Wrangles pit ISPG graduates against school administration

Recent graduates from the ISPG (Institut Superieur Pedagogique de Gitwe) Faculty of Biomedical Sciences have accused the college of not training them to the standards expected by the labour market.
Graduates at a past graduation ceremony. (File)
Graduates at a past graduation ceremony. (File)

Recent graduates from the ISPG (Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Gitwe) Faculty of Biomedical Sciences have accused the college of not training them to the standards expected by the labour market.

The graduates say that the Ruhango District-based tertiary institute did not train them to the required standards needed to get accreditation from the Rwanda Allied Health Professional Council (RAHPC).

They had expected to get work as laboratory technicians upon receiving their degrees but without accreditation, they cannot practice.  

According to the RAHPC the college’s graduates had not studied enough to meet the minimum standards needed.

As a result, both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health have recommended that the graduates return to university to study the additional courses they had missed in order to qualify for the accreditation.

This has not gone down well with the graduates.

“We studied biomedical science without any specific course in laboratory science. We learnt lab modules among other topics. That is why I got a job in a medical laboratory since 2013. I am a trainer at the national level and even train students from college of medicine from University of Rwanda who come for internship in the medical laboratory”, said J. Baptiste Sikubwabo the representative of the affected students, saying that going back to school would be unfair to them.

“The professional council did not reject our request because we did not study but because the subject did not have specific credits,” he explained.

Recently, a specific course in ‘medical laboratory technology’ was introduced in ISPG, something that the former students wish existed previously.

ISPG Registrar Josue Rusine, confirmed to The New Times that the graduates had received some modules in laboratory science. However, he said that it would be better for them to broaden their knowledge base in medical laboratory technology.

“They have to take up laboratory courses on top of those they had learnt before. It is to their advantage and to the people who will seek their services once they get into practice,” he explained.

Speaking to The NewTimes, Dr. Innocent Mugisha the Executive Director of Higher Education Council, advised the students to return to the university.

“Those students learnt what the programme required but when they got out, the labour market demanded more.

They should go back and study more”, Mugisha explained.

Subsidised fees

However the graduates insist that even when they go back to school, the college must subsidise their fees, because this was mainly the institution’s problem that they did not take on the course while they were still there.

Parliament has got involved in this issue, with both students and the institution presently awaiting its recommendations. 

“So the way forward is that there must be facilitation, where the school pays a portion of the fees and the jobless graduates pay the rest. Those already with jobs can pay the full amount”, Mugisha recommended.

The graduates are agitating for the fees to be reduced to Rwf 200,000 from the Rwf500,000 the school is demanding.

“We do not understand why only a few credits can cost Rwf500, 000. We shall wait for what parliament decides but we feel we have been treated unfairly,” says Sikubwabo.

The ISPG Registrar disagrees with the graduates, saying that they reduced fees from Rwf960, 000 to Rwf500,000.

He added that those who graduated with diplomas in biomedical science received what they paid for.

“They should understand how things work. The education system is dynamic. There is no problem with what they learnt from the biomedical science faculty. What they need to do is add some credits and receive an additional diploma in medical laboratory technology, which will make them more competitive,” he said.

The institute has pledged to reduce fees by forty percent for those unable to pay or give them temporary jobs to help them to pay the fees.