The saga of Universite Laique Adventiste de Kigali (UNILAK) not possessing an operating licence from government seems to be winding up. Finally Ministry of Education is becoming sagacious on the touchy subject.
Well, it had to take time, over a decade. Or we are beginning to see results from what has been referred to by the media as an overhaul of the top brass – all the top three officials, minister, state minister and secretary general are new – owing to the recent cabinet reshuffle and other changes which affected some senior government bureaucrats.
Whatever the case may be, now that the political will to resolve the long standing licence affair is fully restocked, focus shifts to the method going to be applied. For starters, UNILAK admitted its maiden student intake in 1997. By 2003 those pioneers were done with studies, but they could not graduate because the university had/s not fulfilled education ministry requirements for licensing.
The latest is a debate on the controversy in the Senate two days ago took, in which the Minister of Education fronted a position most senators were uncomfortable with. She said that for the 473 students who have completed their courses to graduate, they will have to re-sit fresh examinations.
The minister said this will help boost confidence in the students by prospective employers. Her argument is based on the recognition that the university has generated unwanted publicity from its tag of war with her ministry as it tried in vain to secure licence.
Senators on their part argued the unfairness doing more exams portends. It is their position we would like to side with, beginning by pointing out that graduation itself would restore trust in the graduates. The premise here is that the affected students enjoy public sympathy hinged on the knowledge that there are other tertiary institutions with not much better standards, who have not suffered the same fate.
Perhaps any approach in putting the issue to rest through measures that appear to victimise students should not be considered. It is not their fault that they went to UNILAK. Realisation of this by the ministry and the latter admitting its own failures and allow the students to graduate does not necessarily turn the beneficiaries into political graduates, like the minister fears.
Unless if the examinations are purely intended to put on a show, ensuring from onset that no one fails. Which would make matters worse since the minister unknowingly implies they are not for testing ability but for cleansing purposes. How comprehensive would the one-off exams be? How suitable would they be as supplement to the gradual testing students underwent over years of their courses?
The minister signalling a new era of cooperation between government and the university in a concerted effort to tackle the licence problem is a big step forward. However, let further consultations be carried out, carefully considering concerns of all the stakeholders before coming up with a final position. Apparently, judging by the Senate’s input to the minister’s presentation, there is still a lot to be done.