President Paul Kagame, yesterday, told students at the University of Rwanda-College of Arts and Social Sciences to use the knowledge they acquire to transform the country and lives of its citizens.
The President was addressing university students and residents of Huye District during his visit to the area.
“An education that does not transform your life or the lives of others is a wasted education,” Kagame said.
“For education to transform lives, it needs to be accessible to all and not be the privilege of a few.”
He challenged students to evaluate why little progress has been made in the decades since Rwanda gained independence.
“Ask yourself, what did we get out of our independence if we are still dependant on others...some of those who give us aid today were in the same situation we are in today 60 years ago but they drew lessons from their history and transformed their nations,” said the Head of State.
“Rwandans deserve better than living off the wealth of others,” Kagame added.
President Kagame noted that:
“We were created equal with equal capabilities. We are not missing anything to transform our nation.We cannot fail to restore our dignity.”
“Transformation is up to each and everyone of you. There is no shortcut,” the President added.
Kagame criticised the approach to development that has yielded next to no results in the last decades.
“For over 50 years the methods of development have been the same and there has been no change. These methods, mindset attitudes and perceptions must change. We have to focus our efforts toward our need and aspirations as a nation,” he said.
He added that education plays an essential role in transformation, attitude and perception change.
During the event, President Kagame paid tribute to victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“We commemorate as a way of giving our loved ones the respect and dignity they deserve- the same respect and dignity that should define all Rwandans.”
“We cannot run away from our history, we must face it to ensure it never repeats itself. Commemorating is an opportunity to renew our strength to face challenges ahead and build a better future for every citizen,” the President said.
Kagame added that thousands of Rwandans, including students, who had sought refuge at the university were killed and buried there; including his relatives.
Status of UR
Speaking at the event, the Minister for Education, Silas Lwakabamba, said that the quality of education that is currently accorded by several higher institutions of learning has visibly contributed toward the socio-economic transformation of the country.
“In the education sector, we believe the support we have received from the Head of State has been pertinent to the creation of University of Rwanda (UR) which has the mandate to become a locally relevant institution which is regionally and internationally recognised by the quality of teaching and research programmes,” the minister said.
Speaking about the overall status of higher learning institutions in the country, the minister said the number of students enrolled in higher institutions of learning has increased from 3,000 to 87,000 in the past 21 years, while the number of institutions has also grown from three to 45 located in different parts of the country of which 28 are privately owned.
Claude Bahati Munyaneza, a students’ representative, expressed his appreciation with the current status of the education sector and pointed out the challenges remaining, including shelter.
Among the key issues students brought to the attention of the President include delayed disbursement of students’ stipends which President Kagame tasked the Minister to solve in the quickest time possible.
Prior to meeting the students, the President visited the Smart Taxi Park complex, the largest commercial building in the area combining ICT and transportation infrastructure.
Owned by the reserve forces through Royal Trust Company, the complex was constructed at the cost of Rwf4 billion.