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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mandatory entry into EAC varsity forum

The Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) is currently working to ensure that all universities in the region are mandatory members of the regional body.

Currently, of the 22O higher institutions of learning in East Africa, only 93 are members of IUCEA.

“At the moment, it is voluntary, but once the new law is enacted by next year, then it will be mandatory for any higher institution of learning in the region to be part of the body,” IUCEA Executive Director, Prof. Mayunga Nkunya, said during the just concluded Higher Education Forum in Arusha.

The new legislation, according to Nkunya, will have benchmarks to ensure quality academic standards.

Regional ministers in charge of higher education will meet in Kigali early next month to discuss the act before sending it to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) for enactment.

“The ministers want the act to be in place as soon as possible because the current law is too weak and it doesn’t address issues pertinent to the region,” Nkunya said.

Meanwhile, participants at the EAC Higher Education Forum organised by IUCEA, yesterday derided regional universities that still don’t meet quality standards and called for a strict quality assurance framework.

Kenya’s EAC youth ambassador, Milly Mbedi, emphasised the need for scrapping off the current requirement of student passes, saying that this contravenes the free movement of people as provided in the Common Market Protocol.

“We would like to see more tailored courses at universities that will give way to job makers as opposed to job seekers like the situation is today,” Mbedi added.

Burundi’s EAC Youth Ambassador, Desire Bigirimana, said it was important to involve industries in the development of university curriculum and development of research projects.

By Gashegu Muramira

Friday, October 26, 2012

Adult education offers second chance

Gerardine Nyiramabindo’s experience is a bitter-sweet story. 

Despite her will and devotion to study, she never got a chance to go to school at a tender age.

And, unfortunately, those who were supposed to take Nyiramabindo, now 35, to school were the ones who violated her right to education.

As she remembers how she missed the chance to go to school 25 years ago, her heart is engulfed in grief.

“My parents are the ones who prevented me from attending school. They told me that going to school would prevent me from getting time to help my grandmother,” she laments.

The first day Nyiramabindo entered class was her last one as well.

“When I went to school for the first time, my father was very angry that he even beat me,” she bitterly recalls. 

“I was very sad but could not do anything against the will of my parents. So, I dropped out,” Nyiramabindo reminisces.

Nyiramabindo grew up in the rural Ruramba sector of Nyaruguru district. She was born to illiterate parents- who ironically wanted her to follow in their foot steps of illiteracy. 

“They did not understand the value of enrolling us in school,” she says.

The ‘forced drop-out’ from school affected her life and, in the long run, she lost interest in education.

“Even when I got children, I was adamant to take them to school. But I later changed my mind,” she adds.

Back to school

The nature of her job compelled the mother of five to take literacy lessons to cope with the situation.

In fact, Nyiramabindo, who operates a retail store in her village, says she got energised to enrol when she realised that she was losing money due to illiteracy and that she could not access certain services.  

“Some dishonest clients used to cheat me because of my poor counting skills,” she regrets.

Therefore, Nyiramabindo thought it wise to acquire writing skills and she ultimately joined an adult literacy programme in her home area.

Six months later, Nyiramabindo is now able to read, write and count.

The woman is one of the 614 adults, drawn from various parts of Nyaruguru district, who successfully completed a six month literacy programme.

The programme came to an end last Wednesday with the awards of certificates to the graduates.

The course was spearheaded by the Pentecostal Church of Rwanda (ADEPR) with financial support from CHF International, an international non-governmental organisation.

Like Nyiramabindo, many of the graduates felt that a little education could help improve their lifestyles, and they enrolled to the programme.

For them, knowing how to read, write and do basic calculations is essential in doing business and other income generating activities.

Damascene Nyirimana, 20, dropped out in primary two due to lack of discipline and commitment.

“Parents used to send me to school, but instead I could go to a nearby business centre and spend the whole day loitering,” he remembers with regret.

“It is when I grew up that I realised that education is important in life.”

A few months ago, Nyirimana remembers that he could not use a mobile phone due to lack of reading skills.

“I could not type names or phone numbers,” he says. “It was really deplorable.”

He adds, “Today, I know how to write and can easily change settings in a phone.

