Several HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns by the government and other stakeholders have recorded significant improvement in the reduction of new HIV infections in the country.
Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Coordinator of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Care and Treatment Department at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, who disclosed this at a meeting in Kigali on Wednesday, said the campaigns have been effective that the rate of new infections has gone down compared to the previous years meaning that more Rwandans are aware of the dangers of HIV/Aids.
“The rate of new infections was at 25,000 people every year in Rwanda five years ago, but now it has gone down. We have laid a number of strategies to increase awareness and other protective measures against new HIV infections so we are positive that this rate will go down further,” Dr Nsanzimana said. Every hour, two people get infected with HIV in Rwanda, according to Dr Nsanzimana. This is equivalent to 15,000 new HIV Infections every year, according to the doctor, who called upon those already infected to adhere to the instructions of their anti-retroviral treatment.
Functional HIV cure:
An infant was reportedly cured of HIV as announced recently at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, while French researchers published in the journal PLOS Pathogens that they had been studying 14 people that have been “functionally cured” of HIV.
But Professor Andrew Zolopa, from Stanford University School of Medicine, said those people who got cured had started on their ARVs at least a month after infection and so they started treatment early enough.
Kigali — The World bank has approved a grant of $50m aimed at bolstering Rwanda’s poverty eradication efforts.
It fund will also see Rwandans cushioned from the full impact of shocks, from unemployment or illness to sudden natural disasters.Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda said that while Rwanda has pushed back poverty dramatically in the past decade, it is still one of the world’s poorest countries.
“We are happy to continue supporting Rwanda’s efforts to manage its social safety net programs more efficiently, so that poor people can withstand economic and climatic shocks better and benefit more from economic growth,” she said
Rwanda has recently seen a record decline in poverty, from 57 percent in 2006 to 45% in 2011. The government has partly attributed this success to its social safety net programs.
The Workforce Development Authority (WDA) has earmarked Rwf500m to promote and professionalise art in the country.
Jerome Gasana, the WDA director-general, revealed this at a symposium on arts and craft organised by the Authority and the Rwanda Arts Initiative.
It drew artists, teachers, government and private institutions to discuss the way forward to develop arts and craft.
According to the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Mathias Harebamungu, the first step is to expand the arts school of Nyundo (Ecole d’Arts de Nyundo) in Rubavu district, Western Province, to train more students.
The school will later have branches countrywide to nurture talent.
“Artists can’t be professionals unless they sacrifice and put more effort. The appealing arts products should market artists and the country,” said Harebamungu.
WDA has toured the country to meet talented people and gather their views on what can be done to equip them with skills to generate income like other paying professions.
The Education Ministry has set a curricula to cover arts and craft in primary and secondary schools.
The minister urged artists to define arts, be original, innovative and critical thinkers before seeking government support.
According to Gasana, the drive targets not only students, but other persons whose talents have not been tapped.
He said expanding schools of arts and craft will be done in Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centers (IPRC) are spread country wide.
“Promoting arts and craft is our priority. We want every artist to be competitive at international level,” Gasana said.
He said WDA is looking for qualified teachers in arts and crafts.
Michel Saba, an expert and staff from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Burkina Faso, who was invited to participate in the symposium, said arts and craft has in his country to the extent that artists earn a lot from it and contribute significantly to national development.
Saba said his country has been developing the arts industry since 1969.
Florence Boivin Roumestan, a Canadian consultant, said she has seen a lot of potential among Rwandan artists.
“Artists should work as a team, organise themselves and do lobbying so that the government supports them,” she said, stressing the need for arts schools and individuals to inculcate respect of copy right law of other artist.
When a clergy professes a belief and lives to act, it often yields forth for the community. And for Zambian evangelist Joseph Ndashe, there was not a second day that he doubted the heights at which the education sector in Rwanda will rise.
“We’ll never go wrong if we invest in Rwanda,” the Bishop Ndashe had told leaders at a local church in Tennessee, Cleveland, after doing an assessment of the opportunities in Rwanda.
The Zambian only saw the roses in the education sector and today, he says there is no better time to invest in it than now, because new policies in the country are more than enticing.
Bishop Ndashe convinced the US-based Church of God World Missions to invest nearly Rwf450m in buying and renovating a secondary school in Niboye, Kicukiro district. This was after the mission’s initial plan to build a Rwf750m secondary school in the same region had failed due to registration pitfalls.
In 2011, the Church of God World Missions in Rwanda bought the formerly French-speaking general secondary education provider, Ecole Secondaire St. Patrick, at Rwf350m. The church, which by then was only registered in Kicukiro district, has turned St. Patrick into an A-Level technical school called Church of God St. Patrick Secondary School.
