Providing Support for Studying and Working Mothers

It's no secret that being a working parent can make for a difficult balance between work and family life. We at Kigali Moms and Dads love learning about companies that make it easier for parents (particular moms!) to manage parenthood and career goals! 

Today the team from the Akilah Institute shares how they're doing just that!

Akilah's Campus Creche

At Akilah, we firmly believe that motherhood and career ambitions should not be mutually exclusive. As we have developed and perfected our model, we’ve recognized that a holistic education means supporting students, in—and out of — the classroom. To that end, in 2014, we opened Akilah’s on-campus nursery to provide free daycare for students and staff. On-campus childcare allows students and staff to focus on their studies and careers knowing that their children are safe, cared for, and within walking distance.

“The nursery is a safe environment for the babies and their mothers … The best thing about it is that it teaches our students the meaning of being undeterred: No matter what they face in life as student mothers, nothing should come between them, their professional dreams, and life goals,” explains Dean of Students Daniel Namanya, noting that the campus nursery enables student mothers to perform on the same level as their peers without children.

“It’s a lot of work taking care of so many small babies. But when I see the kids are well and in good health, I feel happy. It’s unique for a school to have this setup — I haven’t seen it in any other university. It makes them able to focus on their studies while also being mothers,” shares Anastasia Kakuze, Nursery Manager and caretaker. Kakuze is a mother herself and hopes to enroll at Akilah in the future.

The crèche   is open to all ages, though most babies are between 2 and 6 months old. Anastasia, pictured center, is the Crèche Manager and oversees childcare at Akilah.

The crèche is open to all ages, though most babies are between 2 and 6 months old. Anastasia, pictured center, is the Crèche Manager and oversees childcare at Akilah.

The crèche is open to all ages, though most babies are between 2 and 6 months old. Anastasia, pictured center, is the Crèche Manager and oversees childcare at Akilah.

“During my pregnancy, knowing that I could bring my baby with me to school made me less nervous … It makes it easier for me to focus on my studies, and I can come [to the crèche] in my breaks to see him and feed him. If anything happens or if he needs me, I’m only a few minutes away.

I want to finish my studies so I can be someone in the future. I want to be independent, live up to my responsibilities, take care of my child, and have my own job. Other schools do not offer this to their students. That means that mothers need to look for other options, like having someone come to their house to look out for their baby.

It’s important to show young women that you can do both — be a mother and finish your studies. We have to fight for our studies, think big, and be ambitious about our future.”

— Umwali Gisele, Hospitality Management ‘18
(Her son, Tristan, is 2 months old.)

“It means a lot that I can bring my daughter here. Often when women give birth during their studies, they have to quit school so they can take care of their babies. Knowing that I can see her and feed her throughout the day makes it easier for me to focus. It means I can do well with my studies; I can compete in class while taking care of my baby and seeing her grow.

Often it affects people’s studies when they have a baby. Even if they continue in school, their hearts are not in it because you’re thinking about your baby. People from other campuses can’t focus like we can. We’re lucky that we can still be with our babies during school hours.

I’m graduating this year. I hope to find a job so I can get capital to start my own business. I would love to start my own supermarket and be able to provide for myself and my family.”

— Immaculée Nyirandikumana, Entrepreneurship ‘16
(Her daughter, Carine, is 6 months old).

“The thing that makes me able to do both is that I know how to organize myself. I wake up early to get myself and Dylan ready for school in time. It’s tiring, but I work hard to make it happen.

As women we should be able to do both: get an education and start a family. I like to be independent, so I need to study, get my own job, my own salary so I can take care of myself and my child. It’s important for women not to be underestimated by men — we can still be independent leaders in our workplace and communities.

Other women didn’t have the chance to go to school while having children. We do, and we should stand tall and achieve our dreams.”

— Hygutte Ikuze, Hospitality Management ‘17
(Her son, Dylan, is 4 months old.)

Akilah’s crèche has been fully funded since its inception thanks to the generosity of the Arthur and Veronica Goldberg Foundation.

Are you a parent hoping to continue your education? Apply today for Akilah's Evening & Weekend Program and study with a flexible schedule!

This post originally appeared on the Akilah Institute Blog