20 November 2012

Rwanda: Lawmakers Debate Varsity of Rwanda Bill

Photo: Jared Nyataya
Graduation (file photo): In the proposed structure, the University of Rwanda will be comprised of colleges, schools and departments not faculties as the case currently.

The parliamentary standing committee on education yesterday commenced its deliberations on a bill establishing the University of Rwanda.

Addressing the committee, the minister of education, Dr. Vincent Biruta, said they were open to suggestions in order to make the bill better.

"If there is something that we missed out that should be added, we can discuss and find the best solution. We are open to suggestions since all we want is a university that will operate efficiently," said Biruta.

The university will be created out of a merger seven existing institutions of higher learning, which will effectively become colleges depending on their disciplines of focus.

"The regulations and standards governing all these institutions, currently, are dissimilar yet they are all public institutions," Biruta said on Monday.

According to the minister, the university will initially be made up of six colleges; namely; the college of science and technology, college of business and economics and college of medicine and health sciences.

Others will be the college of agriculture and animal husbandry, college of arts and social sciences and the college of open distance learning.

According to the draft, the university's headquarters will be located in Kigali.

Recently the government appointed a task force comprising of eminent academics to fast track the project.

Speaking to The New Times, the parliamentary committee chairperson, Agnès Mukazibera, said that they are hopeful that the bill will be fast tracked.

"We will actually be working to ensure that by the time the next academic year begins, it will be ready, and the project can be properly implemented," Mukazibera said.

The bill was presented to parliament by Biruta last month where he said it was a matter of urgency to enable students and staff at the merged universities to start the next academic year under a new setting.

The next academic year begins September 2013.

The project which is an attempt by the Ministry of Education to better coordinate teaching activities in public higher education, aims to ease coordination, resource sharing, prevent proliferation and duplication of program, and ensure improved academic excellence.

Institutions to be merged include; the National University of Rwanda (UNR); Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST); Kigali Institute of Education (KIE); the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAE); the School of Finance and Banking (SFB); "Umutara Polytechnic" Higher Institute (UP); and Kigali Health Institute (KHI).

According to Article 6, UR has several key responsibilities including participating in the discovery, transmission and preservation of knowledge and to stimulate the intellectual life and cultural development of Rwanda.

It will also be charged with diffusing research findings through oral, written and other various means and to collaborate with other higher learning institutions in the publication of research findings so as to foster Rwanda's development.

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