In the year 2008 the Public Service Commission received 3,222 applications for employment and only 191 passed the interviews.
Recently the Social Security Fund of Rwanda (CSR ) conducted written interviews for prospective employees and out the 1,320 candidates who sat the examinations , only 136 got the minimum pass mark of 50 out 80, 227 got less than 10 out of 80 while 23 got 0 out of 80.
Unfortunately many of these candidates are employed elsewhere and simply wanted to work for CSR different reasons. Many of them are decision makers in their respective positions particularly in decentralized local governments dealing with problems faced by Rwandans in their localities.
All of the candidates who sat for interviews are graduates who, one day, wore gowns and hoods, the heads of faculty announced that they had satisfactory met the requirements for the award of degrees of their respective institutions and the chancellor by virtue of the powers conferred upon him/her awarded them degrees.
There were expensive parties where these people looked, spoke and behaved very important while friends and relatives danced with joy for a son/daughter/friend that had joined the class of the country’s elite.
The questions asked by the examiners at CSR were not meant to fail candidates but make them pass; such questions as, “What are the core functions of Social Security Fund of Rwanda?”
Many candidates mentioned the law setting up CSR and the name of the Managing Director exactly as they appear on the CSR website. Others wrote that CSR built housing estates.
These candidates are not morons instead something is wrong with the way they were trained/taught. Whereas many things have changed in Rwanda since 1994, teaching methods have not. Teachers and lecturers do not teach/train pupils/students to think but to memorize.
Lecturers at many institutions instruct students to memorize what they taught them and reproduce them in the examinations without changing a dot. Students are not trained to solve issues but to memorize.
Lecturers at ISAE Busogo and others at different Universities penalize students who write solutions according to their own interpretation; he expects students to memorize and reproduce what he taught them.
It is called “transplanting”, “cramming” and “kuboroka” in colloquial. Many course-works, assignments and dissertations are photocopies of what has been produced before.
Many lecturers are either lazy or do not care, while professors and Deans of faculty are so important that they do not have time to follow how their students perform. The product shows; generations of graduates who cannot think and perform in a changed environment.
Had the examiners given candidates information to read before and then asked them to reproduce the texts as it appeared, majority of them would have scored 75 percent and above.
The way pupils and students are educated needs to be reexamined, evaluated and for the sake of Rwanda make the necessary changes for its future generations.
It is not unusual to find graduates who cannot write application letters. Others cannot write simple compositions, in their native, language because throughout their education, they were taught to list or mention and not to discuss or describe.
Many students do not read and make independent research in libraries because that does not add to their course scores; lecturers and professors expect students to memorize and reproduce exactly what they were taught in lecturer rooms.
Professors of today who were taught to “memorize and list” cannot think of other ways of approach and their products get zeros in simple pre-employment tests.
Only the post-graduate section of Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) is known to use anti-plagiarism software among Rwandan Institutions of higher learning, despite the large number of the numerous and cheap ones available on the market, resulting in students photocopying works of the alumni and simply claiming it as theirs.
Supervising Lecturers seem too happy to get on with large numbers of prospective graduands and do not bother to crosscheck for possible plagiarism.
It is one thing to have “all important and feared” professors and rectors and another to lead institutions of higher learning that equip scholars that are in position to contribute to our national development.
Rwanda needs and deserves university graduates who can think and find solutions to her development challenges, and not only those who can memorize, what they have been told.
People responsible for our education, particularly higher education, need to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
The National Council for Higher Education, the Curriculum Development Centre and the National Examination Council need to work together to find solutions to graduates who go through without getting education.
The Ministry of Education should lead the way by examining the Boards, management and staff of our higher institutions and possibly their motivation.
It is one thing to train and equip future generations of scholars and another to produce thousands of “half-baked” graduates who cannot compete in the national labour market; not mentioning the regional and international market.