Dons welcome ‘One University’ initiative
With the One University System slated for next academic year, several academic dons have hailed the policy saying it will go a long way in improving education standards in the country.
The one university scheme, initiated by the Ministry of Education, aims at combining all state-run higher institutions of learning into one university with different colleges, each specialising in specific fields of study.
The budget for setting up the new university is estimated at about Rwf 200 million in the first year. But after merging the institutions, the budget is expected to reduce.
As Dr. Niyomugabo Cyprien, Head of the Department of Languages and Linguistics at Kigali Institution of Education (KIE) puts it, there is an advantage in merging since the number of colleges will be small, leading to the reduction in running costs.
Zackary Bigirimana, Dean of Faculty of Community Health and Development at Kigali Health Institute (KHI), supports the idea of having one university system saying it will help more experienced professors and researchers model junior lecturers and students into better researchers and thus bridge the gap that exists between institutions in terms of quantity and quality of research output.
Currently, only one Rwandan university, the National University of Rwanda, is among the top 100 universities in Africa; ranked at number 44. Dr. Niyomugabo thinks that one strong university is better than dozens that are working individually.
“One individual university is very small and weak in terms of its research output. But if they merge, we get one powerful institution that has people coming from many different backgrounds who produce powerful research works.
From there, we will have an institution that ranks higher in Africa and the world, which will attract researchers and students from around the world”. Niyomugabo said.
Many colleges in Rwanda provide similar subjects on their curricula. Lecturers from different institutions work in isolation even though they may be providing the same content to their students.
Lecturers also move from one institution where they are permanent to another where they are visitors; the quality of content provided to those two institutions will not be the same. Mr. Bigirimana says that having one university would allow professors to share experiences and knowledge, and encourage positive competition amongst lecturers.
Niyomugabo agrees that having one university would bring thee lecturers in one place and encourage them to work collaboratively; something that would lead to a higher quality of education in those institutions.
“If put in an environment like that, lectures are also very likely to be more competitive”, Dr. Niyomugabo said.
Jean de Dieu Ntezirizaza, student in Engineering at KIST, believes that the One University system will help boost the quality of education because lecturers will be working together to deliver the best quality of education, and students will also have access to better pedagogical equipment from other institutions.
Pie Nsengiyumva, a student at KIE, thinks that having one university is a good idea since there would be sharing of resources like labs and lecturers.
“One would not have to leave Kigali and go to Butare, for example, in order to have access to a better lab”, Nsengiyumva said.
Mr. Bigirimana, agrees that some higher learning institutions experience a shortage in human and material resources, and that having one university would allow the under privileged institutions to have easy access to the same lecturers and equipment as the institutions with better resources.
Dr. Vincent Biruta, Education Minister, told the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and National Patrimony that the implementation of the system was going to be a process and that current students were not going to be affected.