Rwanda Forensic Laboratory (RFL) says it is discussing with local universities on integrating forensic science as a basic course for students to have overview on forensic services provided in the country and in Africa.
The move follows five years of forensic lab services, since the establishment of the RFL in 2018.
The RLF delivers various services including questioned documents and fingerprint tests, ballistics, conducting computer related investigation, drug and chemistry services, toxicology services, biology/DNA services, and digital forensic Services.
Other services include Forensic Legal Medicine services and Microbiology services.
“We are discussing with university authorities to integrate forensic science as a basic course. We have discussed with several institutions, for, Institute Of Legal Practice And Development (ILDP), next year that package will be added to their students’ curriculum,” Dr. Charles Karangwa, Director General of RFL said.
“It can be an optional basic course, and for those who want to specialize in it will have basic knowledge and can go ahead with it. It will be established in universities, for secondary schools, it would be overloading them,” Dr. Karangwa stated.
He made the observation during an exclusive interview with KT Press on March 2.
Next week, several university professors will be among participants and are expected to discuss ways to teach forensic science to universities during the African Society of Forensic Medicine (ASFM).
The two-day conference, scheduled for March 8–10, 2023, has a number of topics up for discussion, including human tissue banking, dead body management, dead immigrant identification, disaster response and management, gender-based violence prevention, crime scene management, and harmonised evidence-based forensic science practice.
“Harmonization of Evidence-Based Forensic Science Practice in Africa- A Holistic Approach Towards a Safer Continent” is the theme of the event, which is taking place for the tenth time. It also attempts to talk about how forensic science methods might be improved on the African continent.
Dr. Karangwa pointed out that secondary school students can just have the awareness about forensic science services for them to have a choice of specializing to study them in future.
He added that basic forensic science can be taught in courses including public health, law, Medicine, Biology and Chemistry.
From Lab to research, and training Institute
For the five years of operation, RFL is planning to expand from offering routine forensic lab services to a research and training institution that operates in the country and the region.
Expanding RFL from the lab to the institute is structured in the law and strategic plan of its foundation, according to Dr. Karangwa.
“In the law and strategic plan for its foundation, RFL is supposed to expand from the lab to an institute. If you are a lab, you do things that are routine, pre-established. But when you are an institute, you have an arm of research and training. In routine, you can meet challenges of finding things which are not pre-established; new methodology, for example testing DNA from bones,” he stated.
“However, when you are an institute, you have a team of researchers and they can provide home grown solutions. Then they can develop the methodology to be used in the lab,” Dr. Karangwa added.
In the upcoming ASFM event, police officials, prosecutors, forensic scientists, university professors and other experts will participate in discussing ways of improving forensic services.