“We will be with you all the way as first graduates, your success will inspire those who come after you, that is part of your responsibility” – President Paul Kagame addressing the first graduating class from ASYV 

This past January, Agahozo-Shalom graduated its first class of students.  It was a momentous day filled with amazing moments (read about it here), exceptional guests (including the President of Rwanda), and joy for everyone who attended. Guests were impressed with the beauty of the Village and with the quality of the graduates.  Although the day was filled with joy and celebration, graduates were filled with anxiety as they awaited their performance scores from the Rwandan National Exams, which they took in November.  

At the completion of secondary school, all students in Rwanda take exams which focus on their area of study in high school, or “combinations” as they are referred to in Rwanda. The Liquidnet Family High School at Agahozo-Shalom offers combinations that are recognized at the national level. These are various 3-subject groupings of Math, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, Economics, Computer Science, English, Kinyarwanda, French.  After an anxious few months, the exam results are in! The final scoring showed that of the 118 students who sat for the National Exam at the end of their final year at Agahozo-Shalom, 117 passed. This is a remarkable number given the comparison with other educational institutions in Rwanda. Few can boast such overarching success and this is a particularly significant achievement for the students of the Village given the backgrounds they come from, with little access to quality education a mere four years ago. In addition to the overall successful performance by our graduates, one ASYV student scored seventh in the country on the Geography exam.  A particularly exciting result of these graduates’ performance on the National Exam is that more than 60% scored high enough to earn a government scholarship, which means that these vulnerable youth of Rwanda have a strong possibility of attending University. For many, this is a dream come true - a dream that likely would not have been able to come to fruition had it not been for the education provided at the Liquidnet Family High School. Agahozo-Shalom managed to have seven students score 70 out of a possible 73, which is an exceptional score.  Of the 12 highest performance scores, the Village is particularly proud that 7 of them are young women

As a whole, the Liquidnet Family High School at Agahozo-Shalom was ranked in the top 40 high schools in the country, out of nearly 300. 

When considering the incredible achievement of this graduating class, it is important to acknowledge that these students were not selected to join the Agahozo-Shalom community because of their academic potential. In fact, there isn’t anything during the selection process that has to do with any of our students’ academic achievement. Agahozo-Shalom looks for kids who need help, who are in situations where they are vulnerable, orphaned and without access to basic needs in life.  Agahozo-Shalom welcomes the most vulnerable kids, provides them with a home, food, a family, and education.  The result is that balanced adults develop and graduate.  ASYV graduates are not only able to care for themselves and their families, but they are committed to making their community, their country, and their world a better place. The achievement of these students is an incredible example of the important work Agahozo-Shalom is doing in Rwanda.  ASYV makes a difference in the lives of its students and helps make it possible for them to have a bright future.  The staff, faculty, and fellow students could not be more proud of the first graduating class, and everyone is waiting with excited anticipation to see what they become in the future.  If the Agahozo-Shalom graduates are any indication of the future of Rwanda, then the future looks very bright.  

“I have no doubt the future will be what you want to make it. You have been given the tools to be lifelong learners; this education is yours to keep.” – Anne Heyman, ASYV Founder 

Submitted by 2013 long-term volunteer Shira Liff-Grieff, edited by NY Staff