Seven students pursuing their Master’s Development Practice (MDP) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland; were hosted by the University of Rwanda (UR) Huye campus on Monday, 25th May 2015. Their stay in Rwanda is in the framework of the partnership between TCD&UCD and UR to help MDP students undertake internship in Rwanda.These students will engage in research about Mining, Health, Climate Change and Conservation, Gender and Financing, Psychology, Reconciliation and Reintegration.
Mr. Birasa Nyamulinda, the Program Coordinator of TCD&UCD and UR partnership at UR; indicates that this partnership has been very fruitful to the two partner sides since 2010 when it started with the former National University of Rwanda and currently with UR. “Since 2010, a number of students from TCD&UCD came here to conduct their research in order to compare theories and realities on the field when it comes to implementation of development policies. On the Rwandan side, at present, there are two UR academic staff members who are completing soon their PhD studies at UCD thanks to this partnership”, Mr. Birasa explained. He also mentioned that through the partnership, UR’s College of Business and Economics will start offering MDP program in the near future as today the project is on the stage of curriculum designing.
STUDENTS INTRODUCED TO HISTORY OF RWANDA
As these students had just little knowledge about Rwanda, they were introduced to the history of this country by Mr. Bernard Rutikanga, a Lecturer at UR’s College of Arts and Social Sciences who is doing his PhD in History. He took these students through the history of Rwanda starting from pre-colonial period up to Present. His presentation revealed that before colonial period, Rwanda was an organized country under Monarchy administration whose citizens were living in harmony but when colonizers came in; they divided the population by turning their social classes into ethnic groups through a census that based on the number of cows owned by a household whereby any person owning ten cows was classified a Tutsi, any other possessing less than ten cows or who lives on farming was classified a Hutu whereas those who live on hunting and pottery were identified as Twas. Mr. Rutikanga went on explaining how colonizers issued identity cards mentioning each person’s ethnic groups and how the results of census put the majority of Rwandans in the category of Hutus because the majority of Rwandans were depending on farming.
He showed how colonizers’ divisionism resulted in the Genocide perpetrated against Tutsis in 1994. In this regard he explained that Late 1950’s, colonizers started befriending Hutus by showing them that their real oppressors are Tutsis not colonizers which means Hutus were advised to fight Tutsis. Consequently, in 1959, during what was called revolution for the mass, Tutsis were forced into exile and their properties were destroyed. According to Mr. Rutikanga, in 1962, when Rwanda got independence, people on power prevented Tutsi refugees to come back and on top of that, Tutsis who were still in Rwanda were discriminated in different sectors namely Education, employment, administration, military service, etc. Some years later, Tutsi refugees formed an armed group which tried to overthrow the government in the years after independence period until 1967 and any time the rebels could attack, Tutsis were subject to killings being accused of complicity. He enlightened some signs of Genocide when peace agreement between the then government and rebel movement:Rwanda Patriotic Front which invaded Rwanda in 1990 was aborted and the Genocide was executed in 1994 to see a million Tutsis get slaughtered.
Speaking about the post-Genocide period, Mr. Bernard Rutikanga asserted that this new era for Rwanda was characterized by efforts of government established after RPF stopped the Genocide. He said this government faced an uphill to climb as far as Unity and Reconciliation is concerned but thanks to its efforts by setting many policies focusing on Unity and reconciliation through Power sharing, Justice like Gacaca traditional courts, Abolition of ID’s with ethnic groups, Repatriation of refugees and so on, Rwanda is today a peaceful country.
SECURITY CHALLENGES IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION
The topic of Security in the Great Lakes Region was also covered by TCD&UCD students. Dr. Innocent Ndahiriwe who presented this topic, affirmed that many research findings reveal that wars in this region result from bad leaderships which do not meet the needs of citizens. He added that there are also individuals or organizations that stimulate conflicts in this region in order to exploit natural resources.
EDUCATION IN RWANDA
For any university student, when he/she comes to a given country, he/she becomes about curious about how education looks like in the host country. It is in this regard that Dr. Jonas Barayandema delivered a presented to MDP students, the status of Education in Rwanda. He talked about the structure of Education in Rwanda which consists of Pre-primary, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education. He also pointed out how the government of Rwanda is developing Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET). Speaking about the historical background of UR, Dr. Barayandema explained that this institution was established in 2013 combining all public higher learning institutions in Rwanda with aim to improve quality of teaching and learning with a mission to creating a world-class higher learning institution. He highlighted that UR is composed of six colleges each one per specific discipline.
One of the students taking MDP program, Miss Kelly Williamson told University of Rwanda Public Relations Office that she believes her internship in Rwanda will help her to learn how environment preservation correlates with economic development especially in developing countries. As far as how she has found Rwanda for some days she has been here, Miss Williamson states that she was impressed by what Rwanda has achieved in a short time after Genocide particularly in terms of infrastructures and economic development but the cleanliness around the country caught her eye.
During their internship in Rwanda, MDP students will be working with different organizations across the country till August 2015 and will have an opportunity to collect data for their research projects.
TCD&UCD MDP students in the morning of the 25th May 2015 when they were being introduced to the History of Rwanda.
Dr. Jonas Barayandema giving an overview on Education in Rwanda.
TCD&UCD MDP students following the presentation on Education in Rwanda.
Dr. Innocent Ndahiriwe talking about Security Challenges in the Great Lakes Region.
Story by Jean-Baptiste Micomyiza