Quality education can be a reality when education stakeholders bring together their efforts instead of playing the game of mutual blame; says Father Fabien Hagenimana, the Vice Chancellor of INES Ruhengeri.
In an exclusive interview with The Express News, he says quality education in Rwanda is a journey and that there is still a long way to go.
He said that there are different theories of assessing quality education. While the internalist theory focuses oninstitutional visibility from within includinginfrastructures, facilities, management, staff, teaching and learning process, programs and finances, externalist theory puts emphasis on the institutional visibility from without including impact on the surrounding community, relevance of the graduates and employability.
He added that, the two theories can work better when they do not exclude each other. He also suggested four windows that can help to assess quality education: input, process, environment (physicaland social) and output. Input includes but not limits to infrastructures, facilities, programmes, staff, students, finance, management system and policies. Quality at this level of input tends to impact on people’s opinion on the university.
“However, the second window, process, is equally important as it reflects the identity the institution in terms of education service delivery. The process includes but does not limit to class management, mentorship, student’s support, staff development, industrial/clinical attachments management, integration of the industry in the teaching and learning process, assessment, etc.” he said.
The third window is the environment that is conducive to academic activities. The last window is of course the university graduates. How the perform after graduation and people’s perception on their knowledge, competence and attitude.
Weaknesses and ways out
Hagenimana said that students have weaknesses in communication skills and systematic reasoning capacities.
“The problem of communication skills is a big handicap to students’ performance. But it is not a sufficient reason of not delivering quality education. We have a language centre to support students. We also have bridging programs for students joining engineering and science programs. As for school fees, INES is aware that many parents have limited financial capacities. This has led to look for other sources such that students who are self-sponsored are asked to pay only 65% of the unity cost.
He said that knowledge, professionalism and discipline are the best criteria INES provides to its students to move forward.
He challenged University leaders to focus on quality education instead of looking at education as a source of money. Even those who wish to get rich through education should remember that “rich people did not work for money but they worked for quality”.
Why studying in Rwanda?
Many students and parents spend time and money looking for opportunities to study abroad forgetting the value of studying in Rwanda.
Studying abroad has its own advantages but it also constitutes a challenge to the development of the country: a lot of money is taken abroad, students are not educated in the context of their country, some get spoiled by lack of adaptation to other cultures. The effect of promoting quality education in Rwanda is to educate students in their context and to attract education tourism, he said.
“The public private partnership (PPP) can be another way of solving the problem although people have not yet understood how best to promote it for mutual benefit. This can be successful once we understand that education is not one man’s show but partnership.” Hagenimana said.
Advice to schools
“I need to tell people that schools are not business centres, rather, they’re sources of knowledge and professionalism and work for the quality.”
He advised his colleagues investors in education to strive for quality and money will follow.
He also advised policy makers to establish a clear plan which is inclusive with focus on quality in both public and private higher learning Institutions.
He said that quality education will raise Tourism that is based on education when the government puts in more efforts.
“We at INES Ruhengeri, we are happy that we are accomplishing our goals. Since the beginning we wanted to contribute to the needs of the country and we are making it, we give our help to ones with low financial capacity, middle and others with higher financial capacity.”
He concluded by telling students and parents that striving for quality and success is INES’s goal, calling students to join the new intake at INES Ruhengeri.
The Express News