Why universities are called higher institutions of learning is presumably because they are studded with intellectual stars. When you enroll into a university, you hope to get a learning experience and qualification that cannot be obtained elsewhere.
I like Henrick Ibsen’s ideology on democracy. In his play, ‘An Enemy of the People’, he advocates for the leadership of the minority intelligent.
According to the playwright, the majority is made up of fools. If leadership decisions are pegged on the opinion of the majority, who are usually fools, then the democracy becomes an enemy of the people itself.
The reason is that the masses are always manipulated by the political bourgeoisie.
My point is that the best leadership is expected from universities. The university academic staff, arguably the cream of the society ought to make unrivalled contribution to education development. This central and critical role cannot be delegated or relegated.
Tremendous contribution to research and training is not just expected. It is demanded.
The Rwandan Government has continued putting a lot of emphasis on the development and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) but the extent of exploitation of the facilities is undetermined.
A ranking website, webometrics, that ranks universities according to their open access initiatives, electronic access to scientific publications and other academic material ranks the National University of Rwanda at number 44 in Africa and number 4,596 worldwide.
Kigali Institute of Science and Technology follows at a distant 9,947.
This is a wakeup call to other universities to rise up to the challenge and make a mark on the academic map. They ought to have heavy web presence reflecting their activities.
The economic development of any country heavily relies on the quality of human resources that the universities produce.
Whereas the expectation or rather conjecture is that graduates from universities should be more competent and better equipped, the opposite has been permanently true.
There is a big outcry from employers about the quality of fresh graduates from some universities across Africa—because their skills that do not match employment needs.
The accusation is a bold statement of the characteristic wide rift between education institutions and the labour market needs.
While training should not only focus on equipping graduates with employment skills, failing to inculcate the skills in the graduates is no better than the lack of training.
Universities cannot uphold quality standards if they rely on cheap and half-baked academic staff. The attraction and retaining of the best dons and administrators should be the central focus.
Recruitment teams should be wary of fake certificates and testimonials that are proliferating each day. There are also flamboyant certificates from institutions that are not accredited.
On the other hand, universities should provide their input in periodic reviews of the national curriculum so as to address identifiable challenges in their structure and implementation.
The input will make the curriculum more elaborate and consistent with the contemporary trends in education and training.
Consideration of partnerships with high schools is worth consideration. Universities should guide high school students in career choices.
The dissemination of career knowledge can go a long way toward helping students to make proper subject choices and to even know the local availability of degree programs they may be interested in.
The massive outflow of prospective university students to universities outside Rwanda may be due to the scanty information about programmes offered by local universities or a complete disconnect between our universities and their clientele.
The author is the Director of Studies at Nu Vision High School, Kabuga.