Bishop Ndashe, who is now the school’s administrator, said the government’s current education policy that focus on either technical training or general education instead of doing both is encouraging.
“We opted to go for professionals so that if the students fail to go to university they are able to use what they learned to go and get employment, that’s one of the things that attracted us,” he said. “And then there is no much interference from the government as long as you follow the right policy without breaching.”
He also said the shift to using English as the language of instruction in schools instead of French was another attractive point for his church because most of its trainers speak English.
The church’s investment in the school came as a relief for its former owners Anastase Sebudandi and associates who couldn’t afford to exclusively train students taking professional courses since they would lose money without students taking general courses in O-Level.
“We were going to cut the number of our students from 600 to 200 and that was not going to generate enough money to pay off our loans,” Sebudandi said. “We were failing to maintain the school.”
The church invested an extra Rwf50m to renovate classrooms, buy computer equipment, and increase teachers’ salaries. It is also planning to invest another Rwf50m to provide better computer labs and washrooms for the school.
Profits expected after five years
Bishop Ndashe says he hopes to make a return on his investment in the next five years. Focus will then shift to expansion to receive international students.
It all looks like a long shot given, but the prospects are rosy. Last year, the country’s target of students entering Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system was 40 per cent of all graduates of nine-year basic education, while the target by 2017 is projected at 60 per cent.
According to Pacifique Karinda, who oversees human capital and institutional development at the Rwanda Development Board, the current demand for TVET schools calls for more investment.
“We believe it’s a big opportunity for investors because this is a new system that is being implemented,” he said.
For the Church of God World Missions in Rwanda, Karinda could be preaching to the converted because it has already bought two pieces of land; in Gahanga, Kicukiro district, and in Nyagatare, inEastern Province, to expand its chalkboards.
President Kagame in Hong Kong
President Paul Kagame yesterday called upon the Hong Kong business community to come and be part of Rwanda and Africa’s revival journey.
The Head of State made the remarks at a luncheon hosted by members of the business community in Hong Kong to discuss the multiple business opportunities Rwanda has to offer.
“I invite you to be part of the revival of not only Rwanda but Africa. We want to look at change in the general context of the East African Community to which we belong and of Africa,” President Kagame said.
Members of the business community who were from a variety of fields including the banking, energy and media sector were keen to learn more about Rwanda’s business environment, its educational system and the opportunities for investment in energy.
Introducing President Kagame, Marc Holtzman who also sits on the board of directors of the Bank of Kigali referred to Rwanda as a miracle story and described President Kagame as “a man with the vision that transformed Rwanda.”
Holtzman explained that he first learned of Rwanda’s progress when President Kagame addressed the University of Denver during his time as President of the University in 2004.
It is then that his vision of Rwanda changed from a nation marked by genocide to one of admirable socio-economic transformation.
Vivian Kayitesi, Head of Investment at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) explained to those present the progress that has led Rwanda to be ranked 3rd in Sub Saharan Africa at the recent World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report and the 8th easiest in doing business globally.
“RDB is dedicated to fast tracking Rwanda’s economic development by facilitating private sector investment. One of our recent accomplishments includes; decreasing the time required to open a business from 24 hours to 6 hours and procedures to obtain a construction permit from 30 days to 20 days.”
Addressing the question of education, President Kagame explained that the vision responsible for shaping Rwanda’s future, Vision 2020, was largely based on investing in the education of the youth.
“With youth forming the majority of the Rwandan population, Rwanda has prioritized education and the creation of a capable workforce in the country,” he explained.
President Kagame concluded by inviting the members of the business community to make the trip to Rwanda to witness the change that Rwandans have brought their nation. “Seeing is believing.”
New Times Rwanda
On the face of it, 400 graduands is a drop in the ocean. However, it ought to be recalled that this is the maiden graduation ceremony for the institution that largely aims to train people in science and technology disciplines.
The focus on science and technology by institutions of higher learning is critical in the development process of the country. Human resources gaps remain a major constraint in key service delivery sectors.
This is historically attributed to the lip service that past governments paid to higher education, especially in the fields of sciences and technology.
Recent years have seen an emphasis on science and technology in institutions of higher learning, as the government seeks to steer the country towards that direction.
The opening of a regional campus by the Carnegie Mellon University, in Rwanda, is yet another development that will help further the cause of science and technology at university level.
With such focused investment in practical areas in education, major gaps will be bridged and also help transform higher institutions of learning into cutting edge centres of research and technological development.