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Rwandan president pushes educational partnership at GAC

Photo by Evan Agostini

Photo by Evan Agostini

NORCROSS -- Rwanda President Paul Kagame visited a private school in Atlanta's suburbs on Wednesday in hopes of developing a partnership to build a model school that would educate a "generation of ethical Christian leaders" in the central African nation.

Kagame joined administrators of the Greater Atlanta Christian School to discuss plans for a sprawling sister school in Kigali, his nation's capital, as part of a four-stop visit to the U.S. He is also visiting Oklahoma Christian University on Friday to address students there.

Kagame has developed a long-term plan that aims to improve Rwanda's economy and education in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The massacres ended when Tutsi-led rebels under Kagame defeated the Hutu extremists.

Kagame and school officials said a partnership would help usher in a new era of educational cooperation between the U.S. and Rwanda, a nation of more than 9 million people. They hope to start a Central Africa School of Excellence in Kigali that would educate generations of future leaders for the region.

The school will feature a college to train teachers, an athletics complex and housing for students and faculty. There is no estimated price tag yet, but images of the project's blueprint -- which also included, trails, parks and a library near the center of campus -- were flashed on screens throughout Kagame's visit.

"We look forward to working with you, having more visits and seeing many of you visit our country," Kagame said in brief remarks after a raucous welcoming.

"It's been interesting to see firsthand the vision and day-to-day practice of this school," he said after touring the Norcross campus. "This has brought great appreciation for the initiative to replicate this in Africa."

David Fincher, the Norcross school's president, said his school's students would partner with counterparts more than 8,000 miles away. He said elementary students would connect with digital pen pals in Rwanda, while star high school students would travel overseas to study with outstanding scholars in Kigali.

The goal is to foster long-term relationships between students in the Atlanta are and Rwanda through both Christian missions and, eventually, business partnerships, Fincher said.

"This is about creating the next generation of capable, ethical values-laden Christian leaders for Rwanda," he said.

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