I also have the ability to read letters, newspapers and books. I believe this is important in my life in this era.”

Research into adult education shows that although adults who choose to go to school passed their 50s or even 70s have justified reasons. 

Some adults may join classes, not because they want to use their new literacy skills but because they want to join the literacy set. 

Such reasons relate to social status. They feel that other people (especially the literate group) regard them with scorn because they cannot engage in the dominant textual communications. 

Others want to learn literacy skills because they want to accomplish some literacy task. Several aspire to read the Bible or the Quran. Others join adult literacy classes, not to learn literacy skills for use but for the opportunities the course will subsequently provide. 

In a study done in Botswana, some adults said they had joined because literacy is a pre-requisite to getting a driving licence. In some contexts, obtaining a loan is dependant on being able to read and write. 

In Nepal, some adults came to classes because with the certificate of literacy they obtained at the end of the course, they could become Community Health Volunteers. 

Through adult literacy programme ran by the Pentacostal church, over 400 000 individuals from across Rwanda have now gained literacy skills since 1999, according to Rev. Jean Sibomana, the church’s legal representative.

Sibomana says the programme is part of the broad efforts to eradicate illiteracy, a major barrier to people’s development and welfare.

“Education is important in shaping people’s minds, changing their behaviours and bringing them to contribute actively to building a strong nation,” he observes.

In August this year, the National Adult Literacy Programme of the Pentecostal Church in Rwanda won the 2012 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize in recognition for their contribution in promoting literacy programmes.

By Jean Pierre Bucyensenge

EAC education forum opens

The first ever East African Higher Education Forum and exhibition kicked off in Arusha, Tanzania, on Wednesday, with officials calling on bridging of the gap between tertiary institutions and industries if knowledge-based economies are to be built.

The three-day meeting that brings together hundreds of higher education managers, researchers, policy makers and the business community was opened by the Tanzanian Vice President Mohammed Gharib Bilal.

Bilal called for the harmonisation of higher education and training systems to facilitate free mobility of youth to study in universities of their choice in the region as well as enhance free movement of graduates in the region.

“Higher education is also important for the promotion and protection of cultural diversity within our communities, in democratisation of the society and in promotion and supporting of trade in the region,” he added.

EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, observed that the inadequate financing of students and lack of enough research continues to hamper the expansion of the higher education sector in the region.

This, he warned, is also an area of concern that could compromise the quality of education delivered in the region.

“Therefore, it is very critical for the region to diversify higher education and research financing opportunities by enhancing the active participation of the private sector.”

Different speakers emphasised that education should be regarded as an increasingly strong determinant for the competitiveness and innovation of any economy.

“The relation between supply and demand side – meaning to say between the academia on one side and the commercial and economic sector on the other – has to be re-adjusted,” said Bernd Multhaup, the GIZ Programme Manager.

“Instead of waiting on each side for the other, both sides are requested to develop a different attitude and mindset towards cooperation and deriving synergies.”

Prof. Elie Buconyori, the Chairperson of the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), said that a quality assurance framework in higher education is being developed to ensure quality academic standards.

“Without significant research inputs, attainment of knowledge-based economies in East Africa, that we are all longing for, will remain a distant dream on paper,” Buconyori lamented.

The regional higher education system has, for long, lacked focus on the needs of the labour market and those of the private and public sectors leading to increased unemployment.

The forum has attracted speakers both from the region, Singapore and Germany, who will make presentations on how collaborative partnerships between the academia and the business community can be enhanced.

By Gashegu Muramira

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

UNR begins four-day graduation

The National University of Rwanda (NUR), yesterday, started a week-long graduation ceremony which will see over 3200 students who completed their studies in the last academic year graduate in various disciplines.

The ‘graduation week’ runs from October 23- 26. 

The graduation is being conducted at the faculty level and each faculty has its own day.

On Tuesday, about 970 students from the Faculties of Law and of Arts, Media and Social Sciences graduated with diplomas, Bachelor’s as well as Master’s Degrees.

According to officials, the graduation at the faculty level was dictated by the need to cut down on the costs of bigger events which were held in the past.

