Rwanda and Mauritius have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the two countries work more closely in the field of education.
The agreement was signed yesterday at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Kacyiru between Emmanuel Muvunyi, the executive director of the Higher Education Council, and Prof. Sid Nair, the executive director of the Tertiary Education Commission of Mauritius.
Muvunyi said the agreement formalises existing cooperation between the two countries' higher education regulatory bodies.
"We've been partnering before and sharing expertise with Mauritius, including the recent audit of universities in Rwanda done last year by a team of external evaluators, one of them from Mauritius," Muvunyi said, explaining that the main purpose of the MoU is to share experiences and good education practices between Rwanda and Mauritius.
"The other reason for the MoU is to share expertise. Sometimes you need to conduct an audit or training or to develop things and you can share expertise with another country. Students study anywhere. When Rwandan students from Mauritius, for example, return with their qualifications, normally they're asked for an equivalent of the requisite academic qualifications so we have to consult to verify and confirm about qualifications," he said.
Muvunyi added that, having undergone rapid socio-economic development in the recent past, the two countries share a lot in common.
"Mauritius has made significant progress in the areas of technology, industry and infrastructure, so we think it's an opportunity to learn from them," he said.
Prof. Nair underscored the importance of quality higher education, which he described as critical to the peoples of both countries.
"If you're going to bring Rwanda into the international arena, then you have to bring your higher education to a level accepted internationally. The Higher Education Council is championing that effort. I would say, in a decade, Rwanda will be where it would want to be in the international arena."
Nair said shifting trends on the job market have resulted into increased unemployment among graduates, and urged attitude shift in education approaches.
"Unemployment of graduates is a global challenge. This does not necessarily mean that there are no jobs, but the jobs are changing. Universities are producing graduates, but by the time the graduates reach the market, the jobs are different. Education has to change and cater for what the future requires us to have, so employable skills have to actually be factored into the curriculum," he said.
Before the MoU signing, Prof. Nair had a session with vice-chancellors from varsities in the country, with whom he shared the experience of regulatory bodies and education institutions in Mauritius.