Carleton University of Canada, has suspended a project that provided media training through student internship exchange and a teaching partnership with the National University of Rwanda (NUR).
The project - The Rwanda Initiative – has run out of funds and will no longer be in position to send the much needed teachers to NUR’s School of Journalism and Communication.
Prof Allan Thompson, the project’s founder and co-director informed all the parties and participants of the decision.
“It is with a great deal of sadness that I confirm that the Rwanda Initiative has formally suspended its activities. We have closed down our house in Kigali and paid severance to our local staff members.” Thompson said in a message to stakeholders.
“Until a new source of funds for project activities can be secured and new housing arrangements put in place, Carleton University will not be sending visiting lecturers to the National University of Rwanda or Great Lakes Media Centre.”
The Great Lakes Media Centre is an affiliate of NUR, which was set up to provide capacity building to practicing journalists, mostly based in Kigali.
According to Christopher Kayumba, the NUR spokesperson, the relationship with Carleton University is being reviewed.
“We are looking at the original objectives (of the partnership). We are reviewing what was done, what was done well, what was not and how it can be improved,” Kayumba said.
Thompson says that, among other things, the status of their internship programs for journalism students is also an open question.
“The project, despite its many successes, had essentially run out of funds. For the last two years we operated in partnership with the Washington-based organisation IREX, which was in-turn funded by the MCC through USAID. The agreement came to an end on May 15 - as scheduled.”
According to Thompson, since May 15, he financed the project’s operations from funds earlier earned by the Centre for Media and Transitional Societies, but those funds too, were exhausted.
“We have one funding application in the pipeline right now and others in development, with submission deadlines this fall, but it will take some time for those applications to work their way through the system,” he said.
Other stakeholders in the country’s media development like Alphonse Nkusi, from the Governance Advisory Council, are hopeful that other people would fill in the gap.
“Rwanda is very ripe for other actors to come and contribute. They have had their contribution and we benefitted from it. They opened a way for other people who will continue in their footsteps.”
The Rwanda Initiative was established in 2006.
It was administered through the Centre for Media and Transitional Societies (CMTS) at Carleton University - a research institute created by Prof. Thompson.
It had an annual operational cost of an estimated US$240,000.
“Let me thank all of you for your contribution to the Rwanda Initiative over the years. Despite this sad turn of events, I remain convinced that together, we made a significant contribution to building the capacity of the media in Rwanda and fostering the next generation of journalists,” Thompson concluded in his message.