HUYE — The National University of Rwanda’s Main Library can only seat only 200 students, far below the student enrollment of over 8,000, an official said.
Addressing visiting members of the Board of Governors Thursday at the university campus, Charles Kalinganire, the acting library director said the Library was overwhelmed.
"The number of students who want to access our library facilities is simply overwhelming. Urgent measures should be put in place to address this issue," said Kalinganire.
The chairman of the University Board, Dr Theogene Rutagengwa, urged library officials to create ‘valuable’ space from within by finding alternative storage space for old redundant books.
"The problem of library space is real but some space can be created if old and discarded books can be stored somewhere else; to create the much needed space for students" he said.
He however, concurred with librarians on the need for the physical extension of the premises. The library built in 1978 has about 15,000 book titles, three quarters of which are computerised.
The library subscribes to more than 33,000 E-journals with assistance from the Swedish Agency for International Cooperation (SIDA/SAREC).
Other problems reported include insufficient number of computers, the lack of internet connection in its offices and understaffing.
During the same tour, the board members visited the Faculty of Science, where officials pointed out similar challenges of inadequate equipments and staff to cater for the increasing student enrolment.
"Science laboratories are overstretched. The number of students is increasing but the structures and teaching staff have remained stagnant," said Prof. Emmanuel Bajyana of the Faculty of Science.
A visit to students’ hostels revealed poor housing conditions especially in the men’s section.
"There is congestion and the buildings are old. Human waste treatment and the lack of water aggravate the problem," said Gerard Mudaheranwa, the Dean of students.
On this problem, the chairman advised the university management to encourage private entrepreneurs to construct multi-storied structures, and initiate the use of double-decker beds in students’ halls of residence.
"Many universities in the region have adopted this system to create space and convenience in students’ hostels. The university should consider implementing the same in all halls of residence," said Rutagengwa.
At the Faculty of Medicine, university officials complained of lack of cadavers to facilitate practical sessions for medical students.
"A law to allow the faculty to experiment on dead bodies is yet to be enacted by parliament. Once its passed, medical students will be able to conduct practical sessions on real bodies," said a faculty official at the Anatomy Department.
Commenting on their visit, Dr Rutagengwa told The New Times that it was important for them to have first hand information on the challenges facing the 44-year old institution.
"It is not enough to rely on written reports. The physical tour of the university has given us a picture of what is needed to propel this institution to another level," said Rutagengwa.
The National University of Rwanda was jointly created in 1963 by the Rwandan government and the Congregation of the Dominicans from the Province of Quebec in Canada. It opened with a student enrolment of 51 which has since increased to over 8,000 students.