By Eddie Nsabimana.
By the beginning of the 2018/2019 academic year, the University of Rwanda is set to open a master’s programme in Biotechnology.
The disclosure was made on Monday during a consultative workshop on the programme curriculum development aimed at gathering ideas between the private sector, University of Rwanda and development partners in order to successfully design a programme curriculum that suits Rwanda’s increasing issues in agriculture, health and environment.
In addition, the move is intended to respond to the needs of creating jobs for a number of qualified academic individuals, especially young people to address the issue of unemployment among university graduates.
The programme was designed and developed by Jacobs Souopgui, a Cameroonian scholar from the “Université Libre de Bruxelles” in Belgium as part of the pledges he made to the Government of Rwanda during last year’s Rwanda Day in Brussels, Belgium.
During a consultative meeting on the programme’s curriculum, Leon Mutesa, an Associate Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Rwanda’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences and the programme country coordinator, said the development will bridge gaps facing Rwanda’s agriculture, health and Environment sectors.
“Rwanda has improved in different sectors but when we look at biotechnology, we still lag behind compared to other countries because we do not have enough skilled staff and even the related infrastructure is not improved for us to utilise the technology,” he observed.
“The idea was to see how we can create the biotechnology master’s programme in Rwanda by setting main priorities in addressing issues hammering health, Agriculture and Environment sectors,” he said.
As the programme awaits approval from Rwanda’s Higher Education Council (HEC), Health Minister Dr Diane Gashumba hailed the initiative, saying it will play a big and influential role in eliminating malaria on Rwanda’s soil.
“We, in health sector, are particularly happy that malaria was considered among priorities in this programme and I am confident it will play a significant role to eradicate it using new technologies through the new coming programme,” she said.
The curriculum is being designed based on the priorities from the three areas (Health, Agriculture and Environment) for Rwanda that can be addressed very quickly in a very short period of time where we can improve those sectors with skilled students on the market.
Mutesa is hopeful the programme will help address issues related to water management in environment sector while it is also expected to address food security where graduates from the study can set up factories producing improved and fortified food.
Within two years, Mutesa said, “we hope to address all these gaps by providing in-house trainings to a big number of committed and competent Masters’ students who can have ideas that can rapidly address these issues on the market. We can have enough skilled people on the market who can play a big part in the creation of ideas which can be key in addressing those challenges in the three sectors.”
Eligible students for the programme will be applicants with who fulfilled their undergraduate studies in while the cost is at the same
Master’s Programme in Biotechnology at University of Rwanda was among 40 academic research-based projects submitted to get funds from Belgian Research Academy and High Learning Institution (ARES), winning tough competition, in February, against other projects submitted from 18 countries from Africa, Asia and South America.
From the beginning, the university will host a team of experts from ‘Independent University of Brussels, Belgium to provide in-house training to students.
Like other Masters Programmes, the program proposes the creation of a 2-year Master’s degree with a strong “practical” component with skill and employability-oriented approach as a key game changer during the selection.
It is also expected to be an inclusive, interdisciplinary project based on a strong academic partnership with the main partners that are used to working together in the framework of the current UR-ARES partnership.
Meanwhile, the university will get equipment support from Promega Corporation, a worldwide biochemistry supplier with biological reagents and reagent systems that will be used in biotechnology related researches and applied technology.