Covid-19: What is the fate of Rwandans due for studies abroad?

Every year, between the months of August and September, hundreds of Rwandan students leave the country for studies in different countries.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has affected travel, it is certainly not going to be business as usual for Rwandan students that have to travel to foreign countries for study.

Every year between the months of August and September, hundreds of Rwandan students leave the country for studies in different countries.

 

The most popular ones include South Korea, the United Kingdom, China, and the United States.

 

Now, there is growing anxiety among the students and their parents about when they will return to school and some even concerned that they may lose their scholarships.

 

Schools abroad are coming up with various adjustments and policies as workarounds the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For instance, some academic institutions in the US have entirely switched the fall semester’s studies online; while others have chosen the hybrid option where physical classes will be available in addition to the virtual ones.

Enock Niyonkuru, is one of the students who is scheduled to travel to the US during in September.

Though his school will offer physical classes, he is not so certain of traveling in time for the beginning of the academic year in September due to visa issues.

The US embassy in Rwanda is currently not issuing student visas.

“If that persists (visa restrictions) until the course starts, then there will be two options: either to defer the semester and start in the spring season (January-March) or taking the course online,” he said.

Speaking to The New Times in an exclusive interview, Dr. Rose Mukankomeje the Executive Director of HEC said that if there occurs a scenario where students are not allowed to travel to their schools, they can take the option of e-learning where their schools have such facilities.

HEC is the institution in charge of government scholarships to foreign countries.

For countries like South Korea and China, schools that are going to host Rwandan students are yet to announce policies in regard to Covid-19.

So, it looks like not much has changed in regard to hosting students, however, with flights yet to return to those countries, there remains an uncertainty.

China-bound students are optimistic to travel in September, their South Korea-bound counterparts may travel mid-August; while students under the UK’s Chevening Scholarship Programme are also set to travel between September and October.

Mukankomeje said that HEC is in contact with countries that provide Rwanda with government scholarships, and none of has communicated to them in regard to the postponement.

hkuteesa@newtimesrwanda.com

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