A total of 2,943 primary and secondary school teachers were conferred upon degrees, diplomas, and certificates from the University of Rwanda’s College of Education maiden graduation ceremony yesterday.
Wednesday marked the third day of UR’s five-day inaugural graduation ceremony, since the merger of seven public higher learning institutions into one University, in mid 2013.
The move to merge all public tertiary institutions into one entity was aimed at enhancing research and maximise resources, which would support the national development agenda.
The Bishop of Shyira Diocese, Dr Laurent Mbanda, the Board chair, urged the new teachers to be passionate about their profession.
“Human beings are endowed with power to influence others. You have been transformed to transform others; you have acquired skills, I challenge you to employ those skills and make a difference in people’s lives,” Mbanda said.
In reference to Mahatma Gandhi’s saying, Mbanda added: “Be the change you want to see in this world, practice what you preach and teach.”
He urged the graduates to be hard working and passionate about their work.
“An average person inspires about 10,000 people in their lives. You can imagine how many people you can influence,” Mbanda added.
He told the graduates that hope, wishes and aspirations without action remain wishful expressions.
He shared his experience, of his 500 miles’ walk from Burundi to Nairobi, Kenya, in search for education.
“I was only 19 and decided to go out and look for what I admired most at that time, which was education. It took me six months. There was nothing that was going to stand in my way because I had a purpose and a goal to achieve,” Mbanda narrated.
He challenged the graduates on positive thinking, planning, reliability, diligence, productivity and morality.
“It is important to know who you are and who you serve, so you can serve better. Start learning to develop, love your students, and make them love education.”
Dr Mike O’Neal, the Chancellor of UR, noted that the university’s goal is to support the country’s development by pioneering excellence in leadership, service and problem solving.
“This graduation is a milestone, but not the end of the learning process. You are encouraged to follow your personal calling to a life of service,” O’Neal said.
He called on the graduates to make a difference in their lives and society.
“You might not be able to become Nelson Mandela, or mother Theresa, or Bill Gates, but you can make a difference in society. You can change the future of this region,” he advised.
Prof. George Njoroge, the Principal College of Education, urged the teachers to be role models rather than instruments of hate.
Teachers, he said, compliment the role of parents in building the character of the next generation.
However, they (teachers) can only do this, if they themselves are exemplary, he said.
“Learners are significantly influenced by teachers, and all of us remember teachers who influenced us to be who we are today, or teachers who we hated with passion. Let us not be instruments of hate by observing high standards of professional ethics,” Njoroge said.
The majority of the teachers got Bachelor’s degrees while others got postgraduate certificates and diplomas.
Prof. James McWha, the Vice Chancellor of UR, also told the graduates that the graduation marked a turning point in their lives, and the life of the university
“Therefore, move out into the world, and through your works, let it shine,” he said.