By Frederic BYUMVUHORE
The Anglican Church in Rwanda has launched a Christian University aimed at sharpening pastors’ knowledge in religious-related courses, instill Christian values among Christians, and prepare them to serve the congregation efficiently and productively.
Named “the East African Christian College (EACC),” the institution will serve all people from the East African countries who want to pursue their studies in Theology, Nursing and pedagogy.
Located in Kabuga, Kicukiro District, Kigali, the school runs both under-graduate and post-graduate programs.
Though it started operating in 2006 as Kigali Anglican Theological College, the school was approved of by the government of Rwanda after its re-development to become the East African Christian College targeting beneficiaries from the region, with a capacity to accommodate 700 students.
As it awaits for Higher Education Council to approve all its programs, the school is currently running day and weekend programs for a total 200 students studying Theology at under and post-graduate levels.
The intakes are from Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
In 2018, the government of Rwanda enacted a law which required preachers to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology or any related field, something that has pushed churches to work hard to upgrade their pastors’ studies.
In an exclusive interview with the Gospel Time Rwanda, Rev. Prof. Viateur Ndikumana, the Principal of the University, said the university comes to benefit communities in the region in various ways.
“It is a school that comes to offer different services. It started operating many years ago but it was not yet approved by the government. At the time, it was called Kigali Anglican Theological College targeting only Anglican pastors and preachers,” he said.
The school is also believed to become a solution to the problem of uneducated church leaders and preachers who serve without knowledge in theology.
“We are not offering theology studies only; we are also including pedagogical, health and nursing studies. The mission of a church also focuses on other areas of life. We want to equip with distinction everyone that will join us so that they leave with a full package in education, evangelism and health,” Ndikumana added.
Students pay some amount of money as school fees, but the university doesn’t entirely depend on this to operate since Anglican Christians have a small amount of money to contribute to it every year, while other incomes for supporting it are collected from commercial buildings owned by the church in the country.
“We hope that the school will not close its doors because of financial instability,” Ndikumana said.
Re-development of the school
The construction of the school started in 2002 and first intakes joined in 2006. At the time, the school was called Kigali Anglican Theological College and designed to train only pastors from the Anglican Church.
“We have omitted the words ‘Kigali and Anglican’ because we are opening doors to more beneficiaries. The word ‘Anglican’ was replaced with Christian because the school is for all Christians, and not just for a single denomination. We teach Theology not Anglicanism,” Ndikumana explained.
Again, the word, ‘Kigali’ was replaced with ‘East Africa’ to integrate all citizens from the East African region.
Criteria for intake
Any person who wants to join the University should hold a High School certificate with two principal passes. For instance, if one has done Mathematics, Economics and Geography (MEG), they should have passed with distinction in two main courses.
Every intake should be able to pay school fees of Rwf 500,000 every year, and this amount covers registration fees, library, and computer lab; while restaurant and lodging fees are paid apart.
Discipline is among the school’s priorities so that the graduates become important and useful in the community.
The Principal of the University has called upon interested intakes to come fetch knowledge from the school.
“Many people deceive themselves that preaching the word of God does not need a degree, and that even the Disciples of Jesus did not attend any school. However, they are wrong. When you are a Disciple, it means you have a teacher or trainer. Disciples were trained for three years. I encourage every preacher of the word of God to study. We have weekend programmes for workers and there is a plan to establish an e-learning system,” he said.
All interested intakes remain with two weeks only to register.
The school compound has facilities that include dormitories, refectories, and places of worship. There is a plan to add a stadium in the compound.
In a past interview with Archbishop Dr. Laurent Mbanda, following his appointment in 2018 as the fourth Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, he said building the capacity of pastors was among his priorities for his five-year term.