Graduates of the University of Rwanda (UR) from some departments such as that of Estate Management and Valuation are claiming to be having a rough time on the job market on account of having irrelevant qualifications.
They say they have on various occasions been told that their degrees are irrelevant when they apply for related job positions in some government departments for some posts such as land infrastructure, land valuation, community settlement and land survey.
A similar concern arose last when hundreds of students from the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology in Microbiology Department petitioned parliament complaining of being admitted to study in a programme that has no job prospects and being asked for extra courses to match the job market demands.
Jean Bosco Dusengimana and Angelique Uwamahoro are some of the affected students who graduated in Estate Management and Evaluation in 2015. They say that they were turned down in five districts on account that their degree is not relevant.
Seth Nshimiyimana, one graduate from the UR’s department of Estate Management and Valuation, also the Managing Director of Property Development Group Ltd, says this situation is arising from the poor coordination between institutions and employers.
“We tried to write petition to the Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MIFOTRA) in February, 2015 to include estate managers and valuers on the job profile but still the problem persists,” he says.
However, according to Osée Twayigize, the Ngororero District in charge of human resources management, districts follow the current job structure and requirements by MIFOTRA when recruiting employees.
The Estate Management and Valuation Department started in 2010 with a mission of anchoring fast national growth and development through a vibrant construction industry, supplying sufficient well-trained, creative, competent professional land valuers and estates managers.
It has passed out 160 graduates in four previous graduations and currently has 154 sitting students.
The case for the Department of Microbiology is no different because since its inception in 2005, at least 350 students have graduated but none gets employed in any field.
Emmanuel Nsekanabo, a microbiology graduate, says they last year took a second petition to parliament over the unfulfilled promise to give them extra courses.
UR speaks out
Speaking to Education Times recently, Prof. Nelson Ijumba, the deputy vice rector at the University of Rwanda in charge of academic affairs and research, said that the university was not aware of the issue of estate management and valuation graduates before but promised to talk to the National Capacity Building Secretariat (NCBS) for a solution because these graduates are needed on the labour market.
He stressed that some of the engineers that are given job opportunities in the fields of estate management and valuation are not trained to do property valuation.
“A civil engineer can be the quantity surveyor and can only do valuation of construction materials. But when we have property such as farms, piece of land, a house, we need a professional valuer to do it,” Ijumba noted.
Request for extra courses
On the issue of the microbiologists’ request for extra courses, Ijumba said: “We took a decision to re-direct those students from these programmes. We proposed they could do some courses in education so that they become teachers. We discussed with them possible solutions but we can’t guarantee them jobs. We can try to advocate for them in the Bureau of Standards, in food industries and in water industries because these are the opportunities that fall in line with their qualifications.”
MP Agnes Mukazibera, the chairperson of the standing committee on education, told Education Times that parliament and the Ministry of Education, in response to the graduates’ petition, agreed to give these additional courses to the graduates.
According to Innocent Mugisha, executive director of the High Education Council (HEC), this challenge stems from the country’s public labour background where graduates are most of the time employed by the government.
“Self employment is still at the lower lever among graduates, but this does not prevent us to encourage universities to continue restructuring their programmes to make graduates more qualified and relevant,” he said.
Health professional council’s take
Jean Baptiste Ndahiriwe, the registrar at Rwanda Allied Health Professional Council (RAHPC), clarified that the council denied graduates of microbiology a chance to register for extra courses after they established the issue was a misunderstanding by graduates on what they expected to do after graduation.
“I want to encourage universities to undertake guidance and counseling instructions so that students are able to understand at the very beginning of their programmes what to expect after graduation. I also encourage students to free their mind so that they can be able to appreciate what they are doing,” Ndahiriwe noted.
In 2015, Medical Laboratory Technology graduates from the University of Gitwe (former Higher Institute of Pedagogy of Gitwe) also petitioned the Prime Minister to help them get a practising license.
Recent graduates from this institution in the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences have accused the Institute of not training them to the standards expected by the labour market and to get accreditation from the Rwanda Allied Health Professional Council (RAHPC). The council approved by then that these graduates had not studied enough to meet the minimum standards needed.
Word from Labour entities
Bonaventure Uwamahoro, who works with the Capacity Development and Employment Services Board, said by the time the current public job profile was restructured in 2014, the estate managers had not graduated, which made them not to be considered.
He, however, said these estate managers and valuers should be given a chance to have entry in public service.
“But even then, this may not be a sustainable response as the public service covers only 3 percent of available jobs countrywide compared to the private sector that accounts for 97 percent,” he said.
Tite Kanyankore, the acting director in charge of Public Service Management in MIFOTRA, emphasised that the previous restructuring of the job profile was done while these estate managers were still doing courses at university.
“We assessed that the letter came in 2015 while we did the restructuring of job profile in 2014. We decided to discuss with the representatives of these graduates early this year to see how they can be integrated in the job profile and to look how employing institutions can recognise their degrees,” he said.
Kanyankore added that most of the time these graduates miss job opportunities just because employing institutions do not have a common understanding of their qualifications.