University of Rwanda and Tufts Team Up for Business Development

The University of Rwanda – Nyagatare Campus originated from community-based initiatives in rural Rwanda in an area of intensive crop and livestock farming. The campus is located in the Eastern Province near the Ugandan border and about 160 kilometers north of the City of Kigali. The university has five science faculties: Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Technology and Applied Sciences, Information and Communications Technology, Commerce and Applied Economics, and a support center for Communication and Languages.

Left to right: Caroline Ryan and Paul Sserumaga with two colleagues from the SEE Program.

Dr. James Gashumba is the Coordinator of Nyagatare Campus and Principal Investigator for the Solve the Equation East Africa program, or SEE, supported by the Talloires Network’s Youth Economic Participation Initiative. SEE is a collaborative network between four universities in East Africa (University of Nairobi in Kenya, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania and Makerere University in Uganda) working to increase graduate employment by supporting the development of youth technical skills and providing business incubation centers. Community engagement is “part of the university mandate. Our focus is outward and we are community-oriented,” says Dr. Gashumba. In addition to the SEE program, engagement is “routine in the curriculum.” Students of agriculture and veterinary medicine, for example, do field work with farmers, helping them turn their farms into viable businesses.

Mr. Paul Sserumaga, senior lecturer in Animal Nutrition and Dr. Caroline Ryan, veterinary surgeon at University of Rwanda’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (see photo), take a collaborative approach to implementing the SEE program. Working with university and community partners, and with the help of Dr. Hellen Amuguni, research professor at Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine, they develop new curricula and program evaluation standards. According to Mr. Sserumaga, the first and most important achievement for SEE is, “accepting and knowing that we share similar problems among member universities and we move forward to jointly find solutions.”  He says, “We also agreed to work with groups, teams and networks through projects like student or faculty exchange. We were able to establish student clubs both under One Health and the Entrepreneurship club whose motto is ‘Job creaters YES, job seekers NO.’” For more information about the SEE program, click here.

Dr. Amuguni is a co-investigator for the Cummings Foundation and Institute for World Justice Grant to provide ambulatory services for communities in Rwanda through the Nyagatare campus. Students go to rural communities to meet farmers and examine animals. They record their findings and bring information back to the classroom and share with a virtual student network in the One Health Club and. This summer’s research program will host two students from Tufts University at University of Rwanda, Nyagatare. These experiences and real-world responsibilities prepare students for medical and government jobs. “The university has three main objectives,” Amuguni explains, “to educate, conduct research, and translate that research to affect positive change in society.” In other words, for Dr. Amuguni, research must be communicated in ways that everyone can understand and bring communities into conversation that enhances collective knowledge.