Providing hands-on demand-driven skills for a technology-led economy

Rwanda’s vision 2020 aims at creating a knowledge-based and technology –led economy with priority in human resources development in the fields of science and technology.

BY SHARON KANTENGWA

Rwanda’s vision 2020 aims at creating a knowledge-based and technology –led economy with priority in human resources development in the fields of science and technology.

It is in this regard that IPRC North, Tumba College of Technology’s (TCT) mission is to train and equip learners with skills and release to the market a competent breed of technicians, relevant to the industrial and social needs. Established in 2007, Tumba College of Technology and its partners underlined the need to upgrade the college programmes to produce qualified graduates who meet the current standards of advanced technology and can compete ably on the national and international levels.

“We have significantly contributed to the development of skills among the young people in Rwanda, who are in turn contributing to the national development in technical education. Being a model institution that the Government of Rwanda is supporting in collaboration with development partners such as JICA, we have been able to put in place training equipment. We are one of the institutions with the best training equipment and trainers that contribute to competitiveness of our graduates, earning appropriate skills and meet the requirements of the labour market” says Eng. Pascal Gatabazi, the TCT principal.

The college started with 150 students but will enrol 800 students in September this year. According to Gatabazi, it’s one of the institution’s initiative to recruit young graduates and give them intensive training so that they can be able to train others.

“I believe that we are building capacity in terms of training trainers which adds value to the quality of the graduates. We are making steps into adding value into people to liberate themselves and others. We have improved our infrastructure and we are connecting with other institutions, community and the private sector,” he says.

Nevertheless, in order to measure the performance of the graduates, the college conducts two types of surveys every year.

“Through these surveys we find that 75% of the graduates have a destination. We define our destination as full time employment, those who create their own employment, and those who go for further studies. The employers’ satisfaction survey helps us to find out how satisfied they are from those who work for them and the survey indicates that 90% of the employers are satisfied,” says Gatabazi.

Centre of Excellence

Through their practical-oriented curriculum, a strong relationship with stakeholders and teachers’ training, the institution is one of the few centres in Rwanda, registered as the East African Centre for Excellence and will soon be having students and staff exchange programs.

It is the only institution in Rwanda given a mandate by govt to do computer recycling. The refurbishment initiative is in response to the current need for ICT tools and giving back to the community.

“80 per cent of computers which are collected from various institutions in the country are refurbished and still have a warrant to operate properly for a long time,” the principal says.

Energy sector is an important pillar for the country to develop, and TCT is taking the initiative to work on sources of energy by training local people to make briquettes, which are small household projects.

“The government is encouraging Made in Rwanda products and we are tapping into that. We are making other science kits in our telecom department and we are negotiating with the minister of education so we can venture into mass production of those science kits. We have made solar water heaters to install in health centres in partnership with district leaders to begin in rural areas,” he says

The Government of Rwanda is considering technical education as a priority and as an engine to drive the transformation in this country. The innovation day that is to be conducted every year is a move to showcase the TCT’s innovations.

“We are training students in computer science as Rwanda positions itself as an IT hub in the region and believe that we are instilling in the students the right skills. We would like to see us engaging our partners in expanding this institution to scale up our impact in the system,” Gatabazi says.

Being a practically inclined institution, efforts of TCT through the department are geared towards application of research findings. In this regard the institution puts more emphasis in applied research to be more technical to give solutions to community.

“In the near future, we’ll be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Jomo Kenyatta University, Kenya, to partner in research. We are contributing to the national transformation of our country by giving value and skills to our students and we shall do whatever it takes to add value and build our system which makes us liberated by being self reliant,” says Gatabazi.

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