Members of UNICEF UK and its corporate partner Barclays have visited education projects in Rwanda to witness the lasting impact of Step into the Night, Barclays annual fundraising night walk, which has raised £162,681.83 since 2009 to improve children's education in Rwanda.
Alongside UNICEF staff, Barclays' employees Nick Salisbury and Jennifer Ollerenshaw took time to visit two schools in the capital Kigali, where they witnessed how funds raised by the Manchester and London night walks have helped to provide some of the most disadvantaged Rwandan children with the chance of a quality education.
Although Rwanda has one of the highest primary school enrolment rates in Africa, the number of children, especially girls, who graduate to secondary school remains low. Many schools are desperately under resourced lacking basics such as teaching material, suffering from crowded classrooms and lacking basic sanitation which especially affects girl's opportunities to go to school. These factors all reduce their suitability as learning environments.
Initiatives such as UNICEF's Child Friendly Schools programme are building and improving schools across Rwanda, making them child friendly safe environments that foster learning and help to reduce the drop out and repetition rates.
"We are very thankful for what our friends have done for the children of Rwanda," said UNICEF Rwanda Representative, Dr Joseph Foumbi. "This is a great model for public-private partnerships and we hope that Barclays will come back again next year to see how far things have progressed."
Step into the Night, the sponsored walk for Barclays employees, friends, families and customers forms a key part of Barclays groundbreaking three year, £5 million partnership with UNICEF called Building Young Futures. Through this partnership, Barclays and UNICEF work together to help vulnerable young people in 13 countries to improve their lives through access to education, employment and opportunities for entrepreneurship. The partnership focuses on helping children and young adults acquire the skills and opportunities they need to realise their full potential.
"Not only does Building Brighter Futures represent UNICEF UK's single largest corporate partnership, it is also groundbreaking in the depth of the involvement of Barclays' global employees," said David Bull, UNICEF UK Chief Executive. "Through Step into the Night, many children in Rwanda now have a considerably brighter future."