Founded in 2008 with 45 students, Star School now instructs over 800 children in its nursery, primary, and secondary schools.  

The school grounds include dormitories, a library, computer room, farm, greenhouse, and science laboratory. There is also a “football” (soccer) field, volleyball court, and basketball court, as well as after-school music and dance clubs.

Since there is uneven access to public education and even where schools exist even the nominal fees associated with public education make it unattainable for the most impoverished children in Rwanda, families must pay for their child to receive an education. Although Star School accepts fee-paying students, about 200 children rely on sponsorship to attend the school, and over 300 children are currently awaiting sponsorship. Sponsored students come from at-risk backgrounds — orphans, former street boys, children of prostitutes and street beggars, missing parents, or jobless parents with an inability to pay school fees. These students live in Star School’s on-campus dormitories and receive meals, clothes, medical care, and education.

Star School is part of the umbrella organization, Rwanda Shines, a 501(c)(3) organization based in San Antonio, TX that provides funding and support for local leaders in their efforts to promote the well-being of the Rwandan people.

the rwandan school system

Nursery: This is a 3-year program that generally begins around 3 years old, whenever the child is able to walk to school by his/herself, or at what age parent were able to afford school fees. Nursery is further broken down to “Babies”, or Nursery 1, “middle class”, or Nursery 2, and “Top Nursery” or Nursery 3. 

Primary: After graduating from Nursery the students then enter Primary, which is much like our American Elementary. Primary is 6 years of school and is named much like Nursery- Primary 1, Primary 2, and so forth.

Secondary: After Primary the students enter their last 6 years of schooling: Secondary. Secondary is similar to high school, and is named — you guessed it — Secondary 1, Secondary 2, and on it goes. These years are critical to our students as their grades and study habits will determine the universities they will be able to attend and the careers they will pursue.

University: University is very similar to other universities around the world and time spent on their degrees will vary on which country they are pursuing them in and what specialties they will go into. It is common for students with the means to do so to travel out of country to obtain higher education. 

Different from the age-based American school system, Rwandan children advance purely on intellect. If they cannot pass their exams and exhibit ample understanding of the skills taught that year, they are not allowed to progress to the next year and must repeat the year. We see this concept in the American system, as everyone is required to start kindergarten by age 5 or 6. The difference, though, is when a 7 year old begins schooling for the first time in Rwanda, maybe due to the inability of his family to cover school fees, he must begin at Nursery 1 and work his way up.

Rwandan students learn math, English, French, Kinyarwanda, Rwandan history, world history, and science. Since many of our student’s parents are illiterate or very limited in their literacy, most have not been read books growing up. Over the past few years we have begun building a library that students can use and even rent books from so they can learn the importance and joy of reading!