Kerio Valley: A beautiful land with an amazing culture

By mugonya John 


Mr. Mugonya

In September this year, I received communication from the International Crop Research Institute for Semi_Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) that my application for an internship placement had been successful. Getting an internship opportunity soon after defending my Master’s thesis at Gulu University, was exciting and double blessing. I looked forward to working with a multi-disciplinary team from various countries. I was selected to work in the Markets Institutions Nutrition and Diversity program, particularly on analysis of livestock market systems among pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the Kerio Valley of Kenya. The internship was supported by the MasterCard Foundation (MCF) through the Regional Universities’ Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).

I reported for the intership at the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi which hosts the Eastern and Southern regional office of ICRISAT. The center is home for nineteen international organizations many of which are under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Consortium. I was warmly welcomed and given adequate support beyond my expectations.

I started the preparation for the Kerio Valley study with a voracious review of literature related to livestock market systems’ function and structure. Given the time and financial resources availed, qualitative research methods were preferred over quantitative. I was not acquainted to qualitative research methods, therefore I was supported by my line supervisor and other team members. I was also supported by two experts in qualitative studies notably Caroline Hambloch and Emma Elfversson particularly in designing the study methodology. I have gained a lot of knowledge, skills and insights in qualitative research especially in methodology development, data collection and transcription.

During data collection, I was pleased to see a beautiful part of Kenya, the Kerio Valley. The valley is geographically shaped like a triangle and it touches three different counties which include; Elgeyo-Marakwet, West Pokot and Beringo.  The valley is home to majorly two tribes; the Marakwets and the Pokots. The Pokots are pastoralists while the Marakwets are agro-pastoralists. In Kerio Valley, livestock is very important for people’ livelihoods and as a means of transport given the terrain of the land. A striking attribute about these people is the social capital amongst them. For example, I witnessed the community contributing towards education of three children two in high school and one at the university who belonged to a teacher within the community. This internship is a great experience both in terms of developing my research skills and in appreciating various cultural practices.

I will forever be thankful to RUFORUM, the MasterCard Foundation and ICRISAT the opportunity they have accorded me to learn and grow through valuable and spectacular experiences.

Contact: Phone: +256 771890353, Email:, Twitter: @mugonyaj

Figure 1: A truck loading mangoes in Sangach center, Elgeyo Marakwet County


Figure 2: Donkeys carrying luggage across a stream near the cattle trade area in Lomut, West Pokot County

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Figure 3: Goats moving to the grazing area along Tot-Kolowa road


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Figure 4: Female traders selling milk in Chesegeon livestock market in West Pokot County

Top 10 of 2020 for me

 To me, 2020 was ‘Living in the Unknown’. Reflecting back below are my top 10 for the year:

  1. Global inter-connectedness: the COVID-19 Pandemic has shown that we need each other- what happens in one part of the world has repercussions beyond the immediate borders. It also showed vividly the need for good governance and preparedness: those with sound systems and capacity quickly re-engineered themselves and put in place containment measures even though not 100% effective. Wageningen University and Research in Netherlands and University of Free State in South Africa for example quickly put in responsive measures to reposition their universities respond to educational challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Others were not in position to do so or only responded very slowly

2. Environment health is key: It appeared to me as ‘God must be crazy’. We witnessed several catastrophes- wild fires in Australia and USA, floods and waves across the world, widespread pandemics of desert locusts that devastated the Middle East, Horn of Africa and the Sahel, increased levels of green gases, amongst others. Again, we need each other, we need to develop collective responses to address these challenges

3. Africa low STI capacity: Some of the challenges highlighted in 1 &2 above brought to the fore the limited response capacity in the continent. We just need to be reminded that no country in the world has developed without the requisite STI capacity- Africa must put its mouth where the food is- in its people: build and strengthen the innovation capacity and skills development in the continent.

4. Racial inequality coupled with human brutality: What we witnessed in the USA, but also common in our ethnic tendencies including wars in Africa calls for greater attention to address this inhuman practice. It is so sad that we as humans are so brutal and self-conceited- we don’t care about others

5. Education divide: Here again COVID 19 exposed more vividly the education divide for those with resources and the disadvantaged communities even in advanced economies like the USA. Here in Africa it worsened the divide between urban and rural schools- schools in urban areas quickly embraced online teaching and learning; those in rural areas have been basically ‘locked out’ of education. Yet education is the foundation of development. This to me is one of the biggest challenges Africa faces today. Governments need to act now.

