Students Should Be Half at School and Half in the Market: Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA Fabien

29 May 2024

On May 28, 2024, at INES-Ruhengeri, the successful conclusion of the "Career Advisory and Professional Development" pilot project, sponsored by the MasterCard Foundation, was celebrated. The event was opened by the Vice-Chancellor of INES-Ruhengeri, Fr. Dr. Jean Bosco BARIBESHYA.

The conclusion of the pilot project brought to light compelling insights from Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA Fabien, the former Vice-Chancellor and initiator of the project. His thought-provoking perspective advocates for a fundamental shift in the educational paradigm. 

Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA began his address by referencing a YouTuber who humorously critiqued the current education system. The YouTuber suggested that people are misguided because they invest significant sums of money in college education with the expectation of securing a job post-graduation. He suggested that if people were not confused, they would instead use that money directly in the market to shorten the path to earning an income. Although framed as a joke, this observation highlights a critical issue: while students are obligated to pay school fees, educational institutions do not guarantee employment, thus leaving graduates in a precarious position.

Another YouTuber was cited by Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA, who referred to education as a "thief of time and money." This comment reflects the frustration of many who spend years and significant financial resources on education, only to face rampant unemployment. The crux of the argument is that despite the enormous investment in education, schools are not held accountable for failing to deliver on implicit promises of employment. Employment, Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA emphasized, is not merely a favor but a right. It is essential for self-realization and for contributing to societal welfare. Employment brings dignity, whereas unemployment undermines it.

To address this disconnect, Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA argued for a paradigm shift in education to align more closely with the evolving demands of the world and labor market. This transformation must be embedded within the teaching and learning processes, with all stakeholders equipped with the right tools. The efforts at INES-Ruhengeri to meet labor market needs are noteworthy. The concept of a University of Applied Sciences should become a success story and a model for transformative education.

A tangible result of this new educational approach is the establishment of the Career Advisory and Professional Development Centre, a key outcome of the MasterCard Foundation-funded project. This center serves as a vital tool for continuously recalibrating graduates, ensuring they are well-prepared for the job market. As Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA aptly put it, it is time to see this center running and making a significant impact on youth employability.

Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA emphasized how education should focus not just on academic performance but also on job market requirements. "While memorizing school relies on the lecturer’s knowledge, without considering several gaps that he may have, thinking school trains the students to own their learning process. It is comparable to giving fish and teaching them how to fish. Of course, the unemployment issue shall not be efficiently tackled by the memorizing school," he said.

In conclusion, Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA wished for fruitful deliberations that lead to actionable outcomes. His vision is clear: students should spend half their time in school and the other half in the market, gaining practical experience that complements their academic learning. This dual approach is essential for tackling unemployment at its roots and fostering a generation of well-equipped, market-ready graduates.

The Career Advisory and Professional Development project, initiated by Fr. Dr. HAGENIMANA Fabien during his tenure as Vice-Chancellor of INES-Ruhengeri, began its journey in March 2023 and concluded on May 31, 2024. The Project is implemented by INES-Ruhengeri under the support of the Mastercard Foundation



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