The first-ever Commonwealth alumni event in Rwanda was held in August 2016, as part of the opening day of the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ Summer School at the University of Rwanda, Kigali.
Alumni joined Summer School delegates for the introductory lecture on ‘Understanding the post-2015 development agenda’ by Dr Jeannette Bayisenge (Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Gender Studies, University of Rwanda), followed by an engaging Q&A session. The group then attended a reception and dinner, addressed by the British Deputy High Commissioner to Rwanda, Jenny Wilcox, who described the UK’s commitment to international development and scholarship provision.
Commonwealth alumni were also involved as speakers at the Summer School, including Dr Prasad Senadheera (2007 Split-site Scholar from Sri Lanka, PhD Plant Biotechnology, University of Colombo and University of York) who spoke about ‘Empowering the rural farming community’. Prasad is a Senior Lecturer in Botany at the Open University of Sri Lanka, and a Fellow in Plant Molecular Biology at the International Rice Research Institute, in the Philippines. Jean Chrysostome Sehene (2011 Distance Learning Scholar, MSc Education for Sustainability, London South Bank University), Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Environmental Conservation Organisation, spoke about ‘Universities, environmental conservation and sustainable development’.
Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships were first offered to Rwanda in 2010. Since then, 53 Rwandans have benefited from an award, with 4 more individuals due to take up awards in the 2016-2017 academic year. The CSC hopes that a local alumni association will be set up in Rwanda later this year.