Rwandan youth makes portable science lab

Graduation ceremonies will take place every year. Thousands of students will graduate from different universities all over the country and we shall attend the parties and celebrate. 
Students use a portable lab to develop IT solutions . (Patrick Buchana)
Students use a portable lab to develop IT solutions . (Patrick Buchana)

Graduation ceremonies will take place every year. Thousands of students will graduate from different universities all over the country and we shall attend the parties and celebrate. 

Celebration then stops when we realize that six months have passed but the person we had a lot of hope in, still doesn’t have a job; not even a firm promise. 

It’s no secret that available job opportunities aren’t equal to the number of graduates and it will be like that for a very long time. 

Rwanda as an emerging economy looks for people with exceptional skills; and merely a degree or post graduate degree. 

To be exceptional, you of course have to be different from the rest of your peers that you graduated with. To put that in perspective: you must do a lot more than just class work. Your learning must extend beyond what is taught in class, meaning putting in more time and effort. 

For a student doing electronic engineering, that becomes a lot harder without having quick and easy access to the laboratory. 

A group of Rwanda students who graduated from Oklahoma University in the USA noticed that problem and decided to come up with a solution which, I must say, is an A+ solution. 

They have made a portable laboratory for students. This is as small as a 96-page hand book but has almost everything a student would need from a laboratory.  

This device puts a user at par with someone inside university/college laboratory. The difference is that the person with a portable lab can do it over and over again and also try out other experiments. 

Gaspard Twagirayezu, an engineer and the brain behind this portable lab, says it’s supposed to be a personal tool to help students do more experiments and teach themselves a lot more. 

“One can do more than 15 experiments on it. It also works with the One Laptop per Child computers and very convenient for someone to learn on it, practice and create amazing things with it.” 

With this portable lab, students from College of Science and Technology have emerged as champions in many competitions where they created the hardware solutions. 

ICT4Ag was one of competitions they won when they created a fertilizer detecting stick. 

With such kinds of equipment, one doesn’t have to wait for a lecturer to teach them something and a student is not limited by what is taught in class. 

Much as some of the solutions are coming from Rwanda, the world has become a global village with a lot of knowledge-sharing. For example sites like Microsoft Virtual Academy, Khan Academy and many more are offering free courses online that one would previously be paying millions for. There is a lot of knowledge out there, one needs to grab it to either be a good entrepreneur and create jobs or be able to fit the needs of the tough cutthroat labor market. 

That is the kind of graduates that are ready for the competitive market of the 21st century, worthy of representing Rwanda and taking lead in fulfilling the role of the youth to archive Rwanda’s 2020 vision.



Online courses offer more people than ever the ability to get a post-secondary education. Because it is a self directed program, it may not be suited for people that aren’t highly motivated and organised. Of course, no matter what education you choose you should make sure that it is accredited, or even better, internationally recognized. Getting education online offers more than you might have ever thought possible. 

1. Learn from the comfort of your own home

One of the greatest things about online learning is that you can learn anywhere — even in the comfort of your own home. This will save you countless hours of transit that you would otherwise waste every day going to and from school by car or bus. Instead of enduring a boring — and often stressful — rush to get to class at a horrible hour of the morning, you can use those hours for actual learning, or even sleeping in!

2. Avoid schedule conflicts

Online learning is extremely flexible, allowing students to learn when they want. This is great for students who have a full time job or have children and wouldn’t be able to attend classes any other way. You will get much more one on one instruction in the distance learning course because you can always contact your instructor by email or video conference. 

3. Focused learning

- Accommodates multiple learning styles and mediums

- Students can connect via email, chat rooms, or wiki pages

- Students vastly prefer online learning

- Skip over material you already know and focus on topics you would like to learn

4. Learn at your own pace

It is possible for students to learn at their own pace - this means that some students will graduate from a two-year programme in three or four years, whereas other students will graduate in one year, or even six months. This means you can be working much faster than you originally thought - meaning you can pay back any student loans faster too. 

5. Vastly less expensive

If you look around the internet you will find classes that are very inexpensive compared to a regular college or university program. Be sure to research the program carefully before you enroll. Interesting materials such as video lectures, taped lectures, and such, may be mailed to you. At the end of their education, when students finally hold their degrees, most of them are laden with huge student loans. Don’t let huge student loans get the best of you - get an online education instead and save vast amounts of money.

Compiled by Patrick Buchana

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