Rwanda is a small land-locked country located in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Rwanda is about the size of Massachusetts. Often called the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” Rwanda is dominated by mountain ranges and highland plateaus.
The Rwandan Government has invested extensively in education as part of its strategic plan, known as Vision 20/20, which aims to see Rwanda become a middle-income nation by the year 2020. To this end, compulsory education has increased to 12 years. In 2009, the government changed the medium of instruction from French to English for all students above the third year of primary school. The abrupt shift has created formidable challenges for both students and teachers. TEFL needs are still great. Since 2013, the Government of Rwanda has consolidated its several public universities to form one single university: The University of Rwanda (UR). Because the reorganization of the UR college system is still incomplete, each college manages all programs that would fall under that college, even if a program is still physically located at a different college.
Rwanda also has several private higher learning institutions, the number of which has significantly increased in the past decade. The academic year spans 9 months in Rwanda, beginning in September/October and ending in June/July. It is normally divided into two semesters separated by a three-week break. In April, classes stop for two weeks to observe the mourning period and genocide commemoration.
The U.S. Embassy Kigali arranges for an in-country orientation for Fulbright and other exchange visitors upon arrival. All U.S. citizens, including Fulbright and other exchange program grantees visiting Rwanda, must obtain a visa upon entry. To stay in Rwanda for more than 30 days, grantees will be required to visit the office of immigration to request for long term visa within 15 days of arrival.
It is important to note that Rwandan immigration authorities strictly adhere to the visa requirements. No exceptions will be made. The U.S. Embassy Kigali provides an updated checklist and advises approved Fulbright applicants on any changes in required documents.
All Fulbright Scholars and students planning on conducting research as part of their grant must obtain research clearance prior to conducting any field work. The U.S. Embassy Kigali advises Fubrighters to work with their chosen host institutions for guidelines on the process and preferably initiate the clearance process well prior to arrival in country to ensure adequate time for processing and, ultimately, research on the ground. The government of Rwanda has indicated that all research students/scholars must be affiliated with approved Rwandan institutions (ministries, universities, other Rwandan agencies, etc). Please visit the Rwandan Ministry of Education website for a detailed list of approved affiliation institutions.
For Fulbright researchers in health fields, the Rwandan law changed in late 2012 to require researchers in those fields to present their research permit applications to the Rwandan National Ethics Commission and pay a 850,000 RWF fee (about $1,100). Further details on the Directorate General of Science, Technology and Research are available on the Rwandan Ministry of Education website.