Dark cloud hangs over KIE’s long distance programme
The distance learning students at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) have complained of insufficient facilitation in the course of their studies claiming that this has negatively impacted on their studies.
The programme presently has a total of 2,200 students spread across 10 centres countrywide. As a procedure, students receive modules to revise at home before they meet with KIE facilitators at their respective centres once a month for in-depth learning and clarification.
The modules are developed by KIE lectures who are normally busy handling other tasks and this results in delays to hand out modules as well as other didactic materials to students on time
The students say the programme requires a lot of time and effort yet they have responsibilities as teachers. One of the students, Emmanuel Rukururu, says while the programme is opportune in furthering their academic credentials, they are discontented with the quality of teaching.
“It is difficult for us to study through the distance learning programme. KIE only furnishes us with modules and we end up spending too much time learning the course by ourselves. The facilitators want us to tell them what we didn’t understand instead of teaching,” laments Rukururu.
“If I take into account the issue of retakes, resultant delays, and the insufficient facilitation amongst other challenges, I doubt whether we shall graduate in December this year as earlier projected. For instance, we are yet to conduct our internship, which is normally in August.”
Another student who gave his name only as Batamuliza said, “When we study the modules and meet with the facilitator, his task is to help us comprehend the complicated aspects of the module. However, the problem arises when the whole module is incomprehensible especially for us studying sciences,” Batamuliza observes.
“We would rather request for more facilitation if they (lecturers) do not have time to teach. I would suggest that we go through the modules together with the lecturers once we meet before we take them (modules) home with us,” she proposes.
“Sometimes, one may fail not because of laziness or carelessness but because of the current set up of the course. We appreciate the initiative as a means to equip us with skills; but some of us have had to sit for retakes while others have dropped out.”
According to Justin Nsabimana, the head of department of distance training programme at KIE, the programme was introduced to enable former secondary students with A2 level of education to upgrade to at least an A1 level. The distance learning programme normally teaches sciences and languages.
Commenting on the complaints, Nsabimana faults the students, saying under normal circumstances, the programme does not necessitate facilitators.
“Normally, distance learning doesn’t need facilitators but we have opted to provide our students with some. In other countries, this is not the case,” says Nsabimana.
“If the students sit down and read instead of waiting for tutors or facilitators, they can obtain good results. They should therefore understand what distance learning is about and try to help themselves,” he advises..
Nsabimana, however, admits that the institution sometimes faces staff shortages, which sometimes affects students.
“The modules are developed by KIE lectures who are normally busy handling other tasks and this results in delays to hand out modules as well as other didactic materials to students on time,” he points out.
“We still have a few staff members to deal with the students adequately and the budget we requested for from the Ministry of Education is not what we receive,” he said.
Nsabimana further rubbishes claims that the institution is to blame for the high drop out rate registered in the programme.
“Those who decide to leave teaching to pursue other professions or join other universities constitute the dropouts,” he says. The current dropout rate is estimated at 12 percent.
Nsabimana says the institution has put in several measures to improve the programme.
“We are trying to help them understand the distance learning programme by providing them with information and induction programmes as well as providing them with enough supervisors, which is currently a handicap,” he states.
According to Prof. Wenceslas Nzabalirwa, the Vice Rector in charge of academic affairs at KIE, much efforts are being put to strengthen the programme.
“We have decided to provide services on time and avoid delays. The centres also need materials such as (science and language) laboratories, libraries and computer labs. We want to deal with all those issues and serve them (students) well,” he pledges.
The programme was introduced in 2001 as a pilot project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with an initial batch of 500 students before it was halted in 2006 only to resume in 2009.