SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa (SERVIR E&SA) with support from USAID and NASA is implementing a student mentorship initiative in RCMRD member States to guide students in universities and colleges taking Earth science related courses, in data access and awareness, organizing and supporting hackathons or joint problem-solving initiatives, using EO data and skills. Recognizing the need for capacity building and exposing students to current technologies in the mapping sector, the RCMRD/SERVIR project designed the Kuza (a Swahili word which means to nurture) initiative. From the 1-3rd June 2022, 40 students at the University of Rwanda studying the use of satellite information and the preparation of maps in various fields were taken through sessions on the application of geo-spatial knowledge and skills for societal benefit. The RCMRD, through the SERVIR project, exposed the students at the University of Rwanda to cutting edge technologies in mapping and use of mapping applications which are tools that would complement their skills in the job market.
While addressing students at the event, the RCMRD Director General Dr. Emmanuel Nkurunziza explained that their partnership with the University of Rwanda would enable them to inspire students to focus on the latest mapping technology in the world, since this is a rapidly changing field and therefore requires young people to be stay abreast of new developments in the Earth observation field. He further added that the knowledge provided at the university should be used by the students in the transformation and development of the agricultural sector among other sectors. The Director General emphasized that the goal of the mentorship program was mainly to bridge practical skills gaps between employers and university programs in this field, and thus ensure that students were exposed to real life challenges and technologies. During the three-day workshop held at the University of Rwanda's Centre for Technology Research, RCMRD experts in various fields trained the students on maximising the potential offered by the latest Earth observation technologies for their benefit and that of their country and continent.
The RCMRD/SERVIR E&SA team with the University of Rwanda staff and students during the launch of the Kuza (Aguka) mentorship program on June 1, 2022.
Officials of the Aguka (Kuza, Mentorship Program at the University of Rwanda).
In Rwanda, the 'Kuza Mentorship Program was christened "AGUKA' by the University of Rwanda students, which in Kinyarwanda means 'COMING', or raising a child to achieve his or her dream. Prof. Gaspard Rwanyiziri, Director of the Institute of World Technology Studies, appreciated the Kuza initiative and encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunity because it would supplement what they are taught in class. The University of Rwanda has signed a five-year agreement with the RCMRD to facilitate mentorship of students in the growing field of Earth observation and geo-spatail technologies, thus enable them to utilize such skills in the daily work after graduation.