Located at the foot of the Virunga volcanic mountains, Integrated Polytechnic Regional College Musanze (IPRC Musanze) is playing an important role in training technical persons in Rwanda.
The college, constructed by Chinese enterprise China Geo-Engineering Corporation using funds from the Chinese government, is the largest polytechnic in northern Rwanda, said Emile Abayisenga, principal of IPRC Musanze and chairman of Musanze district council.
Covering an area of three hectares, IPRC Musanze situated in Musanze District has 1,200 students, the number of which increases from 170 at the beginning of its operation in 2015. Its first batch of around 170 graduates graduated in June this year with diploma. Besides, more than 700 students have completed short courses in the college.
The huge increase of the students within three years shows the school is really needed in Rwanda, said Abayisenga, who studied in China.
IPRC Musanze has the second highest number of applicants for admission among eight IPRCs across the country, after IPRC Kigali in Rwanda's capital, which has established for 10 years, according to him.
The college offers five advanced diploma and diploma programs including Agriculture and Food Processing, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Hospitality Management as well as Irrigation and Water Engineering, and provides 10 short courses such as carpentry, culinary arts and electrical domestic installation.
The programs provided in IPRC Musanze fall into the country's priorities, said the principal, noting that the college is contributing to developing skilled people and bridging the gap of shortages of technical people in Rwanda as the central African country is investing in technical schools.
"The support from the Chinese government is very significant, not only because of the students we train, but also surrounding community who benefit from this school," Abayisenga told Xinhua.
Residents from surrounding community get jobs in the college that has more than 100 staff and receive training of different skills like agriculture from the college, he said. They also get shelters constructed by students who learn construction, and cows from the college which are also used to teach students agriculture, he added.
Level three student Marcel Nyirimihigo majoring in irrigation and water engineering has completed his final project of designing a concrete gravity dam in Rwanda's Eastern Province to deal with water shortage during the dry season.
"Agriculture in Rwanda is like a foundation in our daily life. I want to modernize Rwanda's agriculture through irrigation and that's why we conclude to design that dam," said Nyirimihigo, who was helping his schoolmates do a final project at a workshop within the college.
Agriculture accounts for 33 percent of Rwanda's gross domestic product and engages 70 percent of the population, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
"This institution funded by China is important for us students. China put infrastructure that has helped and will help our study," he said.
Injecting new energy
The governments of China and Rwanda have signed an implementation agreement on the expansion project of the college. China will fund the expansion project and provide necessary equipment to IPRC Musanze.
The cooperation between China's Jinhua Polytechnic and IPRC Musanze also injects new energy into skill training in the landlocked country.
Jinhua Polytechnic in Zhejiang Province, eastern China, and IPRC Musanze jointly launched Jinhua Polytechnic's oversea campus in IPRC Musanze in July 2017, which includes a technical skills development center and a Chinese language learning center.
Two management staff from Jinhua Polytechnic has been working in IPRC Musanze since April 2018. They have completed research of labor marketing conditions in the region in order to making a cooperation plan in line with conditions of Rwanda and the college.
The Chinese polytechnic together with a Chinese enterprise have provided equipment to its Rwandan counterpart to support practical education of the college, and invited staff of IPRC Musanze to receive training in China, whose expenses will be fully covered by Jinhua Polytechnic.
It is not the only effort that Jinhua Polytechnic has made to help Rwanda cultivate technical persons. It has been providing scholarships to Rwandan students to study at Jinhua Polytechnic since 2014. As of April 2018, 78 Rwandan diploma students were studying at the polytechnic.
Denys Makuza came back Rwanda from China this July after completing study at Jinhua Polytechnic, where he studied vehicle inspection and repair for three years and Chinese language for one year.
"Studying in China indeed helps me a lot. I learned high level skills, Chinese language and Chinese culture, as well as working methods and efficiency of Chinese people," Makuza told Xinhua in fluent Chinese.