For the last 10 years, I have been employed in higher education, which gives me some experience and knowledge to share the consequences of corrupt assessments.
Rwanda aspires to become a knowledge-based economy which can only be achieved if the country has a well-trained, disciplined, hard-working, visionary and patriotic workforce fit for the purpose. Thus, anyone can easily imagine what would happen if an institution, for example, the University of Rwanda, failed its mandate and got consumed by corrupt assessment.
As an educationist, allow me talk about corrupt settings in some institutions. First, teaching and learning should be meant for knowledge creation and construction, and lecturers remain the facilitators of that process. Sadly, you will realise that we have turned our learners into photocopying machines, where the best students are crammers.
This is not knowledge creation, rather, it is ‘information storage’ which cannot enable our students/learners to grow into knowledgeable and confident graduates.
Also, people in the education sector at whatever level (nursery, primary, secondary and university) should do their work mindful that it is all about the future of this nation. Otherwise, we will find that we worked hard but are still lacking strong and well-disciplined youth to preserve and improve what we have constructed, as a nation rebuilt from ashes.
Universities should be careful while handling corruption cases because both students and staff have a role to play. There are staff who are corrupt and this needs to be fixed. Students, most especially girls, should be mentored and guided accordingly. They should dress well in order not to distract their lecturers and male colleagues in a classroom setting. Also, allow me to emphasise the consequences of sex-related corruption because it is the most dominant and its consequences are detrimental. If a female student engages in sexual malpractice, she will turn out to be ‘very weak minded’ and this will go on in the workplace. Since she relied on sexual favours to get through school, she will find it hard to abstain from this practice at the workplace.
A male graduate who passed his courses courtesy of financial corruption cannot lead an institution or enterprise. He will most likely embezzle funds as a person heading a dwindling institution.
Rwanda is a booming economy where institutions like the Office of the Auditor General, Rwanda Revenue Authority, Rwanda Investigation Bureau, and the Ombudsman, should enforce justice. There should be zero tolerance for a mature person caught sexually or financially corrupting education assessments, because this is poisoning the future of the nation.
Any involvement of line managers, staff or students in covering up wrongdoings should also be taken as a serious offence punishable by the law.
I encourage girls to stay strong, be confident, work hard and rely on their brains. They are as strong as men and can do even better if they put their minds to it.
It will give you pleasure and honour to occupy a position because you earned it fair and square. Let’s not disappoint our inspirational leaders who firmly believe that a nation can only develop if both female and male citizens are equally involved in all sectors and processes of development.
Rwanda will only make it to a knowledge-based economy if our education system, public and private, is reliable and independent enough to train graduates fit for the purpose, full of knowledge and practical skills.
However, core subjects alone cannot help our graduates succeed in the fast changing world. The acquired knowledge should be laid on a strong foundation of professional ethics, cultural values ad essential skills such as, critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, and communication and health literacy, among others.
Strong and sustainable measures need to be put in place and enforced. Holding academic qualification is one thing, and ability to value that qualification is another.
The author works with the University of Rwanda as Advisor to College Principals.