By Grace Gatera & Moses Kirui
Graduation ceremony is an orchestrated process involving a march of students onto the stage, the reading of speeches, the giving of degrees, and of course - the commencement exercise, the official moment when the students are declared ‘graduated’.
It is one of the most important moments in a student’s life as it marks a transition from one stage in their educational life to another. Hence, the graduation ceremony at ULK- Main Campus on Tuesday 26th March, 2013, was a moment of recounting gains and rewarding accomplishments.
The graduation on Tuesday witnessed a total number of 1,797 graduands awarded various degrees in their respective areas of study.
Founded in 1996, ULK has risen in ranks thanks to its quality and academic excellence to become an education force to reckon with in Rwanda and in the region. The university continues to transform lives in all its areas of existence.
The President and Founder of ULK Prof. Dr. Balinda Rwigamba reiterated that the university will continue pursuing its dream of becoming a world class institution offering quality education and releasing reliable and responsible individuals who will meet the rising need of competent human resource to the economic market across the globe.
He appreciated the ULK fraternity for the tireless toil they put in to ensure that ULK becomes a true representation of quality in education.
Prof. Dr. Balinda Rwigamba said that in a recent survey undertaken by an independent firm, it was discovered that the university (ULK) has become a leading icon in the universities existing in Rwanda and asked the graduands to be job creators and not job seekers; starting their own enterprises and trust that they will succeed and uphold the ULK creed and belief.
“You must have a good work ethic, respect, humility, dignity and perseverance if you aspire to last in the commercial jungle out here. This will ensure your future is well catered for. If you do not have a goal you have no purpose and you will not get anywhere and that is why you should not waste time. You have to continue the legacy your predecessors started” Said Balinda
The guest of honour, Dr. Erasme Rwanamiza, the Head of Action Planning in the Ministry of Education thanked the University for the level of education it has spearheaded in the country, asking the investors coming into the country to invest in universities like ULK that have played a key role in the education sector of the country.
“It is good that there is a university that promotes education and reviews the competency of its lecturers. However, the marks of the students applying to the university should also be monitored so as to improve the quality of the education and those who receive it.” He said.
Outstanding performance and wholly giving to the society
Since its inception in 1996, to date ULK has had a total number of 17,020 graduates showing just how far the University has come from its humble beginnings to the present glory.
Recently a survey was conducted by Cope Consulting Ltd headed by MAKUZA Jean Marie Vianney, Managing Director, Chairman Rwanda Organization of Professional Consultants (ROPC) in order to assess the degree to which ULK has contributed to the development of the country, particularly through employment and entrepreneurship.
The survey involved providing information on locations and sectors (institutions, positions and addresses) where ULK graduates were working and these were some of the key findings:
The survey that covered the public sector (central and local governments), the Private sector (Manufacturing, Hotels, Agriculture, Mining, General trade, Banking, Transport, ICT, Justice, Education, Health, etc.) and the Civil Society (International Organisations, Local NGOs and others) revealed that ULK graduates were working in all the socio-economic sectors of the country.
In the Rwandan Public Sector, ULK graduates were found at all levels. At the central level, the study identified one hundred seventy seven (177) ULK alumni. ULK graduates were found at all levels including high decision making levels such as the Ministerial level, the Parliament level and others.
At the local government level, the survey identified one thousand one hundred twenty (1120) ULK graduates. Thirty percent (30%) of the total number of district mayors were ULK Graduates. The study also identified one thousand five hundred thirty five (1535) ULK graduates who were working in other public organizations (RSSB, RRA, RPPA, Post Office, Natural Resources Board, etc.)
In the Civil Society, the figures were also eloquent; the study identified respectively 100 and 620 ULK graduates, working in International organisations and local NGOs.
In the Private sector, the survey came out with impressive information. One thousand two hundred five (1205) ULK graduates were working in the leading banks and other financial institutions of Rwanda. In the Justice sector, three hundred five (305) lawyers (Advocates), representing 42% of the total number of the National Bar Association members, were ULK graduates.
This survey also identified one hundred fourteen (114) owners of big, small and medium enterprises. Most of them were found in the Chamber of young entrepreneurs. Their areas of business vary from classic ones like general trading, mining to new ones which were really innovative such as events management, films production, etc
Upholding that which is good and maintaining quality
One of the recipes of managing change by the university is through continuous improvement in whatever it does including the programme syllabuses in order to remain relevant to the ever changing demands of the market place .By closely aligning university education with the requirements of industry, ULK graduated students from relatively new departments; Accounting, Finance, Development Studies, and International Relations including the existing departments.
ULK does its best to get the best human resource in whatever they undertake as they try as hard as possible to align themselves to the trends taking place in the rest of the world.
In his speech the Rector of the University, Dr Ezekiel Sekibibi, lauded the graduands for their hard work in the past years that they studied.
“In essence, we are releasing into the market, Computer Software engineers, Accountants, Financial Managers and many other professionals. I would like to assure the market that, our graduands are highly trained professionals who will meet the needs of various sectors of the country’s economy,”
“We have worked tirelessly to incorporate science which entails Knowledge and Skills and conscience involving Ethical and moral Values.” he said
The Rector went on to point out the achievements the University had achieved in the past year. Among them included:
The approval by the Government of Rwanda of nine Master’s programmes: Finance, Accounting, Economics, Business Administration, Governance, Development Studies, Public International Law, International Economics and Business Law, and Internet System.
The Contribution of 113,000,000 Rwanda francs to Agaciro Development Fund.
The award received from RRA for being among the best taxes for social development. Last year alone ULK made a total payment of 788,900,215 Rwanda Francs to RRA for PAYE (Pay As You Earn ).
A total number of 327 Lecturers with different academic titles were hired in teaching, comprising of 2 Full Professors, 7 Associate Professors, 30 Associate Lecturers, 275 Lecturers, and 13 Assistant Lecturers and Related.
Research has been conducted, and some of our Lecturers published their books (Dean Habumugisha Titien, Academic Director Habimana Gabriel and Prof Nzabandora Joseph), four issues of the ULK scientific Journal have been released last year.
11 conferences of National, regional and international interests were held out. ULK also publishes a quarterly bulletin known as ULK/ Magazine, which has been issued 3 times in the last year 2012. A total number of 11,820 students enrolled in our University in both campus;
Offering high quality education is not possible without good facilities. In order to maintain a high level of training, the University has continued to expand its learning facilities. Last year, we managed to complete the Main seven floors building worth more than 7 Billion Rwanda Francs which is accommodating the nine master’s programmes which are being run now, Offices, Digital Library, Physical Library etc… Including the purchase of 500 brand new computers, and books etc. The total investment into facilities in Kigali Campus (Gisozi) is Rwf 22,708,910,290.
Human Building Capacities: On this Sekibibi said that ULK’s training is in line with the University strategic plan, which recognizes imparting new skills as a new way of empowering staff.
The University has continued to improve the quality of the human resources through offering training skills to members of staff to preparing them adequately for the modern dynamic environment in higher education. Twenty seven (27) of the ULK lecturers are pursuing their PhD programmes and many of them are far advanced and a total of 19 are doing their masters. Others have already finished because of the good system that ULK has put in place to facilitate lecturers to pursue their studies.
As far as Social Mission is concerned, The Rwigamba Balinda’s Foundation grants bursaries to students with no financial means. Since its creation in 2001 up to now, 2,839 students have been granted bursaries. This number doesn’t include 46 assistant lecturers who have been granted scholarship for postgraduate studies, and many other lecturers who finished their Ph.D. Programmes.