For the past five years, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, in consortium with the South African Wildlife College and the Ecole de Faune (Cameroon), have been working together with the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management (KCCEM) in Rwanda.
Cora van Oosten, project coordinator on behalf of the consortium, says: "Our aim was to transfer our collective knowledge and experience to KCCEM, a new College which is rapidly growing. Together, we developed an approach of ‘learning-by-doing’, through adaptive planning and continuous reflection. The major outputs of our projects are a solid business model allowing KCCEM to operate economically viable by generating its own income. We supported the management and staff to develop sufficient human capacity to implement the business model, through the design and delivery of a range of additional products such as short courses, and renting out of facilities. And most importantly, we supported KCCEM to develop a solid diploma programme, based on market demand, to assure that students have the perspective of a paid job. We operated within the overall policy framework of Rwanda’s conservation, tourism and environmental management sector, to optimise collaboration with the Rwandan Government at all times."
Now that the project has come to an end, Richard Nasasira, Principal of KCCEM, comments on the results achieved, by saying: "Just before our project started, KCCEM was at the point of disappearance. We did not have appropriately trained staff, nor the facilities to teach the few students we had. Despite our efforts, we did not have the capacities to run the College, and we really needed support. That is why we were happy when we won this project. Together with our new Dutch, Cameroonian and South African partners, we started the project with a proper market analysis, as a basis for our programmes. Based on the outcome, we set up a business model for the College, which combined the delivery of a diploma programme with the capacities to develop and deliver short courses and other services on demand. Moreover, we invested in upgrading our facilities, to be able to commercially run our guesthouses and restaurant, to generate a regular stream of revenues for the College."
"Step-by-step we developed a practically oriented curriculum, based on the principles of competence-based learning, in close collaboration with our stakeholders. We developed a wildlife management programme in collaboration with the Rwandan Development Board managing the Nyungwe National Park in which we are located; a wildlife tourism and hospitality programme in collaboration with the hotels in region; and a sustainable forestry programme in collaboration with the forestry industry around us. All this, with a keen eye on the trends in the labour market, to assure that our students will be able to get a job. After four years of hard work, we have achieved our objectives. Today, KCCEM is a recognised College, with three accredited diploma programmes, a range of short courses, a well-trained staff, and almost 200 students. Our guesthouse and restaurant facilities not only cater for our students and staff, but also host considerable numbers of tourists and visiting researchers, who are happy to share their experiences with our students. I think I can proudly say that we running a financially viable business."
"The rapid growth of our College is also an opportunity for Kitabi town, where we are located. All our meat, fruits and vegetables are sourced from the area, and lots of inhabitants of Kitabi are employed in our guesthouses, our restaurant, or as security and maintenance staff. As we do not have sufficient rooms for housing our students, many families in Kitabi have rented out rooms to our students, which provide them with some extra income. Over the past few years, our College has really become an important source of income for the inhabitants of Kitabi town."