HUYE – Over 3000 students received degrees in different disciplines at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) in the biggest ever graduation ceremony in the history of the 44-year Institution and in the Country as a whole. The graduation ceremony also saw the award of an honorary doctorate to former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, for her distinguished role as a diplomat and scholar. Announcing the award of the Doctorate, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the National University of Rwanda, Dr Théogène Rutagwenda, said that Ogata had shown exemplary conduct in her endeavours to help people in need.
He said Ogata was instrumental in helping Rwanda solve the refugee problem after the 1994 Genocide, plus other humanitarian interventions she made in other parts of the world. Ogata is expected to receive the award in June.
Speaking at the ceremony, the State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, called on the graduands to be at the forefront in the country’s drive to create a knowledge-based economy.
“Attaining your first degree is worth celebrating but it is not an end in itself. You should always be on the look out for opportunities to improve your skills. Learning is a continuous process” he said:
Using many Kinyarwanda proverbs, Mutsindashyaka implored the students to be creative, dedicated to work and to develop a culture of saving from whatever little they will be earning.
Mutsindashyaka, who represented the chancellor, Education Minister Dr Daphrose Gahakwa, decried the small number of graduates in the country stressing that it hampers the desired rapid economic growth.
“The country has a paltry one percent of its population holding first degrees. For us to have sustainable growth, we need at least 10 percent of our population graduating from university,” said Mutsindashyaka, who was until March 7 the Governor of the Western Province.
He called for innovativeness to help make university education accessible to many people in different environments.
Mutsindashyaka warned NUR community against the genocide ideology. He wondered how intellectuals can claim to be the light of the nation when they are harbouring ideologies that seek to destroy human life.
“The Ministry of Education is committed to the fight against the genocide ideology at all levels. A law to punish people found to harbour and practice the genocide ideology is in the Senate and is expected to be passed soon. Stand warned therefore,” said the tough sounding minister. NUR Rector Prof. Silas Lwakabamba said the university is redesigning its programmes to meet the current market demands.
He applauded efforts of the academic staff in ensuring that the changes take root.The rector said that NUR faces a deficit of up to 200 staff. As many as 132 members of the academic staff have since the year 2000 left the university citing various reasons.
Lwakabamba called for more pay if the university is to retain its highly skilled personnel.
The graduation ceremony also saw the award of two PhD’s to Dr Jean Bosco Gahutu and Dr Julien Gashegu in Physiology and Anatomy/Embryology respectively.
The degrees, awarded in partnership with Belgian universities, are the first of their kind at NUR.
Sixty-four students were conferred upon Master’s degrees in the fields of Law, ICT, Telecommunication, Water Resources and Environment Management, Anaesthesiology, Paediatrics, Dermatology and Public Health.
Best performing students were given prizes by, among others, the Commercial Bank of Rwanda (BCR) and BRALIRWA, a local beer and soft drinks manufacturing company.
NUR was created in 1963.