13 November 2012

Rwanda: Varsities Advised to Offer Training in Disaster Management

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs has challenged institutions of higher learning to consider introducing disaster management and risk reduction courses on their curriculum to improve human resource in the sector.

In an interview with The New Times, Justin Kayira, the Director of Disaster Management and Programme Coordination in the ministry said there is acute need for specialists in this field.

Kayira said among all the higher learning institutions in the country, there are only two universities offering disaster management courses.

He named them as Mount Kenya University and Kigali Independent University (ULK).

"Unless universities come up with or offer disaster management courses, we shall still have this problem because there are no enough specialists in this field," he said.

Kayira explained that his ministry developed disaster management modules for secondary education, adding that 168 secondary school teachers underwent training in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

These modules have been integrated into the secondary school curriculum as a general paper for senior six. This, according to Kayira, has helped secondary students to have general knowledge about disaster management.

"This simply means that students will use this knowledge to take up these courses even at high levels," he said.

When contacted, the Executive Director of the Higher Education Council, Prof. Geoffrey Rugege, said that the idea is good, but that the council does not determine which courses institutions must offer.

"We just monitor to ensure that these institutions are running smoothly, but the choice or courses they have to offer are their decision," Rugege said yesterday.

Prof. George Njoroge, the Rector of Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), said one of the reasons some institutions are not offering disaster management courses is that they focus on professionalism in other fields.

However, he was optimistic that the One University initiative that will see at least seven public universities merging could bring about innovation that may also include developing or coming up with new courses.

In addition to inadequate budget allocated to DRR compared to the priorities, the first progress report Rwanda submitted to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), in respect to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) for the years 2005 to 2015, indicated that there is also need to incorporate DRR courses in the education system.

The report was submitted on September, 30 and each member country was required to assess what countries have been able to implement in reducing risks.

The HFA is an initiative that was developed when UN member states converged in Hyogo, Japan in 2005, with an aim of coming up with strategic and efficient approaches to assist nations to become more resilient to disasters that pose threats to their development.

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