Lawmakers want varsities to prioritise hands-on skills

Members of the Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth in the Lower House will next month go on a two-week tour across the country to examine how institutions of higher learning can better deliver hands-on training.
Private Sector Federation chairperson Benjamin Gasamagera  speaks to the MPs yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.
Private Sector Federation chairperson Benjamin Gasamagera speaks to the MPs yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Members of the Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth in the Lower House will next month go on a two-week tour across the country to examine how institutions of higher learning can better deliver hands-on training.

The MPs yesterday met officials from the Private Sector Federation to share ideas on how successful entrepreneurs can improve their partnership with universities to enable students practise what they study in class.

With an evolving labour market in line with the country’s development, the lawmakers are worried that varsities are increasingly producing graduates who know more of theory than practice and they want to engage different stakeholders to reverse the trend.

“We want to be able to bring about some changes in our way of teaching,” said MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa, vice chairperson of the committee.

The committee members will meet university dons and district officials to explore how better the private sector and institutions of higher learning can work together to improve the quality of education.

“The bottom line for this activity is to be able to empower Rwandan students with the skills they need. We need to press the right buttons for that to happen and we want to make our contribution in achieving that goal,” Nyirahirwa said.

She explained that every institution in the country should bear in mind that quality education is needed in order to provide students with the right skills that meet current labour market needs.

The Chairperson of Private Sector Federation (PSF), Benjamin Gasamagera, told the legislators yesterday that, generally , there is no satisfaction at both levels, with neither graduates nor their employers happy about the level of skills acquired by students during their studies.

“What we need to do, and it has been done by many developed countries, is to focus on practice instead of theory,” he said.

The entrepreneur urged direct link between classes and the industry, advising that a requirement of standard values for members of the private sector that entice them to provide opportunity for students and young graduates should be introduced.

“We need to have a strong partnership between work places and schools. This can build confidence among our young people,” he said.

PSF’s chief executive officer, Stephen Ruzibiza, advised different universities to carry out research about the needs of the labour market before launching study programmes for students.

He indicated that some colleges are busy training students in areas for which related training is easy to deliver instead of seeking to offer students programmes that are relevant with current labour market needs.

“Some schools are profit-oriented and look at what students want instead of considering labour market needs,” he said, recommending that university programmes should be improved to make them more hands-on and labour market oriented.

The MPs’ tour to assess how connected colleges are to the private sector will start on November 6 and end on November 21, an exercise that will help them collect different ideas that will be submitted to Parliament for further scrutiny and recommendations.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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