Broad-based education essential to Rwanda’s devt

Rwanda’s Vision 2020 is a socio-economic roadmap that is guiding the country’s drive towards a middle income economy by the year 2020. Rwanda, according to this plan, will be a knowledge-based economy with a professional working class.

Rwanda’s Vision 2020 is a socio-economic roadmap that is guiding the country’s drive towards a middle income economy by the year 2020. Rwanda, according to this plan, will be a knowledge-based economy with a professional working class.

The government has decided, in its education policy, that science subjects like Information Technology and the like are to be prioritised so that Rwanda becomes the regional hub of IT excellence.

Tertiary institutions like KIST and the National University of Rwanda have taken this to heart and have put a larger emphasis on these subjects. However, I beg to differ from this all-science emphasis by the government.

Not because I don’t dream of a tech-savy Rwandan populace to be realised, but rather because I believe that a nation of only scientists will not provide a sufficient platform for Rwanda’s rise into a truly broad-based economy.

Let’s look at the various holes in the education sector and work on the hypothesis that we’ve finally become a high tech society full of labs, IT firms and the like. Who will manage this wealth creation?

Who will work in the banks where this wealth is kept?

Who will mediate the disputes that are going to be before the courts of law?

Who will be the marketing gurus for these high-tech companies?

I’m talking about the lawyers, business managers, financiers and marketers. What I’m trying to put across is the fact that even the most tech-saturated areas like Silicon Valley, California are awash with people from the above fields.

The IT sector cannot work in a vacuum and I’m afraid that Rwanda’s emphasis on IT is leading to the elbowing aside of other parts of the job sector. The argument that Rwanda is awash with people from the ‘arts’ is a fallacy.

Let’s take a look at the legal sector. Presently, Rwanda has a backlog of cases in the criminal department that will take years to unravel, and according to some estimates, a contractual dispute among various parties can take up to a year to be resolved!

Can you imagine that -  a whole 365 days just to enforce a contract! How can Riepa do its job of attracting foreign investment if they (the investors) aren’t sure whether they can enforce their contractual obligations in a timely manner?

The Ministry of Justice is putting in place a specialised Commercial Court chamber but who’d going to work in it?Lawyers. Let’s look at another opportunity that Rwanda should be able to realise.

It’s a fact that Rwanda’s diverse topography is second to none in the region. From classical savannah in the Eastern Province to rainforest in the Nyungwe, this diversity in scenery should be a film-maker’s Mecca.

Infact, a couple of film projects have already been realised recently. But it is sad to see that the majority of specialised staff have to be brought in from Kenya and Rwandans are often only used as film extras.

Our multi-lingualism should make us even more competitive, but first we must have film schools, and if not, at least a cinematography programme at the National University.

It’s amazing that when you look at the entertainment sector, Rwanda is devoid of any theatres of note or art galleries other than one in Nyanza (which, because of its distance from the capital, very few people have a chance to see).

It’s a plain fact that culture is essential as nourishment for the human spirit. But this arts and culture industry must be given encouragement and nurtured. This can only be done by the government because of the fact that most tertiary institutions of note are state-backed.

One might argue that there isn’t enough money in the state coffers and prioritisation in the education sector is essential, more especially because a tech-sector is the way forward if we are to realise Vision 2020.

However, it is my belief that unless subjects of an ‘arty’ nature, instead of being sidelined, are given a bit more priority, we shall see gaps appear in other parts of the economic sector.

Remember, any skill can be a source of employment and revenue. Even when it has nothing to do with a PC.

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