6. Embracing digital technology. The digital era is here, and it is those countries and individual who embrace it who will be fit for purpose. It is needed in all sectors, and for young and old. At least COVID_19 has helped push us towards digital technologies. Africa must hasten efforts to integrate digital practices. Fortunately the young generation in Africa are coping up very well

7. Your neighbour will not fill your granary. In 2014 Gracias Machel reminded us about that Mozambique saying. Little did I know I would live to see it!. It is great to hear/know that there are vaccines against COVID 19 and countries are vaccinating their people. We are still waiting for our turn in Africa! Severally Africa has waited for others to come and solve its problems even for those we can and should handle! No, No!. We have to struggle and help ourselves just as we struggle to feed our families. We must build capacity in the continent for today and for tomorrow

8. We are stronger together although some inefficiencies occur. The UK Government was able to quickly approve the COVID 19 Vaccine, and EU only two weeks later. But even then we are stronger together. We need each other to travel far or achieve economies of scale. Many issues cut across boundaries, requiring that we collaborate. We can now harness digital technology to work across the globe, and hopefully we help create better global understanding. For higher education in Africa, we need to strengthen collaboration and partnership to build response capacity for the continent.

9. Who should be telling who about democracy?. The fiasco with USA elections have lessons for all of us. Unfortunately, it has provided ammunition for unchecked tyranny and widespread violation of basic human rights in Africa and probably elsewhere

10. China is the new Global power, but what will this mean for Africa?

But then, the other sad part is that I did not realise that I am very illiterate: I have failed to understand development statistics: America is the leading and richest economy?. But then I see people lining for food? This is very confusing for me.

I just hope 2021 will be a better year for all of us

Adipala Ekwamu

30 December 2020

Promoting Excellence In Performance: RUFORUM Secretariat Recognizes Two Staff For Outstanding Performance

Kampala 14th December 2020 Every year as part of promoting excellence in staff performance against their assigned tasks and achievement of RUFORUM organisation mission, the RUFORUM Secretariat recognizes outstanding staff for their exemplary performance. For this year (2020) RUFORUM Secretariat recognized two outstanding Staff to encourage them to maintain their level of performance as well as motivate all Staff. Recognition Awards popularize an atmosphere of positive, effective competition, and building and consolidating the principles and values of excellence in all units of the organization.

Dr. Anthony Egeru has been working at RUFORUM Secretariat since 2015. He is passionate about training young entrepreneurs, leaders and high-quality researchers who can contribute to the transformation of Africa. His works closely with African universities to train graduates who work with communities to strengthen university contribution to community transformation through skills development particularly entrepreneurship of talented, motivated and disadvantaged youth in Africa. He was recognized for his exemplary role and leadership in the management of the TAGDev Flagship and for mobilizing partnerships for Higher Education in Africa.

Mr. Moses Waswa been working at RUFORUM Secretariat for the past five years as the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, tracking implementation of RUFORUM Secretariat activities. He has over 10 years’ experience in Development Research, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. He has spearheaded the development and implementation of a results-based monitoring and evaluation system that enhances 360 degree accountability at RUFORUM Secretariat. He was recognized for quality work, timeliness in fulfilling his tasks, and good personal relationship with all staff at the Secretariat.

The awards were presented by Dr Florence Nakayiwa Mayega, RUFORUM Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Planning, Resource Mobilisation and Management. The Executive Secretary, Professor Adipala Ekwamu, congratulated the two staff and urged them and other staff to continue serving the Secretariat and RUFORUM Network diligently, efficiently and timely. He said
“We need to meet the expectations of the RUFORUM Network, nurture collaboration and partnership across our network, promote excellence in what we do, ensure accountability, promote inculcation of social values and inclusivity in our work”.

RUFORUM congratulate the recognized staff and wishes them more success!

