Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has officially handed over custodianship of Carnegie Mellon University-Africa (CMU-Africa) to the Ministry of education with plans to have at least half of the graduate students coming from Rwanda.
The handover was done this Friday March 1, 2019 between RDB CEO, Claire Akamanzi and the Education Minister Dr. Eugene Mutimura, meaning that the latter will now oversee quality assurance and education policy implementation.
With Rwanda being the custodian of the CMU-Africa- which is a center of excellence for the Africa hub, the ministry of education said that more Rwandans will be enrolled in the highly competitive university.
“As per the agreement we intend to have half or more than half of the students at CMU coming from Rwanda to cut on sending students abroad for the same training that is equally available here,” said Dr. Mutimura.
Since establishing its Africa operation in 2011 with Rwanda as center of excellence and signing memorandum with Rwanda government, CMU has released five graduate classes of 145 master’s students. Out of these Rwanda has managed to graduate 104 (80%) students.
In the current intake, Rwandan students represent 50% according to Crystal Rugege, the CMU Director of Strategy.
As it is the case at CMU Pittsburg, the Masters programe at CMU Africa takes two years.
The university considers students excellence, innovation, and the societal relevance of its pursuits and only has a 7% intake out of hundreds of applications.
Despite Rwandan students being competent and eligible, they have faced a challenge of the English language competence examination- known as Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), according to Akamanzi.
To increase this number, the ministry said that they will ensure Rwandans are prepared to pass the TOEFL exams. CMU will also increase its secondary school English teaching project.
“We have hired someone to specifically manage the Rwanda recruitment program, but we have also introduced preparatory programmes with four-weeks orientation to enable applicants succeed in English,” Rugege said.
Putting all this aside, RDB officials who have overseen the establishment of the CMU project -initially as an ICT project for Rwanda, say that its existence and growth will impact on tourism and economic development.
“The effect of having CMU here is in itself a big return on investments, because the more foreign students and their visiting families come here the more they spend while in Rwanda which impacts on the economy but also having our own students get a global quality education is an achievement,” Akamanzi said.
CMU Africa Relocates to $ 10 Million Hub Next Semester
CMU-Africa is currently renting space at Telecom House, but with the completion of the new state-of-the-art facility, the University is set to relocate to its newly constructed $10 million campus located in the Kigali Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) in what is known as Kigali Innovation City.
According to Claire Akamanzi, the opening of the facility will be done mid this year, but not December 2019.
The Innovation city will also host other academic centers of excellence (CoE) operating in Rwanda such as the African Leadership University (ALU), and African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), some faculties of University of Rwanda among others.