EDITORIAL: Internship stipends need not give UR a headache

A few years ago, White Collar and Blue Collar jobs were everyday expressions in the media to describe the capitalist divide in labour. The latter was doing all the hard manual jobs; factory workers, drivers, and mechanics, name any trade apart from pushing the pen from behind an office desk.

Today, in the age of cutting edge technology, working with one’s hands is no longer frowned upon, in fact, in most cases, technicians are game changers.

Many western economies have apprentice programmes; young people who fall on the wayside unable to continue with the mainstream education are given basic technical education and start work, from the bottom of the ladder.

What this kind of programme does is to expose the young person to a work environment and they also learn on the job. 20 years later they are the backbone of manufacturing. The same for those who completed conventional education, they are put on industrial attachments to learn the practicals.

The latter gives the same experience as internships which, unfortunately, the University of Rwanda (UR) suspended four years ago citing financial constraints because interns needed stipends.

Now it wants to reinstate them again but on a smaller scale, to a few select needy students in priority fields. The university could do better than that if it involved the public sector as well as the organisations where the students will intern

Definitely, when the students are on attachment they are contributing to production. Why can’t education stakeholders strike agreements so that the companies and organisations can contribute something to the interns’ upkeep?

The Rwf35,000 stipend students receive is something nearly every company can afford. What other Private Public Partnership would beat that?

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