Media Monitoring: Issues 64-70

RUFORUM Working Document Series No. 18

RUFORUM Working Document Series No. 18

Table of Contents
RUFORUM Working Document Series
Vol 18: 2019

Mensah, S., Tusiime, G. and Adipala, E.

RUFORUM Working Document Series No. 17 (3) 2018

RUFORUM Working Document Series No. 17 (3) 2018

Sixth RUFORUM Biennial Conference: Book of Abstracts

“Aligning African Universities to accelerate attainment of Africa’s Agenda 2063”

Mensah, S. and Adipala, E.
22-26 October 2018, Nairobi, Kenya

RUFORUM Working Document Series No. 17 (2) 2018

RUFORUM Working Document Series No. 17 (2) 2018


Sixth RUFORUM Biennial Conference: Book of Abstracts

“Aligning African Universities to accelerate attainment of Africa’s Agenda 2063”

RUFORUM Working Document Series Vol.17 No.2 Table of Contents

Mensah, S. and Adipala, E.

Seasonal Greetings from RUFORUM

The RUFORUM Secretariat appreciates your continued support and wishes you a Happy Holiday as we look forward to more fruitful partnerships in 2021.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Opportunités de Formation de Troisième Cycle dans le cadre du Programme d’Assistanat d’Enseignement Supérieur de RUFORUM (GTA)

Lors de la réunion annuelle des Vice-Chanceliers / Présidents / Directeurs de Section / Recteurs des Universités Membres de RUFORUM (voir les liens sur le Dépliant de RUFORUM et l’Aperçu de RUFORUM) qui s’est tenue le 11 novembre 2020, les Vice-Chanceliers ont réaffirmé leur engagement envers le Programme d’Assistanat d’Enseignement Supérieur (GTA) qu’ils ont initié en 2014. Les objectifs du GTA sont les suivants: i) Améliorer la qualité de l’enseignement supérieur et augmenter le nombre du personnel académique formé au niveau du doctorat dans les universités Africaines; ii) Fournir à la recherche doctorale des opportunités de contribuer plus directement au développement de l’Afrique; iii) Renforcer la collaboration interuniversitaire dans le domaine de l’enseignement supérieur en Afrique; et iv) Promouvoir la mobilité du personnel parmi les universités membres de RUFORUM et à travers l’Afrique.

Suite à la réunion des Vice-Chanceliers du 11 novembre 2020, le Secrétariat de RUFORUM est heureux d’annoncer la disponibilité des opportunités de formation dans ses différentes Universités Membres dans le cadre de l’accord GTA. Le Secrétariat sollicite plus d’offres d’autres universités membres pour former des candidats GTA.

Dans le cadre du Progamme GTA: 

  1. Les universités d’envoi  nomment les membres de leur personnel pour être  formé pendant que le secrétariat de RUFORUM aide à les placer dans les universités d’accueil (hôte)
  2. Les universités d’envoi s’engagent à payer les frais de voyage, d’assurance, de survie et de recherche de leur personnel en formation
  3. Les universités d’accueil renoncent aux frais académiques et aux coûts y associés, et fournissent un logement aux boursiers GTA admis
  4. Une fois que le processus d’admission est terminé, les universités d’envoi et d’accueil ainsi que le boursier GTA nommé signent un accord tripartite pour guider l’accueil et la formation du boursier
  5. Dans certains cas où des opportunités existent, l’université d’accueil peut associer le boursier GTA au programme de recherche de l’université d’accueil
  6. Le secrétariat de RUFORUM facilite l’accord GTA et fait le suivi sur la formation des boursiers GTA

Les nominations par les Vice-Chanceliers pour les positions disponibles doivent être soumises au Secrétaire Exécutif de RUFORUM à dès que possible.

