Omitting social stratification requirements for scholarship loans should be reconsidered Dr. Murigande

By IGIHE
On 23 January 2020 at 09:05

In December 2019, Prime Minister Ngirente announced that Ubudehe social stratification will no longer serve as a requirement for students to be able to access government scholarships.

He stated it during the annual national dialogue ‘Umushyikirano2019’ which happened from December 17th to December 19th, 2019.

The announcement addressed the concern of Uwihirwe Theodosie, a teacher at Burera Primary School who said her family was wrongly placed in the third category of Ubudehe hence denying her children government scholarship opportunities when in fact they could not afford to pay for higher education.

“All primary school teachers have been placed in the third Ubudehe category but in reality, our low income does not allow us to send our children at the university. We request the support of the government on this matter so that our children can also receive higher education.”

She suggested that instead of considering Ubudehe stratification as a requirement to receiving the scholarship, children should only be judged on merit and only receive scholarships because they have excellent grades.

Minister Ngirente replied to her saying “Ubudehe categories will no longer be the basis in providing scholarships to students for varsity studies. Going forward, students will be selected according to their competence in school and their grades instead of their social status.”

Dr. Charles Muligande, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Rwanda (UR) in charge of institutional advancement suggested that the decision should be carefully implemented as it will lure even capable families to seek for government scholarships just because their children succeeded with good grades.

Dr. Murigande stated it on Tuesday, 22nd January 2020 during a press conference with the High Education Council (HEC) and the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) about concerns that have been raised regarding the distribution of stipends to university students.

He said that even though social stratifications will no longer be considered, the allocated budget for government scholarships will remain the same.

“The government works within its means to provide university scholarships but it does not mean the students who are supported are the only ones who need to pursue higher education. The national budget just cannot afford a bigger number for the moment. We establish requirements to apply for the scholarships because the loans should be allocated to children who really cannot afford to pursue higher studies. Social stratification was one of the requirements which allowed us to offer scholarships to the truly deserving ones.”

Dr. Murigande said that implementing the decision not to consider social stratifications might deprive children of poor families the opportunity of pursuing higher education.

“Children from wealthy families are highly likely to succeed because they have all the facilities for it, but it is the contrary for poor children who cannot even afford more than one meal a day. How can the two children perform equally in school?”

Rose Mukankomeje, the Director-General of HEC said that implementing the decision was put on hold as it is still being discussed how to smartly execute it.

On June 24th, 2016, the cabinet of Rwanda ruled that scholarship loans will mainly target students in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centers as well as those pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) studies. The students were to be selected only if they belonged from the first to the third Ubudehe category.

Dr. Murigande said that implementing the decision not to consider social stratifications might deprive children of poor families the opportunity of pursuing higher education.
Rose Mukankomeje, the Director-General of HEC said that implementing the decision was put on hold as it is still being discussed how to smartly execute it.

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