23 March 2002

Rwanda: Kigali students benefit from JKUAT facilities

Some 171 students from Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management (KIST) are undertaking their practicals at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

KIST is the government of Rwanda's first technological institute of higher learning. It offers degrees and diplomas in technical fields.

Because of the effects of genocide, Rwanda relies heavily on expatriates to offer many technical services. The country is recovering from the ruins of civil war and depends on supplementary overseas training in an effort to improve its development pace.

JKUAT's Faculty of Engi-neering,dean, Dr Ndirangu Kioni, says that the programme is part of the university's collaborative effort with external universities.

KIST and JKUAT signed a memorandum of understanding in 1997 in an effort to rebuild learning institutions that collapsed in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.

For the last three years, lecturers from the department of engineering have been involved in the development of a curriculum in an effort to meet the training needs for KIST.

KIST has already adopted the curriculum and it's working on creating departments for easier administration.

"We also provide supervisory services to the college as external examiners," Dr Kioni explained.

JKUAT has been instrumental in training staff from the institute in regional workshops sponsored by the Japanese Government.

The students from Rwanda are third and fourth years in environmental technology and electro-mechanical engineering. The introduction of the electro-mechanical course is intended to address a serious personnel shortage in electronic and mechanical engineering.

"By training students in both fields we ensure that they are able to fit in either field," Dr Nelson Lujara, KIST Faculty of Technology dean said.

The students accompanied by their lecturers have been in the country for two weeks. They have been undertaking extensive practicals to supplement what they learnt in Rwanda.

"It is not only a highly educative period but it has given us a lot of exposure because the laboratories and workshops are well equipped," Mr Ndeze Clement, a third year electro-mechanical students says.

"We have carried out a lot of experiments which have served to supplement what we learnt in theory back in our college," he added.

KIST has two campuses: Main campus within Kigali city centre and Rehema

Campus in the outskirts for pre-engineering students. The Rehema Campus houses science laboratories and the Centre for Innovations and Technology Transfer will be situated there.

The institute is vested with the role of introducing and strengthening scientific and technical knowledge and managerial skills within the country.

Within four years, the institute is progressively trying to build an indigenous scientific and technical human capital base, capable of propelling the country forward in its effort to develop all sectors of the economy.

"I hope to start my own workshop once I finish my degree programme. This way I will be able to contribute to the development of my country," says 25-year-old Clement.

By collaborating with JKUAT, the institute also hopes to train highly qualified personnel who can provide consultancy services to the government, the industry and the private sector.

In addition to degree courses the institute also offers diploma courses in all courses. Diploma programmes take three years while degree programmes take an average of four years.

JKUAT has been instrumental in enhancing regional training through the support of Japanese International Corporation Agency.

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