Umushyikirano 2019: Six things that Rwandans want discussed

Delegates follow a panel discussion during Umushyikirano at Kigali Convention Centre last year. Photo: Village Urugwiro.

From December 19-20, Rwandans will converge at the Kigali Convention Centre for the annual National Dialogue, commonly known as Umushyikirano, to discuss the most pressing issues affecting the country.

Last year, Umushyikirano discussed the partnerships for growth, preserving memory and upholding values and building a saving culture in Rwanda.

 

Provided for under the Rwandan constitution, Umushyikirano is attended by central and local government officials, representatives of the Diaspora, the private sector, civil society, and diplomats, among others.

 

During the two-day meeting, Rwandans directly engage leaders about the country’s challenges and opportunities.

 

The event is broadcast live on public radio and TV as well as streamed online with slots for call-in sessions.

Ahead of this year’s edition, The New Times through its social media platforms and direct interviews, gathered views from a cross-section of Rwandans who weighed in on the issues they want discussed.

1. Education

If there is the one sector that most respondents wanted tackled during Umushyikirano, it is education.

This is not surprising. The sector, particularly, the Ministry of Education has recently been under pressure for what many parents and students say are sudden and drastic changes.

For instance, the ministry recently came under fire when it flip-flopped on the policy to have Kinyarwanda as the language of instruction from Primary One to Three.

In January this year, the ministry announced that while a student would previously join either boarding school or twelve year’s basic education, based on their grades, the system was changing and the ministry allocated students (random placement) to different schools without revealing their grades.

READ ALSO; Schools defy policy on using Kinyarwanda as medium of instruction

Christian Shema, used twitter, says that education needs to be ‘cleaned up’, and should go beyond making changes based on social media pressure.

“When it comes to changes in education, you need analysis, thorough scrutiny and how change aligns with consistency in broader national policies. Our children should not be victims,” he says.

Gilbert Rukundo another twitter user also wants the education sector to be discussed, advising the need for thoroughness before changes are made.

“Education policies need not to change day in day out. Before a policy is penned on, extensive research should be carried out. Go to different countries that have tried such a policy before, relate it with your country’s vision,” he suggests.

2. Agriculture

The Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Civil Society Platform; John Bosco Nyemazi told The New Times that one of the areas of agriculture that should be discussed is insurance and finance for the sector.

“While the country’s biggest population is involved in agriculture, agriculture insurance and access to finance mechanism remain a big challenge especially when farmers are seeking loans. When you have insurance, it is easy to access loans so we need to look into how they can access this,” he said in an interview.

3. Youth employment

Nyemazi also explains there is need to set up incubation centers for enterprise development.

Incubators are usually used for a collaborative environment designed to help new startups succeed.

“If you are talking about creating more jobs for young people, we need to know in which areas. We need these centres where young people’s ideas go through so that we can reap more from them,” he said, adding that leaders should find time to tackle this as well.

4.Teen pregnancies and access to contraceptives

The issue of teenage pregnancies has been one of the most dominating topics in the news and social media platforms at least for the last two years.

Available statistics indicate that Rwanda registered 17,000 teenage pregnancies in 2016 alone.

Grace Gasana is the Programs Director at USAID- Farmer to Farmer Program. She says that there is need to look into teenage pregnancies that continue to be challenge.

“We need to table this (at Umushyikirano) as one of the critical issues because we need comprehensive teen pregnancies awareness programs,” she said.

Silas Muhire says that there is need to dig deep into family planning issues that are being pushed by religious and cultural beliefs.

READ ALSO; The daunting effects of teenage pregnancy

“More and more poor families are having children that they are not able to provide with adequate and sometimes basic needs. I think it is time government looked at this as a serious issue since it is at the core of what kind of country we will have in future,” he said.

5. Land related issues

Jean Baptiste Nsengumuremyi says that he would like the complicated issues surrounding land tabled and dealt.

“This year’s Umushyikirano would be great if they were to table and make concrete resolutions on matters related to land laws. Why would one go through the notary to buy land but is subjected to moving up and down because later it has been discovered that the land has issues,?” he wondered.

In his 2018/2019 the Ombudsman indicates that of all the cases that his office receives, the biggest chunk of them are land-related.

Of the 1,091 cases filed with the Ombudsman requesting retrial on the basis of unfairness, 851 were civil lawsuits, mostly which are land-related.

A report by the Centre for Public Impact published in 2017 indicates that by June 2017, 7.16 million landowners had collected their titles.

6. Service delivery

For Robert Murenzi, the issue of service delivery in both public and private entities needs to be discussed.

“Service delivery is questionable either in public or private institutions. That’s why nowadays people prefer to tweet their issues instead of going through normal administrative procedures. Some measures need to be taken,” he said.

Dominique Ndagijimana also used twitter to state that service delivery in terms of public transport needs to be reviewed by those at Umushyikirano.

“The transport issue which causes delays of passengers especially in Kigali should be addressed. There is need to allow competition in the transport service sector,” he suggested.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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