Hundreds of education programme students in two Southern Province-based universities risk missing out on employment opportunities after their academic certificates were rendered invalid.
This comes as several local private institutions have come under scrutiny over failure to have the necessary infrastructure and resources to provide quality education.
Rwanda Today has learnt that the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) and the Catholic University of Rwanda (CUR) awarded intermediate certificates to students after completing level three of the three-year-long education programme, which many used to secure employment as others sought teaching occupations using the awards.
The affected students, however, say that despite universities arguing that they had secured licenses to provide the certificates, a number of districts in the country had sidelined them in this year’s massive recruitment of teaching staff to fill vacancies created by the on-going expansion of classrooms.
“Karongi and Rutsiro were the first districts to reject our certificates, yet our peers in other districts were allowed to sit exams, and many were already employed including myself. Now we wonder why it has become a problem now,” one of the students complained to Rwanda Today.
Higher Education Council’s recent audit of the programme declared the certificate holders ineligible for teaching, after concluding that they lacked exposure to practical modules for teaching and internship, component deemed crucial in the comparability to the advanced diploma award.
“The intermediate certificates awarded by PIASS or CUR cannot be considered equivalent to diploma or advanced diploma for employment,” Higher Education Council notified Ministry of public service and labour.
However, Elisée Musemakweli, PIASS vice chancellor told Rwanda Today the requirement on internship and teaching practices were emphasised in the recent years, and the university had started integrating the components in the programmes whose licence was obtained in 2014.
“We had started reviewing the programme to align it with the current requirements, the audit looked at the course design at it was by the time we sought the license five years ago, but much of these was being done,” he said, adding that the institution had written to HEC to protest the outcome of its audit.
On its side, the Catholic University of Rwanda Rector Jean Marie Vianney Gahizi said the university did not offer intermediate certificates since its license allowed them only to award Bachelor’s degree upon completion of the three-year course and subsequent graduation.
Teta Phiona, one of the students said the university offered recommendations which some chose to include in their formal application for teaching jobs.
Estimated hundreds of students already teachers using the certificates stand to lose their jobs while many are barred from joining the teachers’ recruitment process in the future.