Research skills: University of Rwanda to oblige all donors to hold doctorates | New times
As part of efforts to improve the quality of research work, the University of Rwanda has summoned all master’s degree holders among its academic staff to apply for doctoral studies within two years.
The Chancellor of the University, Professor Philip Cotton, made the call during a seminar on building research systems organized in partnership with the Swedish Cooperation Agency at the headquarters of the University of Rwanda in Gikondo yesterday.
Cotton said a lot of research is underway with poor coordination mechanisms, but improving the quality of staff will improve research skills.
“We want to improve the skills that people already have and not dilute their efforts as they exist. It’s important that we get more people engaged in key research themes, ”Cotton said.
He said the university is also working to ensure that the themes generated will contribute to the development of the nation by tackling local issues.
“The starting point for the research should come from the people who live in Rwanda. For example, if we have a theme around sustainable agriculture, the university should be able to involve relevant departments and people to make things better, ”Cotton said.
Currently, the University of Rwanda has 1,601 academic staff. Of these, 27 percent have a bachelor’s degree, 18 percent have a doctorate while those with a master’s degree constitute the largest proportion with 52 percent.
Acting Vice Chancellor for Research Professor George Njoroge said that despite the challenges of gender imbalance with staff, higher qualifications for teaching staff are no exception.
“Anyone with a master’s degree should be registered for a doctorate by next year. Education is just as important and the university must maintain its standards by employing quality staff, ”Njoroge said.
He said the university is working to improve the quality of publications and that senior lecturers will be required to publish a certain number each year.
“We aim for a professor to publish at least three articles per year, and by 2025 our publishing staff is expected to exceed 50%,” he added.
Dr Marie Christine Gasinzigwa, director of science, technology and research at the Ministry of Education, said that although researchers generally complain about limited funds, poor planning affects the progress of their work.
“With good planning, good research can be done using limited resources. That’s the mindset and for someone with a good proposal, funding is easy to get. This is capacity building that we are talking about, ”said Gasinzigwa, who also urged local researchers to engage with other researchers from different countries to learn best practices.
“People come from different countries, if you are to take the plunge you have to see where others have come and build on that. This is our goal, ”she added.
Although the government is working on a special research fund through the National Science and Technology Commission, part of the research funding comes from donor agencies. Over the past five years, the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has injected more than $ 40 million into research in the country.
Anna Marie Ottorp, head of research cooperation at SIDA, praised Rwanda’s efforts in building the capacities of its researchers.
“Rwanda has a clear vision and plans and while we support building research capacity, we really want to see which areas need more attention. Many people have been trained in the country and it shows the ownership of higher education in Rwanda, ”she said.