are not permitted to the take laptops and other equipment home. The facility is also protected by twenty-four (24) hour security guards, who help ensure student safety.
Within a few months of operation, however, Kepler realised that it needed to make efforts to protect its students both during and after school hours. It became evident that students were potential targets on their walks home from class because they had access to more resources than many residents of the camps. In order to solve this issue, Kepler consulted a gender studies specialist who assisted in coordinating the response.
The result of this collaboration was the introduction of the “Safewalkers” programme, which focuses on student safety after school hours. The paid “Safewalkers” arrive at the classrooms during the evening hours (6:00 pm – 10:00 pm) and walk the students back to their homes. Students and walkers are also given flashlights to carry during their walks to and from class.
An obstacle that Kepler has faced with the “Safewalkers” programme is gender dispersion. Ideally, students would be paired with a “Safewalker” of each gender, but this is not the case. The “Safewalkers” are volunteers from the parent association, and the women were not comfortable with volunteering to be “Safewalkers”. There was fear that the mothers could also be targets for attacks, and in this instance, Kepler realised that it should not push to cross that cultural boundary. In this sphere, cultural boundaries and perceptions often need to be adhered to and respected.
Story provided by: SNHU/Kepler ©2017