No.Université d’AccueilPaysCours/programmes disponiblesNombre de positions disponibles
1Université d’Agriculture et des Ressources Naturelles du BotswanaBotswana1. Master en Education Agricole
2. Master en Génie Agricole (Conservation des Sols et de l’eau, Mécanisation, aménagement de Terres)
3. Master en Science Agricoles (Agronomie, Science des sols, Protection des Plantes, Horticulture)
4. Master Sciences Animales (Reproduction Animales, Santé Animale, Systèmes de Gestion Animale, Nutrition Animale)
5. Doctorat en Sciences Agricoles (Agronomie, Science des sols, Protection des Plantes, Horticulture, Agroforesterie)
6. Doctorat en Sciences Animales (Reproduction Animales, Systèmes de Gestion Animales, Nutrition Animale)
2Université d’eSwatinieSwatini1. Doctorat en Economie Agricole
2. Doctorat en Vulgarisation Agricole
4Université d’Abomey CalaviBénin1. Doctorat en Mathématiques
2. Doctorat en Physique
3. Doctorat en Statistique et Biométrie
4. Doctorat en Changement Climatique
5. Doctorat en Irrigation
5Université d’Agriculture et des Ressources Naturelles de LilongweMalawi1. Doctorat en Vulgarisation Agricole
2. Doctorat en Economie Agricole/ Doctorat en Gestion du Marketing
3. Master en Gestion de la Chaîne de Valeur Agroalimentaire / Master en Gestion Agro-Industrielle
4. Doctorat  en Aquaculture et Pêche
5. Doctorat en Agriculture (Science Animale)
6Université de NairobiKenya1. Doctorat en Biochimie
2. Doctorat en Biologie (Botanique)
3. Doctorat en Protection des Cultures/Entomologie
4. Master en Génie Biomédical 5. Doctorat en Sciences Animales 6. Doctorat en Elevage Animal
7. Doctorat en Génétique Moléculaire ou en Elevage
8. Doctorat en Gestion de la Faune
9. Doctorat en Gestion de la Fertilité des Sols
7Université KenyattaKenya1. Doctorat en Economie Agricole3
8Université de ZambieZambie1. Doctorat en génie civil et environnemental
2. Doctorat en Gestion de l’Ingénierie
3. Master en Génie Electrique
4. Doctorat en Mécanique des Roches/Doctorat en Exploitation Minière à Petite Echelle
5. Doctorat en Gestion de Construction
6. Doctorat en Santé des Adolescents (Santé Sexuelle et Reproductive)
9Université des Sciences et Technologies de MbararaOuganda1. Doctorat en Administration et Planification de l’Education
2. Doctorat en Santé Publique 3. Doctorat en médecine et sciences
4. Doctorat en Gestion
5. Doctorat en Génie Biomédical
6. Doctorat en Mathématiques
10Université d’HaramayaEthiopie1. Doctorat  en Changement Climatique et Conservation de la Biodiversité
2. Master en Changement Climatique
3. Master en Conservation de la Biodiversité et Gestion des Ecosystèmes
11Université de NamibieNamibie1. Doctorat/Master en Nutrition Animale
2. Doctorat/Master en Reproduction Animale
3. Doctorat/Master en Génétique Moléculaire
4. Doctorat/Master en Production Avicole
5. Doctorat/Master en Gestion des Pâturages
6. Doctorat en Transformation des Fruits et Légumes
7. Doctorat en développement de produits
8. Doctorat en Chimie Alimentaire
9. Doctorat en Science des Céréales
10. Doctorat en Microbiologie Alimentaire
12Université d’EldoretKenya1. Doctorat en Science des Semences
2. Doctorat en Sciences de Sols
3. Doctorat en Aquaculture et Pêche
4. Doctorat en Foresterie et Science du Bois
5. Doctorat en Sciences Environnementales
6. Doctorat en Education Technologique

* D’autres opportunités seront communiquées à mesure que nous recevrons la confirmation des universités membres. Veuillez consulter le site Web de RUFORUM:

Secrétariat de RUFORUM

04 décembre 2020

Postgraduate Training Opportunities under the RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship Program (GTA)

During the annual meeting of Vice Chancellors/Presidents/Principals/Rectors of RUFORUM Member Universities (see links about RUFORUM flier and RUFORUM at a Glance) held on 11th November 2020, the Vice Chancellors re-affirmed their commitment to the Graduate Teaching Assistantship Program that they initiated in 2014. The objectives of the GTA are to: i) Improve the quality of higher education and increase the pool of PhD-level trained academic staff in African universities; ii) Provide opportunities for the doctoral research to contribute more directly to African development; iii) Strengthen inter- university collaboration in the field of higher education in Africa; and iv) Promote staff mobility among RUFORUM member universities, and across Africa.

