The State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Mathias Harebamungu, yesterday, urged private institutions of higher learning to prioritise quality in their institutions.
Harebamungu made the remarks while presiding over a colloquium of private education institutions organised under the umbrella ‘Rwanda Association of Private Institutions of Higher Learning’ (ARIPES) held at the Independent Institute of Lay Adventists of Kigali (INILAK).
The meeting aimed at disseminating research conducted by the association in reducing poverty in the country.
“Institutions of higher learning have a challenge to transform themselves so that they can play a crucial role in providing a graduate labour force with knowledge and skills needed to drive the socio-economic development of our country,” Harebamungu noted.
“Higher education plays a critical role towards the realisation of Vision 2020 and creating a just and stable society,” said the minister, pointing out that this presses a significant responsibility on higher institutions and their staff.
ARIPES brings together nine private institutions of higher learning in the country to advocate for the interests of its member institutions and promote activities that enhance the quality of education in their respective institutions.
“We strongly believe that the necessity of quality assurance, accreditation and licensing for private higher institutions, is not an option but a prerequisite for such vision,” he noted.
“The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) consider knowledge as the prime mover of development. How to provide quality education in large numbers at affordable cost is the primary concern in Rwanda. Quality and vision should be the mission of every higher education institution,” said the minister.
He advised them that if they wished to produce quality students, they should employ qualified lecturers, equip their institutions with enough facilities, maintain good leadership and implement evaluation strategies.
Harebamungu further urged them to align themselves with the new EAC academic calendar which starts on September 1 and ends June 30.
“We should adopt the modular system of teaching so as to have a holistic achievement of the learning objectives. In a few weeks, all public and private institutions of higher learning will receive letters requesting them to adopt the modular system,” he said, adding that it would be mandatory.
He urged them to undertake quality related research studies, consultancy and training programmes and harmonise their qualifications with the Rwanda national qualification framework to ensure uniformity and international recognition of qualifications.
“We must ensure that all our higher education provisions are aligned to the national policies governing the higher education. A teacher’s purpose in not to create a student in the teacher’s own image, but to develop students who can create their own image,” he said.
The Rector of the Musanze Institute of Higher Education (INES), Prof Deogratias Niyibizi, however, said that private institutions were faced with various challenges on top of financing.
“We are facing financial challenges to acquire materials for research. The problem is that public institutions are funded while we are noted,” he lamented, adding that they are compelled to seek ways to fund their own budgets.
Niyibizi, who is also the President of the Council of Rectors of Private Institutions of Higher Learning (CRIPES), appealed to the government to bring researchers together to boost research at both public and private universities.