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Monday, October 1, 2012

High hostel fees at universities

If someone took a random survey and asked about 20 students from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) where they stayed, eight of them would say Kimironko and other distant places like Kicukiro and Kibagabaga. Unless one is lucky enough to get a house in Nyamirambo, a Kigali suburb close to KIST, they will have to face a long commute to school. 

With only one hostel at the institution, the rest of the students have to find a way of making it in and out of school in time. 

According to the management, the institution can only accommodate 450 female and male students with special cases. These special cases include, for example Genocide survivors with no relatives, foreign students, disabled students, leaders of students’ associations, the majority of first year female students, final year students and people with different illnesses.

Clarisse Bisangwa is a second year student at KIST. She says that many hostels, mostly in Nyamirambo, are bad options for girls. 

“I live in Kanombe, close to Kanombe Military Hospital and commuting takes me two hours as the biggest problem is traffic jam and the hassle of getting a taxi. I decided to look for a nearby house to save money.”

“I got a house broker and looked for a good house but all in vain. All the houses that were available were in strange places that didn’t look safe - more so for a girl. I had no option but to commute. I wake up at 5:30am in order to be in class on time. In the evenings, I wait for a taxi for close to 2 hours,” she said.

Apart from the lucky few who reside in places close to the University, the rest have to rent a house. 

Denise Kabengera, another  student at KIST, resides in one of the houses in Biryogo- Nyamirambo.

“I’m from Kabuga and commuting is not an option. I was lucky to get a house with three other friends and so we pay Rwf 40,000 monthly. It’s not the most secure place as we stay in an open place and have idle neighbours who drink alcohol every night, ,” he said.

With this problem choking KIST, the officials of the institution are fighting tooth and nail to see that the education atmosphere improves for students with emphasis on accommodation. They have come up with a campaign to fundraise and build a Rwf 1.8 billion hostel. 

The Rector, Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, said lack of accommodation has caused a decline in many students’ studies, especially females.

“There is a shortage of students’ accommodation facilities. Day students are forced to rent private accommodation. This is indeed a barrier to the desired academic atmosphere, and poses a great challenge that needs to be addressed if KIST is to continue attracting more female students to pursue science courses,” she said.

She, however, expressed optimism saying that since Kigali is a fast growing city, more hostels will be constructed. She observed that once the hostel is in place, it would facilitate these students and improve their attitude towards studies.

Mujawamariya said the institution’s kitty is only Rwf 400 million and wants to raise the rest from well-wishers. 

However according to the President of the Real Estate Association of Rwanda (REAR), Charles Haba, as much as everyone would like to solve this accommodation problem, hostels are not an attractive business investment.

“Judging from the majority of students who don’t pay to stay in hostels, the hostels would be white elephants and this is in no way a good thing for investors,” he said.

Source: The New Times

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