This year’s Webometrics ranking, placed the National University of Rwanda (NUR) 30th among African Universities.
This is an impressive leap from position 44 in the previous year described as “the region’s most improved university in this year’s ranking”. KIST is the only other Rwandan institution that appears in the top 100 in position 98.
That NUR on January 20, this year joined the league of Commonwealth greats by establishing cooperation with Imperial College London is an indicator of the vision of the university. Cooperation with world class universities like Imperial College will enhance the university programs especially postgraduate level teaching and research.
Cooperation will ensure peer collaboration in research and teaching amongst Rwandan academics and their counterparts from other Commonwealth universities.
In collaboration, the two institutions are set to work together towards “strengthening Research capacity, bringing supervisors to assist postgraduates students” registered for Masters and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering and Epidemiology.
In partnership with NUR School of Public Health, Imperial College will strengthen capacity to explore the areas of epidemiology and communicable diseases. NUR deserves a bouquet for the ties it has established with members of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), which is open to all institutions of higher learning in Rwanda, the 54th member of the group.
The university plays a visible role in national development. Besides offering a range of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level,s research in scientific field and social sciences in the last few years is evident.
For example Centre for Conflict Management has contributed significantly to national and regional debates, and is now offering MA in genocide studies.
Research in development and democracy is ongoing under the auspices of East African Political Science association, with a strong presence of NUR academics.
NUR should continue to scale the heights of excellence and provide a world class university so that our youth gain the best education at home at affordable cost instead of seeking such opportunities abroad.
Some parents and their children have fallen prey to impressive media adverts by fake colleges abroad. The recent revelation by British Immigration Services of such bogus colleges was shocking.
Over 100 such institutions were raided in Britain and after establishing they did not meet the required standards, were closed, and many foreign students were affected.
Our institutions should try to attain high standards and diversify courses especially at undergraduate level to cater for national manpower requirements because the human resource is available. This can be achieved through empowering staff and providing basic facilities.
NUR is` doing well in that direction through an elaborate staff development programme. Last a month I met four members of NUR Library staff pursuing a degree course in Library and Information Science at a Kenyan University.
Library services are central to educational institutions, and libraries to serve their purpose must be manned by qualified staff. Albert Camus, the renowned existentialist writer said, “All manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books.
The true university of these days is a collection of books.” The observation by Camus goes a long way to qualify NUR for a bouquet for empowering librarians. The librarians mentioned above, obtained diplomas in Library and Information Science at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) but the course has been phased out (or suspended) despite that fact that the course attracted many applicants and infrastructure for the course were in place.
This earns KIE a. barb. With the infrastructure available for the diploma course, it would have been relatively easy to introduce the coveted degree course.
It should be noted that universities in East Africa with established schools of Library and Information Science, where even PhD programs are offered, notably Makerere and Moi University, diploma courses are still offered, sometimes by their affiliate colleges.
This is logical because institutional hierarchies require staff of various categories. The national quest for establishment of library services country wide would be well served if KIE reconsidered their decision.
As we join regional and international communities, we should seriously consider our contribution to the labour markets at all levels.
The ministries concerned could reexamine national training strategies and direct more resources and emphasis on middle level colleges.
These colleges if well conceived would provide required skilled personnel in various sectors such as, computer science, laboratory technology, business administration, telecommunication, early childhood education, animal health and production, engineering, hospitality and tourism etc.
To ensure acceptable standards, students at certificate and diploma levels have to sit exams by Rwanda National Examinations Council.
Lastly the East African Legislative Assembly decision to form a certification body for institutions of higher learning in the region is welcome(see. The`East African,22-28). It reinforces Hon Mujawamariya’s crusade to avert substandard education in Rwanda two years ago.
When legally instituted, the body will grant universities which meet the standards regional status. Healthy competition!