Minister Twagirayezu urges employers to provide meaningful opportunities for students

By Esther Muhozi
On 29 March 2024 at 05:54

The Minister of Education, Gaspard Twagirayezu, has emphasized the significance of vocational training at the University of Rwanda (UR), suggesting that partnerships between educational institutions and industry can greatly benefit both students and employers.

He was speaking during discussions with UR’s leadership and stakeholders held on March 28, 2024, where he highlighted the mutual advantages of such collaborations.

Florence Namarinzi, a UR alumna, shared her internship experience, noting the lack of substantial support from hosting industries. Instead of engaging in practical tasks relevant to her studies, she found herself performing menial duties.

Dr. Ndikumana Raymond, Deputy Vice Chancellor of UR, addressed the willingness of some institutions to provide practical training, contingent on insurance coverage for their equipment. He announced agreements aimed at facilitating vocational training for around 4,200 UR students, highlighting the negotiation challenges regarding equipment insurance.

Minister Twagirayezu advocated for a shift in perspective towards student interns, urging employers to recognize the value and capabilities of these learners.

He stated, "Help us understand how we can improve the way internship is conducted. Sometimes we tend to see it as if we are doing these kids a favor, thinking they come with no knowledge and might damage the equipment, which is probably why there’s talk of, ‘if I take your students, you’ll have to cover the insurance for my equipment.’”

“I tell you these students have knowledge, and you, the host, want them to gain beneficial skills, you want them to contribute to the development of your institution. They should be given responsibilities that match their abilities and we should help them grow within our institutions, instead of seeing them as a problem to solve, but rather as individuals who will deliver results,” Twagirayezu added.

The Acting Vice Chancellor of UR, Prof. Didas Kayihura Muganga, highlighted UR’s unique position as a comprehensive university offering a wide range of disciplines. He emphasized the importance of collaboration with both public and private sector employers in designing academic programs.

Mireille Karera, reflecting on UR’s achievements and challenges over the past decade, suggested more innovative approaches to aligning academic offerings with industry needs.

Currently, UR has six colleges since establishment in 2013 catering to over 31,213 students. These include the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS), College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (CAVM), College of Business and Economics (CBE), College of Education (CE), College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS), and College of Science and Technology (CST).

The UR management reports that 25% of students who complete their studies there find employment within six months of leaving.

Students who excelled in the 2022/2023 academic year were immediately offered permanent positions in various institutions, while others received paid internships.

In 2023, 8321 students graduated from the University of Rwanda. Among them, 221 received bachelor’s degrees, 7435 master’s degrees, 627 postgraduate diplomas, and 38 were awarded PhDs.

Outstanding students were awarded laptops and offered internships and job opportunities at various institutions.
Minister Twagirayezu emphasized the importance of viewing students as key solutions for institutional challenges.
Numerous institutions were impressed by the students' performance, surpassing that of their own employees, and opted to offer them jobs.
Dr. Raymond highlighted the issue that certain institutions demand payment before allowing students access to their machinery.
The event brought together executives from various institutions.
The panel delved into the collective responsibility towards the development of the University of Rwanda.
UR and its partners have agreed on working together to build a university that fosters solutions to Rwandan society.