The Ministry of Public Service has warned public institutions against hiring graduates from three private universities, saying that they are not yet ready for the job market. According to officials, these graduates will have to repeat some specific courses before they qualify as employable in public institutions, while those already in employment have been given a grace period of one year to do so. The universities are; the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) and the Catholic University of Rwanda (CUR) which are both based in Huye District, and the Uganda-based Cavendish University. The affected graduates are those who pursued the degree in education, some of whom are already teaching in different government schools. Rose Mukankomeje, Director General at the Higher Education Council said in an earlier interview that students at PIASS and CUR failed to complete the list of courses regarding program specifications that are required by her institution. In particular, she noted that students from the two local institutions did not complete academic internships which are a necessity to join the job market. In a letter shared with The New Times on Monday, January 18, the Minister of Public Service and Labor, Fanfan Rwanyindo Kayirangwa said that no public institution should hire graduates from these universities. “Graduates from the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences and the Catholic University of Rwanda (who are already working) should be given a one year grace period to complete the [required part of the] course or be suspended,” the letter reads. Henceforth, “no public institution should hire graduates from the two universities.” Besides the two universities, Mukankomeje pointed out that Cavendish University is not accredited in Rwanda, adding that qualifications from the institution cannot be accepted anywhere in the country. Alternatively, she called upon the affected students to enroll in local universities, citing that her institution has engaged universities that offer similar courses. Ordinarily, students who graduate from universities outside Rwanda, apply for recognition of their qualifications (equivalence) from HEC, before they can start working. While there is no official record of the total affected graduates, information from PIASS indicates that at least 900 graduates have been left stranded. However, according to Mukankomeje the move is part of the stringent measures that are imposed on all higher learning institutions and investors in the sector to ensure that the quality of education is not compromised. Students speak out A former student at PIASS who talked to this paper on condition of anonymity said that the decision has left the majority of his colleagues ‘unhappy’. “Frankly speaking, this is unfair for the graduates mainly, much as we understand the government wants to ensure that higher learning institutions don’t compromise quality of education.” He added, “There is no way out. We have to re-do the courses. It is very discouraging, especially when you had been working for a certain period of time.” University reacts Contacted for a comment, Mgr. Jean Marie Vianney Gahizi, the Rector of the Catholic University of Rwanda, noted that letter from the ministry was ‘confusing’, citing that his institution doesn’t provide intermediate certificate awards. “We don’t give such certificates to our students. Even when HEC carried out an inspection they found a different situation. We really don’t give that in our university.” When pressed for details, Gahizi explained that his institution offered recommendations (to whom) to their students in order to facilitate their internships. “What we did is to give recommendations to these students. They were not diplomas. These recommendations are just like transcripts to help students look for various opportunities like internships.” He added, “The same thing was witnessed by HEC officials who came to inspect the matter. They found out that we only facilitated our students with recommendations. But it is confusing to see that the letter talks about a different situation.” Gahizi pointed out that students at CUR are not affected by the decision. “None of our students is affected really. Because every student who is admitted to CUR is supposed to complete and graduate with a bachelor’s degree.” Efforts to get a comment from PIASS University were futile by press time.