For the last three years, the beginning of the year in Rwanda has always been marked with a leaders’ retreat and ending with a national dialogue. These are very important platforms for leaders and the Rwandan people in general.
The meetings are used to evaluate progress of the country and performance of individual sectors and departments among others, and also forge the way forward after exhaustive deliberations have been made in a transparent manner.
The kind of political environment can be equated to a kind of match review, where coaches and referees talk about the game and how it should have been handled by all the stakeholders for a more positive impact.
In this case the President, the Cabinet, the Parliament and other leaders all form the stakeholders. The coach even has all the powers and the right discernment to know who should be substituted for the team to win the.
He does this for the good of all the fans and supporters of the team. And, in most cases, victory or defeat has a bearing on the individual contribution, though the team spirit overrides all other factors.
It is against this background that I commend the annual conference of National Dialogue, for having pinpointed the many challenges and weaknesses that Rwanda faces as we usher in 2008. For sure, the list of these is long, but I will dedicate this space to the backlog in the education sector.
Since the issue of accreditation of universities came to the limelight several years ago, a number of concerns have been raised.
Many debates whether unaccredited universities should be closed or granted authority to operate have been awash in the media.
But, what many people have had an oversight of is the fact that the delay to solve the problem will leave serious and lasting scars on the process of human development and the economy in general.
Do the students who complete their ‘degrees’ and diplomas from such universities have a future?
It is possible that their future is dim. The essence of having set minimum standards by the ministry of Education is good. Quality education propels and is a pre-condition for development.
Officials in this formerly-crippled sector realised this fact long before they designed the minimum standards for accreditation.
However, what was swept under the carpet is the reluctance by the officials in the sector to explain to the public when the verdict of concerned universities will take place.
Why postpone the fate of these institutions at the cost of the Rwandans who study there?
It is no wonder that President Paul Kagame was visibly shocked during the National Dialogue conference last week when he learnt from the delegates that some universities were operating without accreditation for a long time.
He wondered how for 13 solid years, the problem of accreditation had failed to get solved, and whether surely there wasn’t a problem with the leadership in the ministry of Education.
A series of deadlines issued by the Education minister in the past have left no impact. You can choose to disagree with me, but the problem of accreditation of universities is one problem that has not received the deserved attention.
It is obvious that no single Rwandan will be comfortable having their children graduate from a university which is not recognised.
Do you expect the region, to which Rwanda subscribes to recognise the qualifications/degrees awarded by such universities?
Now, this becomes a double tragedy with the enlarged job market following Rwanda’s recent entry into the East African Community (EAC).
In this case, there is utterly nothing between zero and one. Opting for a compromising position, which Mineduc has practically preferred for the last many years, causes more adverse effects to the economy and individuals than closing the institutions.