More than 350 Microbiology graduates may never get employed unless they switch to the teaching profession.
According to Rwanda Allied Health Professional Council (RAHPC), the affected graduates must first acquire a three-month professional internship and later get certified by the council.
In a report by Senate Human Rights Commission, the students from former Kigali Institute of Sciences and Technology (KIST) have remained jobless as a result of studying courses irrelevant to the job market.
After graduating, the Rwanda Allied Health Professional Council claimed they were not fit to practice as lab attendants merely on basis of paper qualifications.
The students wrote to senate complaining over lack of employment opportunities even after spending four years at school studying a course that they expected would earn them an income.
Majority of these graduates had already been hired as lab technicians based on microbiology qualifications before they were banned in 2011.
However, their colleagues that graduated from Kigali Health Institute (KHI) continued getting employed – they possessed the right qualifications required for medical laboratory jobs.
Following this saga, ten of the students of 2016 intake refused to graduate under microbiology qualifications saying they would face the same consequences and demanded a round table talk on the way forward.
Senate investigation report presented by senator Gallican Niyongana this week indicates that they stood no chance of getting employed with these qualifications in a market that has very few manufacturing companies and factories where their skills could be of use.
The Senate commission made three recommendations after visiting all persons named in the case in October 2016, but the affected students remain unsatisfied.
For the graduates to be relevant in the market today, the senate recommended that they have to upgrade by enrolling for an advanced 2-year medical laboratory course.
“We asked the students to follow the recommendations because the university is willing to help them,” said senator Niyongana.
Senator Chrysologue Karangwa who used his teaching experience said the students are to blame for this mishap despite general syllabus loopholes.
“Students chose this course for themselves, they knew that it is not marketable and went ahead to pursue it. No one should be blamed but them,” Karangwa said.
After a heated debate on the report, members of the senate recommended that the students do as they were advised by the University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology, former KIST.
Battle line drawn
Petitioners’ representative, Emmanuel Shola Nsekanabo, who signed on the senate appeal letter says they are not satisfied with the university decision and the recommendation that they refused to heed advice is a lie.
“The University of Rwanda agreed to integrate us in Medical Technology and Research Department to upgrade our skills with professional internship for three months but they later wrote to us saying the course has been halted, and we should enroll at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) to become teachers. Can you believe this?” Nsekanabo said.
The graduates are now planning a major challenge against the University of Rwanda and they say that their case will be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s office after trying their lack with the lower parliament and senate.
“All we want is to be given the opportunity to upgrade our area of qualification. We will not graduate until the university does what we agreed in the letter they wrote to us in November 2016,” Nsekanabo said.
Poor quality medics
With a lack of enough medics, Rwanda has become a target ‘dumping’ ground for poor medical graduates despite its advantaged performance over the rest of the region.
An annual after-graduation examination to certify medical practitioners under the Rwanda Allied Health Professional Council (RAHPC) last year indicated gross infiltration in the medical fields with most of graduates not able to pass qualification tests.
Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi emerged as the top countries which offer medical students with skills that do not match requirements in Rwanda.
At least between 30 and 40 medical practitioners are reprimanded annually over varying cases of professional malpractices, according to the Rwanda Medical and Dental Council.