Thousands of graduates from the University of Rwanda and their families on Friday gathered for the graduation ceremony held at Huye Stadium in Huye District, Southern Province.
The university was holding the graduation for the sixth time after the merger of several public universities in 2014.
A total of 9,382 students graduated from the University's six colleges, including 3 488 females and 5 894 males.
The College of Business and Economics (CBE) registered the highest number of graduates (2,606) while the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) had the lowest number of graduates (638).
Of the graduates, 7,795 completed bachelor's degree programmes, 373 completed Master's Degree programmes while one graduated with a PhD degree.
The number of graduates has increased from 7,050 who graduated last year.
Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, who presided over the graduation ceremony, congratulated the university administration, graduands and their relatives for the achievement.
"I congratulate our students and thank all those who have contributed to their successful academic journey," he said. "Credit also goes to the University leadership, academic and support staff as well as partners who have continued to provide a conducive learning environment to our students. As a country, we have set education as key to development."
Ngirente hailed the innovations introduced by the university in teaching, learning, and research, encouraging it leadership to sustain investments in the same direction.
The Prime Minister also used the graduation platform to welcome University of Rwanda's new Chancellor, Prof Patricia B. Campbell, who joined the graduation for her first time alongside other dignitaries.
Accelerating economic growth and development founded on the country's human capital is one of the main pillars of the government's National Strategy for Transformation (NST) 2017-2024.
This, Ngirente said, invites us as policymakers and partners in the education sector, to work on the quality of education at all levels of our education system in order to develop Rwandans into a capable and skilled labour force.
To achieve a number of strategies adopted and communicated to boost and support quality teaching, learning and research at the University of Rwanda, the Government has implemented a sustainable financing model to guarantee financial sustainability.
Prof Philipp Cotton, the University Vice-Chancellor thanked the government for unfailing commitment to the University, tasking the graduands to invest the skills acquired from the university to impact the national economic development.
"Form today it is your turn to show the world that you are indeed worth of the degrees you will soon hold. The pursuit of knowledge is a life-long endeavor, and it must be complemented with the right values and character. Work humbly and generously, be humane and make a difference in our communities," he said.
Students' allowances increased again
Last year, students' living allowance was increased from Rwf25,000 to Rwf35,000 per month.
Plans are underway to raise the living allowance Rwf40,000 as decided by the Cabinet meeting of February 14, 2018 to improve students' welfare as well as to create a conducive environment for their daily education.
Ngirente said the government committed to continue to deliver salaries and benefits for the University academic and administrative staff on time to ensure the academic stability of its students.
So far, the university is hosting a number of Centers of Excellence in different fields and these centers have attracted both national and foreign students in large numbers for Masters and PhD programs.
Following students' reallocation to different University of Rwanda's campuses across in secondary cities, Ngirente said there is no doubt that the university is now dedicated to moving the country towards the knowledge-based economy.
The Minister appealed to the graduates to committedly use their academic skills in serving the society in the country and overseas.
"I am confident that you have been well prepared for the life ahead. Go and be role models in your communities, aim to impact and transform lives in the society, be agents of positive change and serve the society with commitment," he said.
Steven Mira, a graduate from the College of Business and Economics (CBE) who spoke on behalf of the graduands told The New Times that though the labour market is too small, graduates are more focused on using the skills acquired from the university to create their own jobs.
"The journey has been really tricky but I am happy that I have finally achieved what I have been pursuing. We have what it takes to compete in the labour market. Most importantly, we are ready to support the government's policy in job creation by using our skills," he said.
He, however, appealed to the university to give undergraduates a chance and support them in their research publications.
"We, graduates, want to show what we can offer with the skills we got from the university, and we want to prove it through researches. We will need the university to give undergraduates a chance and help them publish their researches because we want to share Rwandans with what we learnt from university," he said.
Bonne Esperance Housna, 25, graduated from the College of Education.
She said she is ready to contribute to the development of the education sector.
"We are happy and proud of what we have achieved so far. But there is still a long way to go and I see we can only achieve something big if we join hands because we are already aware the country is awaiting our contribution in its continued journey of development," she said.
Like graduands, friends and family members who attended the ceremony were excited.
"I am proud of my son because he finally realized the dream he had for years. It was not easy but I had to sacrifice a lot to support him in this journey. As his mother, I am only wishing him the best in his future because the journey is still so long. He owes the country a lot," said Annonciata Mujawimana, a parent.
The event was characterised by ceremonial processions that preceded the conferment of degrees to the more than 9,382 graduates.
Prof Philipp Cotton, the University Vice-Chancelllor and Charles Muligande during the graduation ceremony.
Prime Minister Dr Ngirente Edouard officiates at the 6th UR Graduation Ceremony in Huye.
Graduates of the University of Rwanda's sixth graduation ceremony held at Huye Stadium in Huye District, Southern Province yesterday. / Sam Ngendahimana
It was all smiles as thousands of students to celebrate their achievements.
Vincent Ntaganira was awarded PHD in Litterature.
Some graduands raise their right hand as they took the oath.
Dr. Patricia Campbell, the Chancellor of the University of Rwanda and Prof Philipp Cotton, the University Vice-Chancelllor interact during the event.