This week started quite well as far as the university scene in the region is concerned. Finally, the Government of Uganda and the staff of Makerere University reached an understanding that saw the reopening of the region’s oldest university.
The abrupt closure of Makerere University happened just a few weeks after it had opened for the new academic year. The trouble had to do with the pension funds that lecturers have saved with National Insurance Corporation as well as demands for salary increases to match the current inflation that has affected the cost of living.
As is always the case, the students were the ones to suffer with this interruption as they were told to leave the university campus as soon as the decision to close was announced by the university council. The New Times even reported that several Rwanda students were stuck at the university.
For sometime now, Uganda has positioned itself as a country with affordable quality university education in the region. To this end, several Rwandans, Burundians, Tanzanians as well as Kenyans are flocking to Uganda for university education.
In such a situation, a problem at Makerere University eventually affects the whole region in one way or another. That is why it was quite a relief to hear that lecturers resumed work at the beginning of this week.
Before the warring parties at the campus could sit on a round table and agree, more amazing news came from back home in Rwanda with the confirmation that the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University plans to open a campus in Rwanda.
Carnegie Mellon is a leading university in technological innovation and its arrival here is nothing but, good news.
The university intends to start by offering a Master of Science degree in Information Technology with a multidisciplinary curriculum that strikes a fine balance between technology, business and innovation.
The initial intake is set at 40 but will gradually rise to 150 a few years later.
The benefits from this development are quite clear. Rwanda has invested a lot in steering the economy towards a knowledge based setup premised on the use of Information and Communication Technologies.
It is therefore a vote of confidence by the people at Carnegie to decide to work with Rwanda making it the first American university to do so in Central Africa.
It is also interesting to note that the campus will be open to other students from the region. Students attending Carnegie Mellon University - Rwanda will get the same qualifications as those attending Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus in the US.
It is important to note that the admission requirements will stay the same as those demanded of students wishing to join Carnegie Mellon in USA. This means that those intending to study at the Rwanda campus must be ready to work hard to make the required grades.
In other words, the creation of a Carnegie Mellon campus in Rwanda will result in a drop in the costs of training graduates but not in the standards set by the university.
Students will be saved from the trouble of flying to the US for quality university education. Quality is being brought home. All we have to do is up our game to match the standards set.
With such a quality university, the tide that sweeps students in the region to Uganda, India and other places will change direction as more students opt to stay home and study at the new campus.
Already, Mt. Kenya University has a campus in Rwanda and with Carnegie Mellon also opening shop soon, the future for Rwanda’s higher education looks blindingly bright.
All countries need a qualified human resource to drive development and Carnegie Mellon is only coming to help us achieve just that.
Our part of the deal is to produce quality graduates that are worthy of joining this prestigious institution. To the guys at Carnegie Mellon, Murakaza neza.