Top officials hailed the University of Rwanda (UR) for achievements registered over the past five years after the merger of several public universities.
They were attending the graduation ceremony of 7050 graduates at a colourful event that took place in the Huye Stadium in the Southern Province.
They include 6,540 who graduated in different bachelor’s degree programmes, 510 in post graduate and one who went away with a PHD.
PM Edouard Ngirente delivers a speech during the 5th graduation ceremony of University of Rwanda. Courtesy.
Speaking at the event, the Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente hailed the University of Rwanda, which, despite it being as young as five years old has registered many achievements.
“It is through your joint efforts that you were able to provide the necessary support, guidance, mentorship and training to our students,” he said
He said that five years ago since the government decided to merge all public higher learning institutions to form the University of Rwanda, the institution had registered a lot of progress but insisted challenges still remain.
“I want to congratulate the leadership of the University of Rwanda, I commend your efforts and sacrifice that culminates to this great day, the University of Rwanda plays a key role in the country development through advanced knowledge and skills needed for our labour market,” he said.
“The government of Rwanda is always committed to supporting UR to excel in teaching and improving research led programme, this will make the University of Rwanda a research led university that contributes to finding solutions to local, national, regional and global development challenges,” he added
The premier told the gathering that the National Strategic 2017-24, the country has committed to quality education to lead the country’s ambition to become a knowledge-based economy
He said that following the special taskforce that assessed challenges the institution was faced with and the possible solutions, the government of Rwanda set up a new financing model that seeks to ensure long term financial stability by addressing weaknesses in the previous model.
The government he said also took measures to ensure that academic and administrative staff is paid on time, granted scholarships to staff for post graduate trainings, particularly PHDs.
“To ensure the students’ welfare, the allowance given to students was increased from Rwf25,000 to Rwf35,000. The amount will be increased depending on available government resources,” he said
Mechanisms were in place to ensure that internships and industrial attachments are enhanced to impart students and graduates enough skills required to the labour market, according to the premier.
He challenged the university to take advantage in the recently established research and innovation fund, which the government injected an initial allocation of Rwf500 million.
The fund, which the premier said would progressively increase, gives priority to sectors such as energy, transport, ICT, water management among others.
Prof. Philip Cotton, the Vice chancellor, urged the students to be humble and work hard to ensure that they serve the public to their best to become more productive.
“Humility means you are never ever consider yourselves better than people you will serve and you will never ever believe that the world is centred around you; you need to work hard, be courageous and bright,” he told the graduates
Cotton said the University of Rwanda was celebrating a lot of achievements including the merger itself and the quality education and research registered so far.
“We are celebrating many things; we are celebrating the merger, there are reasons that were behind the merger, we are recognised as university by the alliance of research intensive universities, we are number two in research publications in Africa,” he said
“We celebrate positive engagement with government institutions and agencies, including higher education council among others, and we graduated PHDs while hundreds of others graduated masters,” he added.
Towards students welfare, more quality
“The focus is on students’ welfare, teaching and learning and research. We’ve got very well organised in terms of research, we have to do a lot of work around fundraising, income generation, setting up businesses in a robust way, and do more work around consultancy. We have to develop short courses and much more innovative exciting undergraduate and master’s programmes,” Cotton said.
Other areas to focus on would be biomedical and pharmaceutical sector, leadership and governance programmes among others, he said.
Students speak out
Frank Mugabo who spoke on behalf of graduates thanked the University of Rwanda for having accompanied them throughout the period and stressed that the skills and knowledge they had acquired will be put into good use.
“It is our conviction that our success stem from good leadership and guidance, our joy today is a result of hard work of our parents, teachers, and the country. We may never be able to thank you a lot but we can promise that we shall use our knowledge and skills to transform the nation,” said Mugabo.