The Rector of Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) Dr. Jean d’ Arc Mujawamariya, has put the private sector on the spot for failure to sponsor research in tertiary institutions.
Mujawamariya noted that higher institutions of learning are defined and graded by the quality of research studies they conduct, articulating that research has been dwarfed by lack of interest from the country’s private sector.
She told The New Times in an exclusive interview that judging by the standards demonstrated by tertiary institutions in other EAC countries, Rwanda still lags behind, particularly in the world wide rankings of universities.
“The truth is that we are not doing enough as far as research is concerned, and that is because of the issue of funding. If you go to developed countries, research and researchers are funded by the private sector, which is not the case in Rwanda.
She explained that the private sector in the country was ignorant of the essence of research.
“Normally, private companies are supposed to inject money into research that answer problems in their various domains, but our companies have not shown any interest in this particular area,” she reiterated.
“Most of the science-based institutions of higher learning were put in place by the government. This means that the private sector should come in to compliment the government by funding as many researches as possible”.
She said last year the government gave a total of Rwf 6 million to KIST for research which she said was a drop in the ocean.
“This is not even enough to fund our researchers to go and accumulate experience from other countries to help them to do their own research here. Though the government is encouraging us to fund ourselves, there should be a start up fund,” she suggested.
In the 2009-10 annual budget, the government cut funds going into higher education and were instead channelled to lower education. Universities were advised to look for ways to generate their own income.
This has somewhat affected academic programmes in these institutions, including research that is still at its infancy.
However, Mujawamariya added that despite the modest funds, KIST has been involved in a number of successful research studies that have had an impact on the society.
She cited a study that innovated a modern cooking technology to protect the environment that is due for publication soon.
Efforts to get views from the department in charge of research at the Ministry Of Education on the promotion of research in the country were fruitless.