“Graduation ceremonies were getting very large and taking a lot of time, that we needed to find another way of celebrating our success and the success of [our] students,” Prof Silas Lwakabamba, NUR Rector, explained yesterday.

“This year, we are running four separate ceremonies. We take each of them just as seriously as the ‘grand ceremony’ of previous years, and each is still being attended by more people than some institutions graduate in an entire year. But they should be more manageable for the people who attend them and their guests”.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, the Minister of Education, Vincent Biruta highlighted the need to train competitive students who can contribute to the development of the country.

“We must position our students strategically, which will allow them to get jobs or to create them”.

He told graduates that they will have to work hard in order to surpass others if they are to be successful.

Reiterating the government’s commitment to promoting quality education, the minister noted that the single university scheme will help  in tha perspective. 

“The single university scheme will transform higher education to improve its efficiency and the quality of learning... [and] the effective management of human and financial resources,” he said.

Abanyeshuri bateguye igitaramo

Kuwa gatanu tariki 26/10/2012, mu ishuri ryisumbuye ryitwa Glory Secondary School riri ahahoze ULK mu gishanga hazabera igitaramo cyo gushima Imana ibyiza yabakoreye no mu rwego rwo gusezeranaho kubera umwaka urangiye.

Iki gitaramo kizatangira ku isaha ya saa saba n’igice z’amanywa bakazaba bari kumwe n’umuhanzi Arcene Manzi, Pastor Gaby Ngamije na Pastor David. Kwinjira muri iki gitaramo bizaba ari ubuntu.

Nk’uko bimaze kumenyerwa, ibigo by’amashuri byinshi mu mpera z’umwaka w’amashuri bategura ibitaramo byo gusezeranaho ndetse by’umwihariko abasenga bakagira umwanya wihariye wo gushima Imana ibyiza iba yarabakoreye umwaka wose.

Literacy, Language, & Learning (L3)

The Literacy, Language, and Learning Initiative (L3) helps Rwanda’s Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) develop and implement new national standards for literacy (in English and Kinyarwanda) and numeracy, aiming to improve students’ reading and mathematics skills in grades 1 to 4, as well as their English language proficiency. 

Working in collaboration with MINEDUC and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), L3 works with preservice and inservice facilitators to introduce proven reading and mathematics teaching strategies and with community volunteers to support struggling learners. 

The initiative also aims to improve the availability and use of innovative reading and math instructional materials. Teachers’ and students’ English language skills will be reinforced through interactive audio programs. By the end of its five years, L3 will reach over 1.5 million learners and nearly 30,000 teachers and provide over 1 million teaching and learning materials to schools. 

In addition, students and teachers will demonstrate improved performance and achievement, greater equity in instruction will be established, and teacher training institutions will be transformed into centers of excellence.


TTC trainees write stories for pupils

Thirty Teacher Training College (TTC) students read their own original stories to neighboring primary school students at Academie de la Salle in Byumba on Friday afternoon. They also encouraged the primary students to read and write their own stories.
At the event, organized by VSO volunteer Dorothy Nelson, primary school students crowded together in small circles to listen to the TTC students’ stories. TTC students asked the children questions about the story before, during, and after reading to engage them in the story.
“It is my hope that these stories will inspire these primary students to write their own stories,” says Nelson.
TTC students wrote these stories in July at a writer’s workshop facilitated by VSO as part of the USAID-funded Literacy, Language, and Learning (L3) Initiative. For some, it was the first time they had ever written a story.
“This writer’s workshop can stimulate our hidden talents,” says TTC student Themistocles Abayisaba, who has continued writing stories after the workshop’s completion.
According to L3′s Technical Director Norma Evans, TTC students should be encouraged to use stories in their classrooms when they become teachers. “Children need constant exposure to written content to learn to read,” she says. “Stories show students that reading is meaningful, that it has a purpose, and it gets students interested in reading.”
Not only is reading in the classroom essential, but so is writing. Evans also says that even from Primary 1 students should have opportunities for authentic writing—not merely copying from the board, but writing to express themselves. “Writing helps students figure out which letters represent the individual sounds they hear in words.” Evans says. “This helps them to be better readers.”
The Kigali Institute of Education, with support from the L3 initiative, is revising TTC curricula to include a focus on writing and the importance of story in the classroom. VSO volunteers with specialization in literacy will support the implementation of the new curricula and will also organize activities such as writer’s workshops and writing competitions at the TTCs to encourage a culture of reading and writing.
Jean Bosco Bigirimana, principal of TTC Byumba, is pleased with this focus on story. “This is the beginning. This is your first story,” he told the TTC students at Friday’s event. “Write many stories. Use the stories to teach your pupils when you leave school to be teachers.”

