The Ministry of Education has announced a decision to definitively close two faculties of Biomedical Laboratory Sciences and Medicine and Surgery of the University of Gitwe.
The Ministry, through its affiliated institution – Higher Education Council (HEC) conducted a comprehensive external Audit (CEA) in March 2017 at the school located in Ruhango district and made several recommendations.
A number of visits to assess compliance were conducted thereafter until it was decided that only continuing students would proceed while new enrolment was suspended for two years.
The decision, explained HEC, intended to allow continuing students to do a catch up program in laboratories.
In a press conference on Tuesday – January 29, the Minister of Education Eugene Mutimura said that the school has not implemented recommendations that were made and thus decided to close it definitively.
The minister said among other reasons, that; “the students of Medical laboratory technology do not conduct enough practical exercises.”
The Minister also cited the issue of fraud at the school whereby “some students faked signatures to confirm that they did internship at the Kigali based University teaching hospital.”
“The hospital confirmed the fraud this morning,” Mutimura said.
Also reported was the issue of teacher-students ratio whereby standards recommend one teacher/lecturer per 20 students.
However, Gitwe reportedly has one lecturer by 85 students.
The Minister said laboratory facilities are insufficient and the school admits students who do not qualify for medical courses.
Ministry says very serious concern arose when the vice chancellor of University of Gitwe reportedly ignored need for the school to hire highly-qualified medical lecturers.
“It’s really sad to hear the vice chancellor telling us that it is not necessary to have a sufficient number of lecturers, because for him, Rwanda is just a developing country, Rwanda is not America, a country that can set own standards,” Mutimura said quoting the Nigerian national.
“On this note, we have found it better, not just to suspend the programs, but to close them for good until the university applies afresh if they want to have medical programs.”
Mutimura defended that there is no point in allowing anyone to jeopardize the education system especially in this key faculty that is about saving lives.
The Decision is shocking – University Boss
The University of Gitwe told KT Press, that they received the decision of Ministry of Education to close the medical programs with shock.
“In the first place, we came on the invitation of the Ministry of education to get feedback from the previous assessment and were disappointed to hear that the programs are rather closed for good,” said Gerald Urayeneza, the Gitwe university legal representative.
Urayeneza said, “Our school abides by national standards and our position as school owners is totally different from the position of the vice chancellor.”
The school boss defended that they have enough lecturers contrary to the reports.
He maintains that the allegations of students forging signatures “were fabricated.”
“Let a competent institution examine the signatures,” Urayeneza said adding that the forgery allegations should affect only seven students, but the rest (27) should be allowed to graduate because an offense is peculiar.
In September 2018, Minister Eugene Mutimura was quoted by local media saying that the school had implemented recommendations at a rate of more than 85% and “would not fail to implement the remaining 15% to get the programs reopened.”