Following the meeting of the Vice Chancellors on 11th November 2020, the RUFORUM Secretariat is pleased to announce the availability of training opportunities at the different Member Universities as part of the GTA arrangement. The Secretariat invites for more offers from the other member universities to train GTA candidates.

Under the GTA arrangement:

  1. The sending universities nominate the staff to be trained and RUFORUM Secretariat helps to get them placed in receiving (host) Universities
  2. The sending universities commit to pay for travel, health insurance, upkeep and research of their staff under training
  3. The receiving/host universities waive the fees and associated costs, and provide accommodation for the admitted GTA Fellows
  4. Once admission process is completed, the sending and host universities and the nominated GTA Fellow sign a Tripartite Agreement to guide the hosting and training of the Fellow
  5. In some cases where opportunities exist, the host University may attach the GTA Fellow to the research program at the hosting university
  6. The RUFORUM Secretariat facilitates the GTA arrangement and follows up on the GTA training

The nominations by the Vice Chancellors for the available positions should be submitted to RUFORUM Executive Secretary at as soon as possible.

No.Host UniversityCountryAvailable Courses/programsNumber of Available positions
1Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesBotswanaMSc Agricultural EducationMSc Agricultural Engineering (Soil and Water Conservation, Mechanization, Land Use PlanningMSc Crop Science (Agronomy, Soil Science, Crop Protection, Horticulture streams)MSc Animal Science (Animal Breeding and Reproduction, Animal Health, Animal Management Systems, Animal Nutrition streams)PhD Crop Science (Agronomy, Soil Science, Crop Protection, Horticulture, Agroforestry streams)PhD Animal Science (Animal Breeding and Reproduction, Animal Management Systems, Animal Nutrition streams)  19    
2University of eSwatinieSwatini1. PhD in Agricultural Economics
2. PhD in Agricultural Extension
4University of Abomey CalaviBenin1. PhD in Mathematics
2. PhD in Physics
3. PhD in Statistics and Biometry
4. PhD in Climate Change
5. PhD in Irrigation
5Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesMalawi1. PhD Agricultural Extension
2. PhD in Agricultural Economics/ PhD Marketing Management
3. MSc. In Agribusiness and agri-food value chain management/ MSC in Agribusiness management
4. PhD in Aquaculture Fisheries
5. PhD in Agriculture (Animal Science)
6University of NairobiKenya1. PhD in Biochemistry
2. PhD in Biology (Botany)
3. PhD in Crop Protection/ Entomology
4. Masters in Biomedical Engineering
5. PhD in Animal Science
6. PhD in Animal Breeding
7. PhD in Molecular Genetics or Breeding
8. PhD in Wildlife Management
9. PhD in Soil Fertility Management
7Kenyatta UniversityKenyaPhD in Agricultural Economics3
8University of ZambiaZambia1. PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering
2. PhD in Engineering Management
3. MSc in Electrical Engineering
4. PhD in Rock Mechanics/ PhD Small scale mining
5. PhD in Construction Management
6. PhD in Adolescent Health (Sexual Reproductive Health)
9Mbarara University of Science and TechnologyUganda1.PhD in Educational Administration and Planning
2. PhD in Public Health
3. PhD in Medicine and Science
4. PhD in Management
5. PhD in Biomedical Engineering
6. PhD in Mathematics
10Haramaya UniversityEthiopia1. PhD in Climate Smart Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation
2. MSc in Climate Smart Agriculture
3. MSc in Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management
11University of NamibiaNamibia1. PhD / MSc in Animal Nutrition
2. PhD / MSc in Animal Breeding
3. PhD / MSc in Molecular Genetics
4. PhD / MSc in Poultry Production
5. PhD / MSc in Rangeland Resource Management
6. PhD in Fruits and Vegetable processing
7. PhD in Product Development
8. PhD in Food Chemistry
9. PhD in Cereal Science
10. PhD in Food Microbiology
12University of EldoretKenya1.Phd in Seed Science
2. PhD in Soil Science
3. PhD in Aquaculture and Fisheries
4. PhD in Environmental Science
5. PhD in Technology Education

* More openings will be communicated as we receive confirmation from member universities. Kindly check the RUFORUM website:

RUFORUM Secretariat 04 December 2020

I bought a piece of land that I will transform one day

My name is James Akuku, a beneficiary of the TagDev Project. Thanks to the MasterCard Foundation and RUFORUM, I am pursuing a Master of Science degree in Food Security and Community Nutrition at Gulu University.