REB and L3 share literacy practices

The Rwanda Education Board (REB)’s Dr. Joyce Musabe and the Literacy, Language, and Learning (L3) Initiative’s Norma Evans and Caroline Dusabe represented Rwanda at International Literacy Day in Washington, DC.
The event marking the occasion took place on September 7 and was co-hosted by USAID, the Global Partnership for Education, and the Brookings Institute.
Dr. Musabe’s presentation focused on the Rwanda Reads initiative launched by REB and its partners this past July. The umbrella initiative, which brings together education stakeholders in both the public and private sectors, is promoting the development of literacy skills and a culture of reading for enjoyment through numerous projects.
Among these initiatives, Musabe highlighted the establishment of new national reading standards for primary 3 and 5. These standards will inform the revision of curricula and the tracking of students’ reading progress throughout primary school.
REB, with partner L3, will support the achievement of these goals through the development of new instructional materials, a professional development program for teachers, and efforts to increase students’ access to quality reading materials.
Dr. Musabe emphasized that all levels of government, from the first lady to sector education officers, are well informed and engaged in the project. “Everybody’s watching,” she said. “The Prime Minister knows about the mobile libraries, that writer’s workshops must be done. These things are very well known.”
Such support is instrumental for Rwanda Read’s success.
In DC, the Rwanda delegation also visited Oyster Adams Bilingual School, which uses English and Spanish as languages of instruction.
Oyster Adams’ literacy program emphasizes the use of story and guided, leveled reading in the classroom. Children write or draw responses to stories and answer questions about what they have read or heard.
These elements, among others, are included in the work of the L3 initiative. “We’re going in the right direction,” said L3’s Dusabe.
The delegation also participated in the Mobile Education Alliance International Symposium on September 5-6 in DC. The event aimed to highlight the innovative use of technology for supporting literacy education.
The delegation was particularly interested in mobile technologies which distribute children’s stories through mobile phones and which allow teachers to search for words and stories containing the language sound they are teaching at that time.
Dr. Musabe said the team is already in contact with some organizations to inquire about these tools. “If those tools are being used in other countries, especially in Africa, why not in Rwanda?”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Refresher tips for technical tutors

The Workforce Development authority (WDA) on Friday concluded financial planning training for heads and teachers of several technical schools in the Southern Province.

The province has over 70 technical schools and vocational centres but 11 were chosen first to be trained for the planning, according to Gédéon Rudahunga, principal, IPRC Southern province.

It was agreed that no technical and vocational school will develop its own financial planning, as WDA has already set how the schools will work and the financial planning to follow according to Rudahunga.

According to Andre Ndahiro, the in charge of quality assurance at WDA, technical and vocational education and training centres, also known as TVETs, are generally doing well but they still face challenges, including  inadequate equipment, teachers who leave jobs for greener pastures, and the incompetence of some teachers.

Dr. Bernardin Rutwaza, the in charge of financial planning at the institution, hailed the training and acknowledged the significance of the training and the core role it will play to the performance of the schools.

Belgium, through its Belgian Technical Cooperation, has injected €6 million in the financial planning in 5 years.

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Gasabo pupils get 4,000 laptops

At least 52 schools in Gasabo District have already benefited from the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) programme, the mayor, Willy Ndizeye, said Friday. 

Operating under the Ministry of Education, OLPC aims at ensuring that at least every primary school pupil in Rwanda gains computer skills and uses the gadgets customised to suit the needs of a child.

Ndizeye made the remarks at a news conference called to highlight on the progress the district has achieved and future plans.

