A master’s in English linguistics and a 15-year teaching career, coupled with several years administering after-school programs and a background in personnel management, have prepared Robin Strickler well for her most recent mission.
Strickler has answered the call of the Rwandan government to bring secondary education to the country, an honor that will allow her to help generations of young people discover their light.
Called The Rwanda School Project, Strickler will serve as the project’s leader and will work to establish a high school in a rural area east of the capital city of Kigali. She recently joined her husband The Rev. John Rutsindintwarane, general secretary of the nine-year-old Lutheran Church of Rwanda, to facilitate the project.
“I am excited by the opportunity to make real change take place where real gains can be seen,” said Strickler, who has spent the last year in training and in researching the Expeditionary Learning Schools (ELS) curriculum she plans to follow.
“ELS combines rigorous academic content and real-world projects including cross-disciplinary expeditions, which require problem-solving, individual and group work, rigorous evaluation, an emphasis on physical health and habits, as well as academic skills and community service.”
Strickler explained that Rwanda, about the size of Maryland, is the most densely populated country in the world with nine million people living there. She added that currently only 15 percent of Rwandans attend high school, and 90 percent are subsistence farmers.
“The people must get off the land,” she said. “Education made a huge difference in my husband’s life. He was one of three from his elementary school in a refugee camp to be able to attend secondary school, thanks to the Lutheran Church of Tanzania and a scholarship he received from a Lutheran connection in the United States.
“There really has to be a lot of dialogue with local leaders before we can start,” Strickler said. “During the time it takes to secure government licensing, we will hold English as a Second Language classes three times a week beginning in January 2007.”