University of Rwanda: Open learning at stake over tutors' pay, contracts

Friday April 21 2017

Procession of lecturers during a graduation at the University of Rwanda. Many of the colleges that merged are accused of financial misappropriation. PHOTO | FILE

Procession of lecturers during a graduation at the University of Rwanda. Part-time tutors at the University ’s open learning programmes say they have not received any payment over the past 18 months. PHOTO | FILE 

By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE

Part-time tutors at the University of Rwanda’s open learning programmes are on the verge of throwing in the towel after going for months without pay and uncertainty over the future of their contracts.

This is the latest in a string of challenges that have besieged the four-year old university that manages 19 colleges.

More than 120 tutors from 10 distance learning centres countrywide say they have not received any payment over the past 18 months.

The contracts of most of the lecturers expired last October, but they are yet to receive official communication on whether they will be renewed. The lecturers, however, continue to teach.

“It is difficult for most of us to survive without pay for this long. I personally cannot afford to keep teaching and I am not alone,” said a tutor at Nyundo Centre who requested anonymity.

“Students who should be graduating based on the set timetable, will be affected because there are no tutors to teach them,” he added.

The tutors told Rwanda Today that the arrears had accumulated to between Rwf400,000 and Rwf 860,000 per tutor, calculated using per hour spent teaching.



ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGA

ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGA

The University of Rwanda has over 120 part-time tutors in 10 distance training centres linked to its College of Education.

The centres, which were created to solve the shortage of qualified secondary school teachers, include four Face-to-Face Regional Training Centres and six Provincial Training Centres.

It is at these centres that secondary school teachers seeking to get an advanced Diploma in Education are admitted. Each distance training centre enrols about 500 students who either study on weekends or attend full-time intensive courses during the school holidays.

Part of the challenges come from the centralisation of services, which were previously managed by the 19 public tertiary colleges. This has complicated operations and compromised efficiency.

According to a recent report by the Senate, the University of Rwanda is facing huge financial shortfalls, hurting the smooth running of its daily operations.

Rwanda Today understands that the funding required to pay tutors was supposed to come from the National Capacity Building Secretariat.

However, funds have not been disbursed owing to bureaucracy created from merging the 19 public tertiary colleges into one University.

According to sources, University of Rwanda’s operational challenges could be fuelling the looming reorganisation of some of its colleges, which will likely see campuses merged into fewer learning centres.

Sources familiar with the proposed changes say all Arts and Social Sciences related programmes currently taught at the Huye campus, will relocated to Gikondo Campus.

Then the Nyarugenge Campus will accommodate Science and Technology related programmes.

The reorganisation could also see all health and medicine courses moved to Huye campus, while the Education College could also merge its scattered campuses.

The fate of the distance learning centres was not immediately clear and attempts to get a comment from officials from the University were futile by press time.

Meanwhile, students at the training centres expressed fears that the absence of the disgruntled tutors was delaying their learning and could delay the next intake if their issues are not resolved soon.

Charles Kabanda, one of the regional co-ordinators for the centres told Rwanda Today that the reports detailing the tutors’ claims on payments had been completed and submitted to the University of Rwanda’s headquarters in Kigali.

However, there were no specific timelines about when the arrears would be settled.

Mr Kabanda said the issue of renewing contracts was being handled by the human resource directorate.

“We gave all the details needed and we were told that both the payment and the contracts are being processed,” said Mr Kabanda, while also admitting that the delay was negatively impacting learning