For Rwanda to achieve sustainable development, graduates have to inspire change and find solutions based on the skills gained from their educational experiences, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has said.
The premier said Rwanda – and Africa is general – still faces a number of transformational challenges that require a generation of change-makers on the job market, who are equipped with a wide range of skills and knowledge to create solutions that would inspire socio-economic transformation.
“For Rwanda and Africa in general to reach sustainable development, we need a wide range of skilled and knowledgeable workforce, mainly one equipped with vocational skills. This can only be made possible by the contributions made by both public and private tertiary learning institutions,” Murekezi said.
Murekezi was officiating at the 4th graduation ceremony of University of Rwanda at Amahoro National Stadium, yesterday, where he urged students to embrace innovation and create solutions through entrepreneurship rather than setting their eyes on searching for jobs.
A total of 8,366 students were conferred upon with degrees in different disciplines.
“Rwanda, your country, Africa and the world expect a lot from you. You have to be true change-makers. With your skills, you must make a positive difference in peoples’ lives, whether through your professional careers or in establishing business,” the premier said.
He said the Government has set up a number of initiatives, such as Business Development Fund (BDF), which are ready to finance graduates’ start-ups, but urged them to “think big” and create jobs that rather bring solutions to the common people.
“To be successful in future, you have to think big and be innovators, and create your own jobs instead of being jobseekers. You should make a real, lasting change. The Government, through BDF and other initiatives, will always support you,” Murekezi said.
To the university administration, Murekezi said education is what graduates need to succeed on the job market as well as an encouragement for them to start their own business.
“The progress of our country,” he said, “can only be founded on the skills and education of its people.”
He reminded the administration to put more effort in ICT; matching the curriculum with the national vision, industrial revolution, service sector and creating solutions for the common people.
The premier said the Government was committed to working with both private and public institutions to ensure that the quality and relevance of education keeps improving in all schools—making education the pillar of national transformation.
Of the 8,366 who graduated Friday, 3,251 are women.
Under post-graduate programme, there were 160 men and 116 women graduates with Master’s Degree. A man and woman graduated with PhD.
Also among the graduates, 311 were conferred upon post-graduate diplomas, including 116 women.
Girls need continuous support
Jovanice Rutayisire, one of the graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture, told Saturday Times that young girls are faced with a couple of challenges and need continuous support throughout their education journey.
Four years since university’s merger
The 2017 graduation ceremony came four years after the amalgamation of public institutions of higher learning to form the University of Rwanda.
Rutayisire said that restructuring of the university presented some challenges but she believes it is intended to make the University more powerful in the future.
“There is still a bit of chaos but I believe in a few years to come we are going to see the university progressing. But in terms of education programmes, compared to the previous years, you can see that there is some sort of improvement,” she said.
Education minister Papias Musafiri commended students for having displayed patience as the university underwent numerous changes—a sentiment that is shared by Vice-Chancellor Philip Cotton.
“Some of the changes we are implementing are painful. It has come at a cost to some individuals who have had to move house, move their families and that is always tough. But we have developed a rationalisation at the university and the review of the programmes—which we believe will set us up for the future and will make us more resilient in financial and quality terms,” Prof. Cotton told Saturday Times.
Dr Mike O’Neal, the university chancellor, said the graduation was a moment of pride to the young institution that has gone on to improve the stature at the regional level through several research publications.