Youth First Rwanda

Youth First | Rwanda

Background + Situation


In the 26 years since the tragedy of the 1994 genocide and civil war that ravaged the country, Rwanda has emerged as a model for development in Africa with its growing middle class and reputation for fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. But even as Rwanda is praised for its phenomenal progress, exponential growth and regional influence, the country still faces many challenges associated with entrenched poverty, gender bias, and lingering effects of a country traumatized by genocide.

A substantial percent of rural and urban Rwandan families still struggle to meet basic needs on a daily basis: in 2016, nearly 60% of the population were living below the international poverty line (equivalent of USD 1.90 per day) and just over 80% below the lower middle income threshold of $3.20 per day.

In 2018, only 39% of students transitioned from primary to secondary school, with enrollment steadily declining in higher grades. Recent data point to rising rates of teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, drug use, school dropout, under-employment, and suicide among Rwandan youth.

CorStone Response | Youth First Rwanda


Youth First Rwanda | YFR is a school-based integrated resilience and adolescent health program designed to improve mental and physical wellbeing and education-related outcomes among lower secondary school (S-1) students (ages to 13-15).

In 2020, Youth First was adapted and contextualized for Rwandan youth based on a formative assessment conducted by CorStone and local partner Inspire, Educate and Empower Rwanda.

From September 2020-June 2021, CorStone and IEE will be conducting a five-school pilot to fine-tune the YFR approach to training, delivery, and assessment in Rwanda. Incorporating lessons learned from the pilot, the program will formally launch in 50 schools across 5 districts in academic year 2021-2022.

CorStone will seek to support IEE and the Rwanda Education Board | REB in the implementation, evaluation, and growth of YFR over five years, aiming to transition program ownership to REB and scale the program to no less than 30,000 S-1 students (50% of total) per year in public schools across all 30 districts in Rwanda by the end of 2024.

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