“Before the programme, it was almost impossible for some children especially those from vulnerable families to have access or practice skills they acquire in schools,” he said.

Ndizeye noted that given the national programme aimed at making the country a regional ICT hub, the young generation has a big role to play. 

He explained that with laptops at schools, students are having practical skills unlike before when teachers could concentrate more on theory.

He also said that the district is constructing more vocational schools to enable the passing out of more job creators than seekers.

During the conference, Ndizeye highlighted on a number of development projects that include infrastructure development like roads, schools and health centres.

Among others, Ndizeye said that the expropriation exercise of Kimicanga residents is going on smoothly, and will be completed depending on when the funds are available.

“In respect to the Kigali Master Plan, we are making sure that we give way to its implementation but also in respect of the rights of those who are being expropriated,” he said.

Early this year, the district started expropriating residents Kimicanga, to pave way for the development of the area in accordance with the Kigali City Master plan.

According to the plan, the area will be developed into what has been called Kimicanga Entertainment District, which will host a variety of recreational facilities. 

Another part of the area has been earmarked for development of apartments. 

The area had 492 landlords with 673 houses.

Implemented by Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), the expropriation exercise being done in two phases and is estimated to cost government Rwf 2.5 billion.

The areas that have been earmarked for the evicted population include Gisozi, Nduba, Bumbogo, Jabana and Gatsata, all in Gasabo district. 

However, the district authorities have of recent been under criticism not only due to its performance in implementing its projects as per the 2011/2012 performance contracts that saw it ranked 29th out of the 30 districts, but even due to some decisions made that attracted mixed reactions from the public.

On the recent saga between city authorities and Papyrus Restaurant and Bar, a popular Kigali City hangout that was recently reported that it might be closed, the Mayor said, “All stakeholders met and the latest is that the proprietor is not meant to operate a discotheque, and Kigali City only advised the proprietor to comply with the approved plans of the building.”

By Susan Babijja

Best debating students awarded

ISAE-Busogo emerged the best university while Sonrise High School scooped award for best secondary school in the inaugural Young Entrepreneur Debate Championship.

Both represented the Northern Province in a competition that attracted 40 schools – secondary schools and institutions of higher learning – in a series of fierce debates.

The debate was organised by Rwanda Inspiration Backup, a local organisation.

Sixteen year old Georgette Umunezero, a senior four science student at Sonrise High School, who emerged best debater, said that confidence and self-belief were the key.

“It has been a tough competition and I am grateful to everyone who helped me emerge the best. As a matter of fact, I was initially scared and wanted to pull out, but my teachers encouraged me to keep going. They helped me build my self-confidence, this is one value I have mastered here,” Umunezero said in an interview.

The Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, asked students to focus on acquiring new knowledge and skills because the country was looking to them for a bright future.

“The country is looking to building a legacy of self reliance, a goal which the youth have a very vital role in. Before we look elsewhere for solutions to our challenges, we are going to be counting on you to improve on your skills, knowledge and understanding, so you can help your country move forward,” Nsengimana said.

“Such debate competitions are designed to sharpen your understanding of national and international affairs, and it’s through such platforms that your ideas and thoughts can be listened to by policy-makers.”

Prizes included iPads and shopping vouchers from one of the biggest retail stores, Nakumatt.

By Ivan R. Mugisha

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tracer study for KHI graduates

Kigali Health Institute (KHI) has launched a six-month survey that will enable the Institution to determine the employment status of its graduates.

About 3,000 students have graduated at the institute since it began in June 1996, but there is no substantial data base containing information regarding their where-abouts.

The overall significance of this new survey is to quantify the main employment markets for the graduates, thereby establishing the correlation between the type of employment and qualification of the graduate plus its associated satisfaction.

The tracer study will determine career mobility patterns as well as challenges graduates face in obtaining suitable employment.

David Kabagema, the Head of Research at KHI, told the media yesterday that it would be an appropriate means of evaluating the results of the education and training provided.

“The results of the study will indicate possible deficits and merits of KHI educational programmes and serve as a basis for future planning and improvement,” he noted.

“This will bring out a demonstration of the relative success between the graduates’ labour market and employer needs”.

