Thursday, 28 March 2013

Stanford students get Rwanda’s leadership insight

Some of the the Stanford International Policy students at Village Urugwiro yesterday. The New Times/Village Urugwiro.
A group of twenty graduate students offering International Policy at the Stanford University in California, US, has been inspired by Rwanda’s governance policies based on the consensus based approach.

The team, led by James D. Fearon, Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, is in the country for a week to understand the challenges of governing a country in a post-conflict environment.

“We have been told many times that Rwanda is an example of a fast growing economy, and great post-conflict stability, those are the two things we are interested to learn about,” Micaela Hellman-Tincher, one of the students told journalists yesterday, shortly after meeting President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro.

“There is a lot to learn from Rwanda and which we can integrate into our studies. One of the things that impressed us is the consensus based approach in decision making and public participation in nation building.”

The students hail from USA, China, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland.

Increasing prominence 

Each year, the Ford Dorsey Programme in International Policy Studies (IPS) sponsors an annual study trip to expand students exposure to regions critical to their understanding of international affairs and policy analysis.

They chose to visit Rwanda because of the country’s increasing prominence as the centre of technological innovation for Africa, regional political leadership and unprecedented economic growth.

Rwanda’s GDP per capita stands at around US$644, according to recent figures. The country’s economy has been growing at an average slightly above 8 per cent over the last 12 years, with investments significantly going into construction, mining, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), tourism, as well as in services such as banking and insurance among others.

According to Fearon, their meeting with the Head of State covered a wide range of issues like the interlocking nature of social, political and economic problems, Rwanda’s economic development and building strong political institutions.

They also interacted on matters to do with human rights, strategies for economic development, Rwanda’s history, foreign policy matters like problems arising from the conflicts in DRC, the role of Rwanda at the UN Security Council among others.

The group has worked in policy making institutions and they will go on to work on policy making in other countries, according to Fearon.

The delegation is also keen to understand governance, capacity building, and how the country attracts foreign investment.

The group has met authorities from the Rwanda Development Board and the Ministries of Health, and Foreign Affairs. They are also scheduled to visit various areas in eastern, southern and western provinces.

Mary Baine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who accompanied the students to meet the President, said the group visited Rwanda due to the country’s fervour to promote regional integration.


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