HUYE - President Paul Kagame has called on education institutions to emphasise quality education as the only way of producing a skilled and professional workforce, not only for the national labour market, but the international one too.
Addressing students and staff of the National University of Rwanda (NUR) gathered at the university stadium yesterday, President Kagame noted that the country still has a long way to go with regards to producing quality and competitive students capable of taking on the country’s challenges and also compete favourably with non-nationals.
Kagame, who was responding to concerns that have been raised about expatriates taking on jobs meant for Rwandans, said that not until universities and colleges develop the means of producing quality graduates, the country will be seeking people from other places who have the much-needed skills to cover the huge capacity gap the country is faced with.
“I was told that some of the graduates we have here cannot even express themselves or write a simple application letter.
This is a problem we need to accept that it is a reality and then we confront it head-on,” he said.
He gave an example of students sent to countries like South-Africa to further their studies, who have to go through an initiation process to catch up with the rest before starting the actual studies.
“If this is not a problem of quality then what is it? We need to first accept this as a problem and then we can look for solutions. Why do we pretend that all is well when it’s not?” Kagame asked.
The President noted that the feedback from the companies employing the graduates or the universities they go to for further studies indicates that the problem is rooted in the education system and the teachers themselves, because the students have the ability to learn and catch up with the rest.
He warned that the issue of incapable people getting jobs on the nationality card should not surface, adding that only those who are capable will be offered the jobs regardless of their nationality. He urged Rwandans to learn from the expatriates.
“Nationality should not be a cover up for incompetence and there is no issue of entitlement here.”
Kagame put to task administrators for them to seek urgent measures of ensuring quality education products to match the country’s development ambitions.
In a much inspiring lecture, the President reminded the academics that the country is faced with massive capacity gaps which can only be filled through hard work and shunning complacency if the country is to reclaim its place, adding that : ‘we should aspire to be the best we can be.’
During the interactive session, President Kagame promised students that the problems raised, especially regarding the delay of bursary money and lack of facilities would be dealt with forthwith.
The University’s Rector Prof. Silas Lwakabamba noted that the university is struggling to accommodate the growing number of students currently estimated at over 10,000 as the available structures constructed back in 1962 were meant to accommodate fewer students.
Despite shortfalls in facilities, Lwakabamba said that the institution has progressed well and for the last 15 years has produced over 10,000 graduates, a 10-fold of what it produced since independence.
He also requested for a pay rise for lectures.
First Lady honoured
Earlier in the day, the President and First Lady Jeanette Kagame had graced the celebrations to mark 50 years of the existence of Groupe Scolaire Notre Dame de la Providence de Karubanda.
The President hailed the founders of the school for their vision in promoting girl child education saying that educating a woman is educating a nation.
He said that the vision embraced today is that of educating all Rwandans regardless of their sex.
He commended the school administration and students for the cleanliness exhibited in the school, stressing that cleanliness is a culture that should be embraced by all people regardless of their economic standing.
During the celebrations, the First Lady who was the guest of honour was awarded a trophy in recognition for her efforts to promote girl child education.
Responding to a concern raised by the school’s Director Sr Goretti Mukarubayiza over the state of the school’s science laboratories, Kagame promised to equip them with these.
President Kagame pledged support for initiatives geared towards promoting education. He called upon students to be role models while at school and in their families.
The President called upon parents not to abdicate their role in bringing up their children under the guise of conforming to western culture of leaving children on their own after they attain a certain age.
The colourful Jubilee celebrations were attended by a host of senior government officials and the alumni of the school from Rwanda and Burundi.
The school was founded in 1956 by the Soeurs Auxilliatrices des Ames du Purgatoire.
It moved to its present premises in 1959. The school was founded mainly to train social workers. Since 2005, it has adopted the teaching of science subjects and other disciplines.