With the continuous financial support that I receive from the MasterCard Foundation, I have been able to meet the basic needs of my family and more during the COVID-19 lockdown. I have also been able to use the additional savings from my scholarship to buy a piece of land just outside of Adjumani Town, which I hope to use to start a housing project in the near future.

Besides investing in land, I have also provided financial support to my family during the lockdown as they are largely dependent on me. The situation for us has been made worse because of the prolonged rains that led to flooding and therefore destroyed most farm crops. With poor or low harvest, many families in the community have been left vulnerable. 

In the background, is the land bought by James Akuku from his stipend.

Because I have been spending a lot of time in the community, I also decided to use that time productively by providing advisory services to farmers, especially how to undertake cost-effective agricultural practices, including home gardening in small spaces. I also provide education and knowledge on good health and sanitation practices and how to prevent COVID-19.

Being a graduate student, at the moment I’m busy developing my research proposal together with my supervisor who is very supportive. I have also been doing a lot of reading, thanks to the internet data extended to us during this time that we have spent at home. As a result, I was able to download over 100 online books, which I believe will widen my knowledge and understanding of different issues.

Returning home during COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise

I come from Karamoja region, in northwestern Uganda. It is also a place with rich culture, and where such culture is cherished. So, when I returned home during the COVID-19 lockdown, I decided to start a fashion business that would promote fabrics from my culture. But first, from the stipend I get from the MasterCard Foundation as part of my education scholarship, I enrolled for a course in tailoring. After three months, I was able to make my own designs. So, I started my fashion project which I named Afribeauty Fashion House.

Trying out some of the designs

At the moment, Afribeauty Fashion House is a business that operates at a small scale. I make bracelets, necklaces, earrings and transform already made clothes and shoes with a touch of African print materials. I largely use social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to advertise my products. But I also use word of mouth to let people in my community know about what is on offer at Afribeauty Fashion House. With commitment and hard work, I can report that the project has started flourishing.

Some of the colorful earrings from Afribeauty Fashion House

And through it, I have managed to get the following benefits: Coming from a low-income household, it has helped boost the family finances. We use the extra money to buy food and other essential items needed at home. I have also used the experience from running this business to teach my siblings and other young girls in the community about life skills. That also means I have additional help in making the products we require to sell.



Like any other business, I have also faced some challenges in the process of implementing the project. Purchasing materials to use especially during the lockdown when non-essential businesses were not allowed to operate became challenging. However, with the easing of some of the restrictions, this challenge has been addressed. There has also been a challenge of getting to the customers since the platform I use to advertise—social media is not one that many people in my region use. 

All in all, though, I am glad that what started off as a small idea when we broke off to return home during COVID-19 is able to bring in an extra income for my family. I’d like to appreciate the MasterCard Foundation for bringing out the best in me through this opportunity. Because of this, I have also learnt the benefit of always supporting those around me with knowledge and skills that I can offer. 

By Margaret Loruk Jaka

I started a business selling clothes and shoes

As a young girl, I loved to see people wear beautiful shoes and clothes. Even though I didn’t have the money to buy them then, I dreamt of a time when I could. That dream is now a reality. Today I run a business that sells clothes and shoes. I mostly use social media to market the products I have and reach customers. From that income, and more raised from friends, I was able to get a stall in the market where I now sell the clothes. I work with my sister who runs the business when I am busy with school. The income from the business has been able to support my family and also pay tuition for my younger siblings. Due to COVID-19, the profit has dropped by 34% but, as I continue running the business, I hope to raise enough money to buy a cow, which will provide the family with milk and manure for the farm.

Some of the clothes on display

Thanks to MasterCard Foundation for providing us with opportunities to develop and grow, both academically and economically.

By Providence Irakoze

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