In 2000, Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda and Burundi jointly established a university to train catechists that were needed to continue with the Church’s works in both countries.
The university was owned by ACOREB (Association de Conseil Episcopal du Rwanda et du Burundi), and was under direct supervision of the Butare Diocese.
Students received specialised training in catechism and psycho-pedagogy (education and school management) in catholic institutions.
Christian Habyarimana , a Rwandan, had always wanted to pursue a Masters degree after completing undergraduate studies from Institut Supérieure Pédagogique et Cathechèse (ISPC).
But the hopes remained as the biblical promise of the return of Jesus Christ.
Eight years ago, this year, Habyarimana is still waiting for his academic transcript. The only document he was given was a ‘To Whom It May Concern’.
“The school gave us a document titled ‘to whom it may concern’ but it can’t help us apply for jobs,” said Habyarimana.
Habyarimana and about 180 affected students exerted pressure on the university demanding for degree transcripts. They failed, miserably. Instead, the Church closed the university in 2010.
“We kept asking our university to give us our transcripts and the response was always “be patient we are working on it.” Later on, we were promised that the university would make an arrangement for us to graduate under the catholic university of Rwanda (CUR).”
However, Rwanda’s High Council of Education advised this would only work if the CUR founded in 2010 was accredited and had programs the students attended, but the two conditions were not met.
“My education dream is vanishing, and so is my children’s,” said the father of two who has a part-time job in Nyamagabe district, also adding that many of his colleagues have failed to find jobs since then.
However, the despair maybe no more. There is good news.
Bishop Jean Marie Vianney Gahizi, the CUR Rector has told KT Press, “After accreditation of CUR in 2014, the students from the closed university will now graduate in our second intake next month.”
In several consultations took place between the ministry of education and CUR on the matter. It was agreed that several experts in catechism and psycho-pedagogy had to come together and confirm whether the students qualify in the first place.
They had also to agree upon which departments the students could graduate at CUR.
The experts from ministry of education, CUR and independent experts defended the students and last year, they were accepted as qualifying for Bachelor degrees.
As a a result, 66 students who completed the Catechism program now fit in the new program of catechism available at CUR, while those in psycho-pedagogy fit in the program of Education Management and Planning.
Of the 180 students, 157 registered for graduation due on March 17, 2016 at CUR Alexi Kagame Campus (Gisagara District), but the remaining ones can also register for next year if they want to graduate.
“We know some of the students suffered a lot, and indeed, we are happy that finally the problem is solved and they can get what they deserve,” said Bishop Gahizi.
Fred Mugisha, the Director General of High Education Council told KT Press, that the ministry does not have a similar case in other institutions.
“We are grateful that we advised parties on the path to follow and they were successful,” he said.