The higher education sector needs thorough transformation if it is to play a greater role in the national development, the Minister for Education, Dr Vincent Biruta, has said.
He made the remarks yesterday while officiating at the graduation ceremony of over 2,600 students at the National University of Rwanda.
The two-day graduation ends today.
The minister observed that higher education is very critical to the nation’s socio-economic transformation and the realisation of Vision 2020 and the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction (EDPRS).
The Vision 2020 is a long-term development plan which seeks to uplift Rwandans out of poverty and give the country middle-income status by the year 2020.
“There is need to expand the higher education sector to increase enrolment and improve on skills,” Biruta said.
He noted that a number of reforms are currently underway to transform the sector and improve on the quality of higher education.
Biruta singled out the policy on tertiary education financing and the establishment of one public University among the major reforms currently being implemented.
“The new policy on tertiary education financing aims at increasing access to tertiary education but also to ensure that parents and guardians own the responsibility of investing in their children’s education,” the minister explained, emphasising that government will continue to support infrastructure development, equipment and capacity building for staff to ensure quality of education.
Another development, Biruta said, is the upcoming University of Rwanda which should come into force in the 2013/2014 academic year.
According to Biruta, the merger aims at developing “a credible world class university, eliminating duplications of courses [and] ensuring improved quality and standards in teaching, learning and research.”
“This [merger] will demand the academic staff to do more research [and] change teaching styles; students will be required to work more to attain an admission [at the university] and also do more in learning [while] the management will be required to adopt an entrepreneurial university style and maintain high standards and quality,” Biruta said.
Advice to graduates
The minister commended the National University of Rwanda for its contribution to building the country since its establishment 50 years ago and hailed the role of the private sector and development partners in developing the higher education sector.
Students pursuing university studies grew from only 3,200 in 1996 to over 7,600 in 2012.
The minister told the fresh graduates that the country awaits their contribution to development.
“The whole nation counts on you to put to good use the “skills, competences and knowledge you have acquired,” he said.
“The intellectual capital you have today should enable you to be a solution to your country’s challenges rather than being part of problems,” he said.
He noted that to be useful to the country they will need “to keep high standards of values and discipline.”
The NUR acting Rector, Professor Manasseh Mbonye, told the graduates: “There is need to part with the belief that the government will employ you. It is, thus advisable that you explore the chances of entrepreneurship and innovation so that you create your own jobs.”