Tighten grip on universities to protect students

Wednesday July 15 2020

When the government announced lockdown to contain spread of Covid-19 pandemic, private schools and universities were caught flat-footed. PHOTO | FILE


When the government announced lockdown to contain spread of Covid-19 pandemic, private schools and universities were caught flat-footed.

While some moved with speed adjust to the new normal, which include payment of salaries to staff and lecturers.

But coronavirus was never supposed to be used as an excuse for their poor financial health.

Closing of schools is likely to help in preventing spread of the virus within higher education institutions— and it has clearly forced them to operate in unfamiliar territories and spend significant sums of money to turn tides against the pandemic.

Let us face it; universities that were caught in the pandemic cross fire did not need a pandemic to risk bankruptcy.

The pandemic simply exposed their culture of ill preparedness, ineffective administration and flaunting of financial regulations.


During their hey days, some universities allegedly misappropriated the finances and have now been permanently closed by the government.

Cases in point are the University of Kibungo, Indangaburezi College of Education and the Christian University of Rwanda, which were closed permanently due to financial irregularities.

Some of their proprietors are under arrest, with billions of francs are still owed in debts to their suppliers, lecturers and staff. The main victims in this scandal are the students, who for matters beyond their control, now find themselves having to forfeit years of education they had undergone in these universities.

Suddenly, the poor students now have to also suffer by looking for alternative universities where they have to start afresh; while it is also probable that they will never be refunded the tuition they wasted in these universities.

It is a sad reality. The most important question now is; how did these universities get their licences in the first place? How is it possible that the authorities missed the tell-tale signs that they do not crack the whip early enough? What kind of due diligence was conducted before they qualified for an operation licence?

In light of this, the government has made a commendable move to ask all private schools to prove their financial viability ahead of reopening in September. Those that are deemed financially unstable risk permanent closure.

Finding alternative universities for the thousands of affected students must be a priority for the government.

A two weeks’ evaluation is underway by the Quality Assurance Departments in the Ministry of Education to inspect the level of readiness by both public and private learning institutions prior to school reopening in September.

The inspection will assess school infrastructures and equipment, as well as the implementation status of recommendations from previous inspections made to schools on how to operate in a safe environment that adheres to Covid-19 guidelines.