Late last year, one flamboyant consultant shocked many; after carrying out numerous consultancies, some for central government departments and institutions, it was found out that the man was a mere conman.
He had told whoever he met that he had a PhD from the Kennedy School at Harvard University, in the United States of America and he said he had got his Bachelor’s from Kenya.
It turned out, however, that no graduation took place in the year he “graduated” in Nairobi and the course he mentioned has never been carried out at the Kennedy School.
The question is how many officials, consultants and employees are masquerading as University graduates in Rwanda.
By the second half of 2009, a total of 193 post graduate scholars and 28,614 Bachelors degree holders had graduated from ten Institutions of higher learning in Rwanda since 1962, while 5,502 had graduated with undergraduate diplomas.
Females made up 40% of Diploma holders, 36% of bachelors degree holders and 21% of postgraduates. KHI had the biggest number of diploma holders (2,068), followed by ISAE (1537), KIST (933), KIE (817) and with UAAC (147).
Needless to say, NUR had the biggest number of first degree holders with a total of 13,318 alumni, ULK with 7,536, KIST 2,584, KIE 1,841, INILAK 1,594, while KHI had 51, ISAE 62 and INES had 122.
The academic fields with the lowest number of graduates were; Public health (155), Journalism and communication (270) and rural development (303) while management (7,122), law (3,810) and sociology (3,049) topped the list.
There are certainly Rwandans who received their education in countries other than Rwanda and there are non-Rwandans currently resident in the country and whose numbers are not included in the figures mentioned above. However it is possible that some of the people who got
undergraduate diplomas upgraded and got higher qualifications. It is also possible that some of the people who got the mentioned qualifications are deceased, retired, in prison, turned into drunkards, are living abroad as part of the Diaspora while others are self-employed in and out of Rwanda.
The central government and its agencies/institutions as well as decentralized local governments employee tens of thousands of employees many of whom are university graduates and postgraduates.
International and local NGOs, donor and government funded projects, foreign missions, banks, insurance companies, enterprises, manufacturing and processing entities like tea factories, private businesses, academic institutions, religious and civil society organizations employ university graduates.
It is important to note that many of the of graduates in and out of our universities are already in employment by institutions such as the armed forces and academic institutions and after graduating return to their institutions.
Who is clogging the employment opportunities in Rwanda? Where did these graduates in Rwanda study from? Which institutions did they go to and what did they study?
Despite the repeatedly repeated public service reforms in Rwanda over the years there were sociologists working as directors of finance, teachers working as accountants and many mismatched appointments or people who were given jobs beyond their abilities in ministries and government departments until the last round of reforms last year and even today there are people who are in positions they would never have been had it not been the intervention of the “boss”.
The result was and is inefficiency and poor performance on part of government departments and as long as something is not done it will remain business as usual.
The heads of institutions and employers will continue to recruit “their people” irrespective of their skills, education and abilities and “as it was, it will be”.
It is hard to understand why employers and even government institutions continue to rely on a stamp of notary to verify the authenticity of academic papers when all it calls for is an e-mail to an institution of higher learning requesting for verification.
Many institutions reply faster and the results might be shocking. Many Notaries do not keep their stamps; they are kept by secretaries whose salaries can be tripled by stamping one’s bogus certificate.
It is far cheaper and more convenient to buy a bogus certificate from Kampala, Bukavu, Bujumbura, and Nairobi or downloading it from the internet and pay handsomely a secretary to stamp it on behalf of a government notary than spend money, time and sleepless nights reading for it.
Many people feeling big and important in our institutions may not have stepped in a university lecture theatre at all; if in doubt e-mail the university he/she studied from.
There is need to verify the authenticity of certificates and diplomas in all government departments; it might be the key to further unlocking the country’s locked potential.