Kabagema added that the study will eventually ensure the availability of adequate health manpower since it will provide information on challenges and opportunities encountered while serving the population.

Currently, KHI has a population of over 1,200 students.

Morris Kanyoni, the Principle Researcher in the survey, explained that a team of data collectors and entrants will move around the country identifying the number of graduates currently employed.

Focus group discussions will frequently be conducted so as to share any other information about the existing graduates.

The data collectors will also find out how many of the graduates have obtained post-graduate qualifications as well as the views of employers towards KHI graduates’ performance.

Questionnaires will also be displayed on the institution’s official website so that graduates who may not be reached physically can access it online.

 “We shall also eventually be able to ascribe an employment seniority status of KHI graduates such as operational, middle, senior management or executive level employees,” he said.

KHI was recently named best Healthcare Educational Institute in Africa. It was honoured with the Le Matinal Educational Excellence annual Award for innovation, academic and leadership interface as well as the supreme objective of building future leaders.

By Sam Nkurunziza

Aptech education to teach IT

Aptech Limited, one of the global leaders in the field of technology development and training, has formally opened its franchise model training centre in Kigali.

The Indian based institution that started its education and training business in 1986, has globally trained over 6.5 million students.

The event to inaugurate the India Information Technologies Rwanda branch-Aptech was held on Thursday evening and attracted students, academicians, government officials and members of the business community.

“We are happy that Aptech has opened its training centre in Rwanda. This will give an opportunity to Rwandan students to pursue their career in ICT training at home without travelling abroad where Aptech has its branches,” said Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Rector of Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST).

She stated that Rwanda needs more skilled people in information technology and that Aptech has opened the branch at the right time.

“Despite the fact that we offer a wide range of technology skills at KIST, we can’t satisfy the market demand. Be our partner in enhancing ICT skills,” Mujawamariya told Aptech officials.

The centre has, so far enrolled about 180 students in its initial class of 2012, but more students are currently registering before the classes begin on November 1, 2012.

Aptech has a presence in more than 40 emerging countries.

As a leader in career education, it has over 1,305 centres of learning across the world.

The centre offers career and professional training in the areas of Aptech hardware and networking skills, english learning, web design, and database management, among others.

“We have introduced a unique training methodology for ICT training and Aptech has demonstrated a consistent and sustainable performance in the education sector,” said Jagan P.K, the Managing Director of Indian Information Technologies Rwanda-Aptech.

He noted that the centre will embark on providing outstanding skills in ICT education to local and foreign students.

“We are aiming at producing more job creators than job seekers and introduce more competent technological skills in the market,” Jagan stated.

Students will undergo a three-year course in various disciplines to earn a degree.

Source: The New Times

President's full speech to students

President Paul Kagame on Friday met over 2000 student representatives from institutions of higher learning across the country.

Below is the full speech

Good morning all

Distinguished persons, teachers and students, all those listening

Let me start by thanking you.

I thank you for this good idea of this gathering and inviting us. I also thank you for what is included in the discussion that is constructive and aims at building our country.

You will allow me to mix languages but not do not worry for they are not many; only two. If many they will be three. The three languages I speak are, English, Kinyarwanda and Swahili but sometimes French when I want.

To save more time you can translate for your neighbour in case they don’t understand some of the languages. Maybe those studying ICT can invent an application that can translate immediately.

Students,Youth, this is a long stride people are making to see that you yourselves agree to take the lead to be leaders now. Not waiting for tomorrow, to be leaders of today, to take responsibility to be leaders. That’s how it should be and it starts early.

For the youth to take their proper role in leadership, it must start early. You don’t wait for tomorrow. You start as early as possible, it starts with individuals, then groups, then it goes up to the level of the nation and beyond.

Here we talk about you as individual students, as students groups, as a nation and as a continent, our continent of Africa is in dire need of change, change that must be and should be brought by you. You must carry the responsibility, and this is one way of doing that. I thank you on that note.

I was following the news and someone said something in an article I read; there was a francophonie summit, some people first passed somewhere before reaching Kinshasa for the summit.

There is one leader who passed through Senegal, from there he said some good words. We have been used to these good words for a long time, but the good words are not enough. Good ideas are not enough if you can't build on them to put in practice.

