University of Rwanda: The journey to a world class institution

On the fourth day of a week-long marathon of graduation ceremonies at the University of Rwanda, the institutions mission was emphasised. The year-old institution works around a mission with three activities: Academics, for capacity building; Research and Service to Society.  

On the fourth day of a week-long marathon of graduation ceremonies at the University of Rwanda, the institutions mission was emphasised. The year-old institution works around a mission with three activities: Academics, for capacity building; Research and Service to Society.

According to the Principal of the College of Science and Technology whose students graduated on Thursday, the College has a major role in the socio-economic development of the country.

“This is much more so in view of the fact that Rwanda has chosen science and technology as one of its important vehicles to drive national development,” Professor Manasse Mbonye said during the graduation ceremony.

“Rwanda has chosen science and technology as one of its important vehicles to drive national development,” he said.

“The College must create an academic environment that facilitates capacity building, and spearheads research as well as innovation,” he added.

The College of Science and Technology comprises four Schools: Architecture, Engineering, ICT, and Science. 

There are plans to add the school of Mining and Geology, which would come as a major boost in the country’s efforts to increase revenues from natural resources.

Research

As a country whose development ambitions rely on technology and innovation, the role of the education sector cannot be underestimated. The University of Rwanda has crafted strategies to ensure its research programmes are in line with national priorities including, agriculture, energy and the environment.

“We are aware that research in itself is not useful if it does not translate into meaningful applications. It is because of this that the College is going beyond research and innovation and is developing a Research and Development Plan to facilitate Technology Transfer,” Prof. Mbonye added.

So far the College of Science and Technology has made a mark in the quest to transfer skills through outreach programmes carried out by the students.

“When our Architects work with the City of Kigali to support urban planning and design, or our Environmental engineers help to improve the sewage system or to test the structural strength of buildings,   we believe these are relevant activities,” Prof. Mbonye said.

He added: “When our engineering students engage in rural electrification projects or when they build small bridges across the nation, we believe this is a relevant activity.”

Women empowerment

At the heart of Rwanda’s development are women who have been successfully integrated into all aspects of society. However, there still remains a challenge in the field of science where the demographics show the female population in the college is lower than their male counterparts.

The College currently has a total of 6,050 students of which only 29 per cent are female. And, on graduation day on Thursday, of the 1,273 graduates, only 384 were female, representing 30.2 per cent.  

“We should also be mindful of the skew or lack of gender balance these numbers imply, in regard to the future manpower in Science and Technology,” Mbonye said, adding that “these numbers challenge us to find ways of increasing female enrollment in this College.”

The university’s journey to being a world class institution is just beginning. The institution is now bigger following the merging of different public institutions of learning.