Victoire Ingabire urges Kagame to clear the Higher Education mess and not touch the student’s subsistence token
Rwanda: 24,000 students, victims of the Higher Education Mess
The varsities and colleges’ students are facing a serious downturn after the Education Minister, Mr. Charles MULIGANDE, last week revealed that the government is just stopping “the subsistence” portion of the student loan/bursary without offering any other alternative. As a result of those draconian measures aiming to limit the access of the poor to higher education, most children from rural areas will drop. More than 60% of the national population live under the poverty line. The eligibility criteria are more based on poor politics instead of a competitiveness and genuine priorities. The governmental scholarships, bursaries and grants are distributed chaotically and unfairly. It is a very strange move especially when the regime’s foreign lobbies are talking about an economic success story.
Given its serious challenges, the Rwandan higher education sector needs a drastic overhaul. The academic institutions and colleges are living a multiple crisis based on governmental lack of strategic vision; poor planning; language conflicts and a brutal shift of tuition languages; politicisation of the academic governance; discriminative admission policies and poor licensing standards. All this, is not conducive to building quality institutions of higher learning.
To the current dictatorship, it is ideologically impossible to resolve the high education paradox because it affects a large number of the ruling party officials who benefit from non-transparent governance and political partisanship. They are neither honestly committed to a strong, healthy higher education system nor to an equal access policy.
The mushrooming universities are not generating the educated workforce that Rwanda economy and society demand because over 70 percent of graduates are unable to find jobs in their areas of specialization, evidence that the disconnection between the policy and the needs of the market is huge.
Our academic institutions need more democracy, more autonomy, more academic freedom, merit-based selection, accountability and competitiveness. Scholarships and bursaries should be granted to all students from poor families without any political consideration. The promotion of staff, teachers and lecturers is still based on non scholastic criteria such as seniority, family and political background and connections.
The FDU-INKINGI calls upon the government not to touch the already small student’s subsistence token but instead to find compensations from other items of the national budget such as the presidential security systems and trips, the governmental propaganda expenses and travels.
Ms. Victoire INGABIRE UMUHOZA