If you have ever been a refugee, you know how tough it can be to get an education, and a degree at that. Well, yesterday was one of the happiest moments for the 34 refugee students from the DR Congo and Burundi who graduated from different universities of Rwanda.
The students, who graduated in the fields of engineering, accounting, business administration, economics and statistics, among others, were beneficiaries of the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Programme (DAFI) and ADRA Rwanda.
Seraphine Mukantabana, the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, urged the graduates to go out there and exploit the opportunities in the various fields.
“Rwandan market is competitive and it requires all people, including refugees, to take part since they have the competitive skills. You should go for higher positions and face them with a positive mind-set. With that, you will be able to solve problems faced by your counterparts at home,”she said.
Dr Ngaite Nkomo Mgeni, the representative of ADRA Rwanda, said they face a lot of challenges in terms of supporting refugees, and urged the government to give a hand.
“For instance, there are 450 refugee students graduating yearly at O-level, but only a few of them get government scholarships to join universities. The big number left is being supported by ADRA, which is a huge a challenge,” she said.
She advised the graduates to set a good example and help the bigger society to make a big change.
“A better educated society means a well-informed citizenry. You are now change agents since you have already achieved what it takes to be leaders. You should demonstrate to the entire country the importance of education,” she noted.
She adds that with the help of UNHCR and donors, they will continue to support the other remaining refugees to reach higher education.
Pascal Rukundo, a representative from the Ministry of Education, urged the graduates to keep working hard.
“Your academic journey is not yet over; you are entering a new chapter in life full of opportunities. You should always strive to excel in whatever you do, and as a ministry we will try to support refugees’ education as much as we can,” he said.
Benjamin Nzabarinda, a master’s degree graduate in development studies from the DR Congo, expressed his gratitude to the Rwandan Government for the support.
“Not all the refugees are privileged to get a chance to get higher education. It’s a great opportunity for us to work hard so that we help other refugees who are still struggling to have education in foreign countries,” he said.