Participants hail government’s efforts in promoting sciences

Students in a science lab. Net photo.

Last week, over 9,968 students received government scholarships and a higher percentage of them were those who pursued STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies.

Statistics released by the Higher Education Council (HEC) after the announcement of the scholarships indicate that at least 64.4 per cent of the students who qualified for government scholarships for the academic year 2019- 2020 will pursue STEM courses.

The move was lauded by stakeholders and students as well for promoting sciences.

Speaking to The New Times, Fabien Habimana, the director of Science Technology, Innovation and Research at the Ministry of Education, said that availing such incentives encourages more students to embrace STEM.

“The provision of more scholarships to the best-performing girls and boys will also attract more students to STEM at tertiary level,” he said.

A primary student attends a kids STEM training in Kigali. Edwin Ashimwe..

And in a bid to encourage more students to opt for STEM subjects, Habimana said plans are underway to encourage more students to join this field right from lower primary school level.

Currently, the ratio of STEM students is 58.7 per cent for those in upper secondary schools.

For Enoch Niyonkuru, one of the sponsorship recipients, told The New Times that providing more sponsorship programmes to STEM students will motivate them to be more innovative and creative in the technology sector, thus support the country’s vision of becoming an innovative hub for the entire region.

He also pointed out that studying STEM-related subjects can broaden the horizons of a student’s thinking capacity.

“If you learn to think in a scientific way, you will in the long run learn how the techniques of trial and error. STEM will give you the key in solving problems creatively, seeking the truth, questioning things and the urge to explore more about how things work.”

As students, we should learn these things, Niyonkuru added.

For Vanessa Gakuba Rutazibizwa, who will be joining University of Rwanda’s School of Medicine, technology is the future, adding that students should be proud to be in a country that embraces technology. It is only then that they will be assured of a bright future.

“How exciting it is to be in a country where the political vision embraces technology for young Rwandans, especially students?” she asks. 

Noting that with this opportunity, STEM students should grasp it with an innovative approach that will pave way for a new golden age of technology.

She also says that in order to be a good scientist, you need to be creative and imaginative. And while the arts are often set aside as ‘not that important’ for children, it is a great thing to know that by learning STEM, a child also practices these aspects of their thinking.

Contacted for a comment, Melissa Rusanganwa, the public relations head at Zipline, challenged the youth to take advantage of the opportunities that the country has offered.

She said, “Everything starts with the right mind-set and the right education. Some opportunities were not there in the last five years, but each student should take a personal initiative to invest in this opportunity so that when chances come they are all eligible.”

On the other hand, Rusanganwa said that it was up to the youth on a global scale to seek new opportunities and challenge themselves to build a better and innovative future. 

IT expert and university student, Minani Olivier, hails the government’s support towards venturing into the STEM discipline.

He says, “This shows that the government believes in the young generation, are tech-oriented and we should not be deterred by any failures we face, rather, aim at shaping a bright and innovative future for the country.”

He adds that STEM education must be fun and simple.

He says it should also be multidisciplinary, incorporating other skills and geared towards all students, so that students can enjoy the learning.

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