It has been reported that the School of Finance and Banking (SFB) is experiencing challenges especially to do with the quality of education provided at the Institute. As part of a solution to this problem, there have been new changes within the top management of the institute where Dr. Papias Musafiri Maringa was appointed Vice Rector in charge of Academics. In an interview with The New Times’ Pelagie N.Mbabazi the Vice Rector now Acting Rector outlines his strategy for transforming this institution.
You have been appointed as the Vice Rector in charge of Academics but it is said that you are acting as the Rector. Does it mean that you are combining both functions?
The law governing education here in Rwanda stipulates that, the Rector should have two Vice Rectors that is; the Vice Rector in charge of Finance and Administration and other in charge of Academics.
It is by law that in the absence of the Rector, the Vice Rector in charge of Academics should be acting as the Rector until the Rector is appointed.
What is your background and experience as an academician?
I hold a Master’s degree in Business administration and a doctorate in Finance.
I have been actively involved in teaching, consultancy and research. Besides that, I have been an industrial liaison officer in charge of an interface program between Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) where I was stationed and the larger industry. My job entailed looking for placement for students.
I have also served in various positions at KIST particularly in the department of management which constitute SFB today.
After getting my doctorate degree I was moved to the national council of high education as a director of policies, planning and research and I served in this capacity up to when I was appointed at SFB.
Working with the institute that regulates education sector in this country has given me an opportunity to have experience how service delivery can be developed and fine tuned for an institution of higher learning like SFB.
What has been your first message to SFB staff?
One person is not able to turn everything around. I requested my team to build a teamwork spirit.
I wanted them to embrace the spirit of building a sense of professionalism among the academic staff for the purposes of building and reinforcing our institution to achieve better standards.
I appealed to them for the support to achieve the mandate that has been entrusted to me by the government.
What are the new initiatives that you are bringing to SFB?
I intend to develop a strategy to build quality assurance within academics at SFB. I am very keen to establish relevant policy structures and procedures to enhance the academic standards.
Along with this I intend to rally support to enable SFB to establish additional infrastructural facilities for the express purposes of boosting quality assurance standards. We will also look at having relevant committees for the purposes of implementing the set policies that are to be developed in line with the high education council recommendations and guidelines.
In doing all of these things I intend to seek the restoration of confidence. SFB suffered some sort of confidence crisis from the public regarding our academic standards.
Tell me more about restoration of lost public confidence in SFB
I don’t have a precise answer to give you today on that one. This is due to the fact that I have just entered office. However I must say that I intend to undertake a rapid assessment of the critical needs and requirements that warrants my urgent attention.
In this I intend to critically look at the programs we offer and to assess the relevance of such programmes to our society. For instance I want to assess whether what we offer can suit the needs of the business community.
There is an urgent need to assess the types of the resources that are available at SFB in order to implement the academic programs that are needed by the society.
In this light we have to critically asses the human resource capacities whether qualitative or quantitative for the purposes of analyzing the delivery of our services as well.
We will try to look at how the infrastructure at SFB can be improved. We will closely look at linkages with other sectors. Overall we will choose the best strategy to use in implementing the planned new goals and objectives.
There are some courses that were offered only to be changed or scrapped altogether and such changes seem to have affected the students. What is your comment on this issue?
The assessment that will be conducted will bring on the table what is needed to correct.
The situation actually addresses the relevance of our programs. In this correction exercise what is called unnecessary can be a stepping stone for one to deal with what can be known.
What do you have to say about concerns by some students who have questioned the nature of administering exams at SFB?
A team will be commissioned to do some investigation. If the findings show that there are leakages we will then attack the root causes.
For instance if we find out that lectures are complicit in the leakages then since this is against their ethical guideline and even their professional conduct harsh measures should be put in place to correct this situation. Those found complicit will face the full wrath of the law.
What are the challenges that you are expecting to meet as acting head of SFB?
The institute is growing faster than its resource base needed to support it. So for the purposes of ensuring the credibility of the graduates, I fore see that we have to bridge the shortage of resources to achieve our goals and objectives.
One way of solving this problem of the huge number of students learning under stretched resources, We ought to look at coming up with new revenue streams at SFB apart from just depending solely on the government to fund our programs. This in my view will be my main challenge.
Shortage of hostels affected student performance. What are your solutions?
Since students are in their holidays, we will do all we can to repair the hostels that we currently have that are in need of refurbishment.
To tackle shortages we will explore the possibility of acquiring external hostels that can accommodate the students when they comeback from their holidays as we wait for the buildings that we started to construct to be completed. If this is done properly then we will have solved this problem.
When is SFB expecting the new rector?
The government through the Ministry of Education will, in a timely manner institute the appropriate channels to get the Rector in the foreseeable future.
What was your perception after having received communication to the effect that you had been appointed to this post and what would you like to tell the readers?
I was so much excited when I received the message informing me of my new appointment. My message is that I would like to appeal to all stakeholders to work hard to make SBF a better place.