Rwanda lays genocide ghosts to rest

August 16, 2002

Rwanda has produced its first batch of technology and management graduates this month.

The 451 students of the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (Kist), who were awarded degrees and diplomas, represent a coming of age for the country of 8 million people struggling to overcome the 1994 massacre in which up to 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

The event also marked a significant change - Rwanda, along with former French and Belgian colonies, is dropping francophone teaching in favour of anglophone education systems.

Rwanda has been rapidly overhauling its education since the new regime, consisting mainly of former exiles who grew up and were educated in Uganda, took power.

Rwanda's three major universities, Butare, Kigali Institute of Education and Kist, can absorb only 3,000 students a year out of the 13,000 highschool leavers each year. Even those 3,000 represent a tremendous increase from a pre-1994 400 overall absorption.

The problem was compounded by the fact that the 1994 genocide targeted the educated elite, who came from both Hutu and Tutsi backgrounds.

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