Ultimately what matters is what you do, how well you do it and the results thereof. That’s what you can associate with the change that people want to see, that people want to have. What I want to tell you is that there is another African person that made a comment, he is an academician, and talked of a relationship between a horse and its rider. I picked something from that comment; Rwandans either want to be horses or they want to be horse riders.

If you want to be a horse there will be many riders who will be competing to ride you, they will whip you and ride you here and there, that is a relationship that isn’t sustainable. It’s a relationship we Rwandans or Africans cannot afford, and cannot afford to accept. We kind of have been in those positions of horses, we must change that and be riders of horses and donkeys. We can’t have people riding on us, we are not donkeys. It can only come from you; our young people, students, innovators, people who are able to create something, who have skills to enable them do a job, people who want to express themselves based on these values that we must be identified with. Nothing short of that, and this can only come from the determination of every individual, family, society of us Rwandans as a nation.

There have been these discussions probably for too long, but it is our duty as young people or students to make sure that we become the change agents that we should be and are capable of being. We must have that determination, we must make that choice, we must be able to do it. We are capable of doing it, because we are talented as much as any other person on this earth, isn’t it? Yes! Why should you be a secondary citizen on this planet earth? why should you? Ask yourself that question. Always ask yourself that Question. Challenge yourself and each other as colleagues. When you are in class or a laboratory, ask yourself this question, is your choice to become a secondary citizens on Earth? That’s the difference between who some people are today; languishing in poverty, disease, despair and others who think they are ordained to rule over others and tell them what to do and what not to do, just because of that difference I'm talking about.

Young people, our future, you must not accept that, it doesn’t mean saying no, you must do something about it. It's not just about words, it's saying no through what you do that brings about that change, and who says it is simple. I'm not saying its simple, I'm only saying we are just capable of doing it, but we have to make the right choices, we have to do the right things, we have to understand the purpose of doing that.

We have to fight for every inch of our territory in terms of giving ourselves dignity, nobody will give it to us, if you are sitting and waiting for somebody to hand it to you, you will wait forever. Others can only assist you, but should be able to do so in the direction you have chosen yourself. If you want them to make that choice for you, they will not lead you into a direction you want but will lead you in an opposite direction.

Yet actually the aspirations of everyone wherever you go, the young people like you, the young students; whether in Rwanda, Asia, America, their aspirations are the same. No one wants to be a horse so that others ride on them, everyone wants to be a horse rider, everyone wants to compete, everyone wants to exercise their freedoms, everyone wants to use their talents to improve their lives and the societies they live in. Where we come from presents to us a very difficult situation, we have a problem to deal with the challenges we face, and you are made to deal with challenges that come from else where created by the imbalances that exist in the relations as we know them globally.

Someone wants to come here, a young person like you, or even older, from somewhere else where things are seemingly ok. Those that have achieved a higher level of development will come and start telling people what is good for them, why don’t you know what is good for you? Why should someone else tell you what is good for you? Do you wait for someone else to tell you what is good for you? No, but If you appear to be waiting for that, there is always someone going to come and show you what is good for you, that is actually not good for you, so it will be a shared mistake. It will be a mistake of you waiting to be told what is good for you. Certainly it starts with you, the other mistake is for others to assume that they always have to always have to tell others what is good for them. That’s why taking responsibility for yourselves is extremely important.

We must be responsible for ourselves, responsible for our development, we must share this responsibility as well. We must see each other as having responsibility for one another and later on as a nation we must have responsibility for ourselves, isn’t it? Yes! A while ago, you were taking about facebook, tweeter, other aspects of social media, everyday I go through it and see people; some of them don’t even know Rwanda, maybe they don’t even care to be there, to even know what is happening. We will always care to give lessons to Rwandans, I keep asking myself, should Rwandans be accepting this kind of thing? Some of them living thousands of miles from here who know nothing about us, keep saying; in Rwanda there is no freedom. That is another form of denying Rwandans their freedom. You are denying Rwandans their freedom to express themselves. Once they have expressed themselves why don’t you accept what they are telling you, why should you be the one to decide whether Rwandans have this or don’t have this, who
gave you that right?

