Government rejects qualifications, students redo courses

Students who graduated from three private universities will have to repeat some of the work in courses they have already completed before they can be employed or continue their studies at public institutions in Rwanda. The decision by the Rwandan Ministry of Education is affecting hundreds of students.

The ministry of education has cautioned against qualifications from the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS), the Catholic University of Rwanda (CUR) and the Uganda-based Cavendish University.

About 900 students from PIASS have been affected, but the ministry could not give a total figure for all three universities.

According to the Rwanda Minister of Education, Dr Valentine Uwamariya, Cavendish University is not accredited in Uganda and, therefore, qualifications obtained from the institution cannot be recognised in Rwanda.

She said students from Cavendish University should enrol in local universities and start afresh, as their qualifications cannot be accepted.

“We urged the affected students to seek readmission to local universities offering similar courses,” Uwamariya said.

Students who graduate from universities outside Rwanda have to apply for recognition of their qualifications (equivalence) from the Higher Education Council (HEC), which is part of the ministry of education in Rwanda, before they can start working.

Education officials said students at PIASS and CUR failed to complete the list of courses as per programme specifications required by the HEC.

Specifically, the council stated that students from the two institutions did not complete teaching internships which are required to become primary and secondary school teachers.

As a result, the Rwanda Ministry of Public Services and Labour, which recruits teachers and other employees, said in a letter: “Those who graduate from the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences and the Catholic University of Rwanda should be given one year to complete the [required part of the] course or be suspended while no public institution should hire graduates from the two universities.”

No wrongdoing

According to Abel Dufitumukiza, the director of academic affairs and quality assurance at PIASS, the HEC did not include the requirement for an internship in its accreditation programme.

“Initially, our students did not have to carry out the internship but rather had teaching practice at the microteaching level, which they did,” said Dufitumukiza.

Micro-teaching refers to a teacher training method whereby a teacher or trainee teacher reviews a recording of a teaching session to get constructive feedback from peers and or learners about what has worked and what improvements could be made to his or her teaching.

“This practice was also applied in some other universities. The students at these universities were not affected by the decision to redo the internship,” Dufitumukiza added.

He said that, after the university was informed about the problem, it reviewed its programme to allow students to carry out an internship before they graduated, but he called for the harmonisation of requirements.

“We appreciate that the ministry of education and the HEC are open to discussions. But there is a need to talk about the national qualification framework, and to harmonise guiding principles on the issuance of university credits at the different levels embedded in the accredited programmes,” he said.

One of the affected students from Cavendish University said she was not happy with the decision from the HEC.

“It is really discouraging. I enrolled in the university knowing it was accredited. I wonder whether all my efforts and expenses will have been in vain. I am not ready to redo courses,” she said, asking to remain anonymous.