Public universities have been urged to be flexible on the issue of study time to allow students to look for part time jobs as an alternative means for sustaining themselves at school following the government’s scrapping of the monthly stipend.
The advice was given by the Minister of Education, Dr. Charles Muligande, while appearing on Radio Rwanda on Sunday.
The government recently announced the that it would stop providing the Frw25,000 monthly allowance which it has been giving to students though the Students Financing Agency for Rwanda (SFAR).
Reacting on a question that was raised on the issue of rigidity by public institutions, especially on students who are sponsored by the government, Muligande said that universities ought to be flexible on the issue if they are going to retain students.
“I think they have to be flexible because it is the only way they can retain students in this age,” said the Minister.
Students complain that most public institutions don’t allow them to study at any time they feel comfortable with.
“It is going to be very difficult if institutions don’t change this policy, because now that the monthly bursary has been scrapped, we shall have to look for part time jobs to be able to survive,” said Anaclet Mugisha, a third year student at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), adding that they should be given the liberty to choose the most convenient time for them to study.
Most universities in the country have both day and evening teaching programmes, but the evening programmes are left for the self-sponsored students while those sponsored by the government are obliged to study during the day only.
In a telephone interview with The New Times yesterday, the Rector of KIST, Prof. Abraham Attah Ogwu, said that the subject was very important and that the issue of time shouldn’t be a barrier for people who want to study while working.
However, he said that it is not something that they can do overnight due to the nature of courses taught at KIST.
“I will set up a team to come up with recommendations on how we can best do it” said Ogwu, adding that they can decide to offer the same courses at different time durations to keep up with good quality.
“We can decide to offer the courses we have been offering in four years at seven years for the part time students instead of ruling out the possibility of having evening programmes,” he said.
According to Ogwu, it is difficult to have courses on full and part time run for the same period since students on evening programmes normally study for few hours than their counterparts in full time.
When contacted, the Executive Director of the Higher Education Council (HEC), Prof. Geoffrey Rugege, re-affirmed the need for universities to introduce flexible programmes to allow students study at their convenience.
“It is done in many countries around the world, so there is no reason as to why it cannot be done in Rwanda,” said Rugege.
He said that academic quality assurance managers in these institutions will have to find ways of introducing such programmes while also ensuring that the quality of education is not affected in the process in order to provide affordable education.