Government has given a three month ultimatum to Christian University of Rwanda (CHUR) to fix accumulated debts, largely stemming from arrears in staff salaries and other statutory obligations like income tax and remittances towards pension.
The warning is contained in a letter to the private varsity’s authorities, ordering them to fix the issues identified in an audit carried out by the Higher Education Council (HEC) which was done in June this year.
The assessment intended to investigate the claims of staff salary arrears and other debts as well as looking into the way the university is generally managed, and the overall operations of the institution with regards to the delivery of academic programmes.
“The owners and leadership of CHUR are urged to address the challenges identified in the assessment report. Specifically, the management of CHUR is requested to clear the outstanding debts within three months from the date of receipt of this report,” the letter dated July 25 and signed by Dr Eugene Mutimura, Minister of Education reads in part.
At the beginning of last month,The New Times carried an investigative story in which it came to light that some lecturers at the school had gone up to eight months without pay, which they said would eventually affect the quality of education they offer.
Speaking to The New Times on Tuesday, Dr. Emmanuel Muvunyi, the Executive Director of HEC said that the audit found the university grappling with arrears accrued from rent for the buildings that hosts both its campuses (Kigali and Karongi).
The university’s main campus (Kigali Campus) is located on the premises of the Catholic-run St Paul Pastoral Centre in Nyarugenge District just a short distance from Kigali’s Central Business District.
Their campus in Karongi District is in Karongi town right next to Kibuye District Hospital.
Muvunyi said that it was very important that the higher learning institution that is training Rwandans and other nationals, should strive to offer quality education that is in line with the rules and regulations prescribed under the law.
“But, when teachers are not paid, to begin with, they are not motivated, and they cannot teach properly, especially when they are not paid for a long time. That can [adversely] affect the quality of teaching in the long run,” Muvunyi said.
“If they [the university] don’t contribute to the staff’s social security, it is not only illegal but also not motivating,” Muvunyi said adding that staff has the right to have contributions made to the pension scheme so that they get ensured of better welfare in old age [during retirement].
Among other recommendations to the university by the report was to building its financial capability and build the capacity of teachers, improving teaching methodology, research and foster institutional partnership with different stakeholders to improve quality of education.
“That is why we have asked that the proprietors to address these issues in short time possible. If they do not do as requested, certainly we are going to act by taking more stringent measures,” Muvunyi said.
Efforts to contact the university’s proprietor, Prof. Pierre-Damien Habumuremyi were futile by press time.
However, during a previous interview, he said that activities at the university were being hampered by a high operational cost, which he says outweighs the income they get in terms of fees from the students.
The varsity has at least 2,000 and each pays Rwf400,000 in school fees annually of which, he said, at least 60 per cent of students pay more regularly.
With 60 members of the staff it pays at least Rwf20 million in staff salaries and spends an Rwf20 million on rent as well as Rwf10 million in other operational expenses, he revealed.