You want to come here and decide for these thousands of people here what they have or don’t have, what is good for them and what is not good for them? Do you really want to accept that kind of situation? No, you must be able to decide what is good for you and what is not good for you. You must be able to resolve any problem or any challenge arising out of having differences of opinion, that will always exist in society, that’s fine, that’s what it should be. You should be able to look each other in the eyes and say you know what; you have this proposal and I have this, but lets agree how to move forward because we have a common interest in the wellbeing of this country. We all have a right to and share, but for somebody else to make a judgment about us from no where, who doesn't know anything about our culture, values? How this society is hurting because of our history part of which has been contributed to by external factors, the same people even like the rest in the world.
Our society may have certain imperfections we need to work on and improve, but I cannot have my own imperfections am working on improving to be better and move on, and then you bring your own imperfections and superimpose them on me and then I inherit mine and your imperfections. Nobody should accept this kind of situation. This is what we must resolve as young people aspiring to be leaders of our nation as leaders of tomorrow, infact leaders of today.

What you study in schools whichever background, is one big step, its very important but more important is how you use that for that purpose, more importantly how you build on the capacity you have built to contribute to the wellbeing of your people, society and nation and yourself. You may go to any school get any number of diplomas, that’s huge, important, but there is something more important waiting ahead and that’s is how are you going to sue this to improve yourself, your society and nation. How are you going to bring yours and his together for that purpose? This should constantly challenge you and must be always at the back of your mind. That’s how we will be able to move our country forward, we have no alternative, except if you have made a different choice that I wouldn’t understand.

If you have made a choice of being passive, waiting and hoping that somebody will rescue you and sympathize with you, you will be in a wrong place, that’s not a choice for a people who want to make a difference for themselves. So a legacy of self reliance is very important, you selected a good topic but I hope you understand the hard work.

It comes with a lot of hard work, that we must be able to undertake, no doubt about it, and we shouldn’t expect anyone else to be the one to undertake that hard work for us. It doesn’t work like that.

Why don’t I stop here. Thank you.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Expedite one varsity bill - minister

The Minister of  Education, Dr. Vincent Biruta has requested parliament to treat the bill that seeks to merge government-run universities as a matter of urgency.

Appearing before the House this week, Biruta said, if the bill is passed quickly, students and staff at the seven public universities will start the new academic year under a new setting.

Under the University of Rwanda, the traditional universities will change to colleges or schools.

The next academic year begins September 2013.

In the proposed structure, the University of Rwanda will be comprised of colleges, schools and departments not faculties as the case currently.

Biruta said the merger intends to ensure activities and attributions of higher institutions of learning are accomplished.

“One average the student population at these universities is 32 000…this is too small…we also need to remove duplication of programmes,” the minister added.

After the new university is created, the education minister shall cease to be the chancellor at the public university as the new institution shall have autonomy to appoint a chancellor of its choice.

Some lawmakers expressed anxiety over the merger saying it is likely to make the created university become like any other government department.

That the proposed law should give the university a good degree of autonomy.

“We merged government departments…what guarantee are you giving that we are not going to have issues like we had with Rwanda Development Board?” Emmanuel Gatera asked without elaborating what problems were encountered at RDB.

Emmanuel Mudidi who served as education minister and rector KIE said;

“What is being done is not new.  We had University of East Africa with colleges in member countries and it was doing very well,” he said.

However, he noted with concern that university teaching staff need to be regulated by a different law not the current public service act.

A university don who preferred not to be named said, “I think our universities are still young and they need time to grow and compete. The merger will not allow this to happen.”

“If we talk of colleges, we mean specialised colleges; say a college of medicine, agriculture…not geographical colleges,” Biruta told The New Times.

He said that specifically, the University of Rwanda will ensure the quality and relevance of undergraduate programmes; accelerate the development of post-graduate studies and achieve financial sustainability.

Public universities depend largely on government grants for their operational and development budget.

Some of the universities to be merged include NUR, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, School of Finance and Banking, Umutara Polytechnic, the ISAE, Kigali Institute of Education and  Kigali Institute of Health among others.

The New Times