Yesterday, Jean Bosco Rusagara left for Mangalore University in India for a PhD in Business Administration after getting a scholarship from the India Council for Culture and Relations (ICCR). Now, many might be wondering why this is news given that he is neither the first nor the last to pursue education to the highest level.
However, Rusagara’s tough journey and unique thirst for knowledge is what makes his case quite interesting.
Rusagara’s education background
Rusagara, 47, was born in a humble family that could not cater for all his basic needs. As a result, he was unable to go all the way to university uninterrupted and dropped out after completing O’ level. However, in a bid to keep himself busy, Rusagara decided to learn how to drive. Little did the teenager know that that might be his turning point.
“In 1989 I processed my driving permit. Everyone wondered why I was so interested in obtaining one when I didn’t even own a vehicle. But I always told them (of course jokingly) that one day I would own one leaving them in laughter,” Rusagara narrates.
The tall light-skinned Rusagara had acquired a life skill but felt uncomfortable with his level of education.
“I really loved school and wanted to join A’level but I was financially unable,” he admits. “Fortunately, the government and friends made my wish become a reality.”
Rusagara then joined Lycée Notre-Dame-d’Espérance in Gikondo for A’level where he passed well.
Unlike most people who start applying for jobs after university, Rusagara immediately started looking for jobs after his Senior Six in 2006. And it did not take him long before landing a driver’s job at Kigali Health Institute now University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Sciences. With a salary of Rwf110,000 every month, Rusagara knew he was lucky to get a job where employment opportunities are scarce and decided that he would spend it on upgrading his education. So he decided to save a portion of his earnings to meet his goal.
“With my savings, I was able to get a loan of Rwf2 million from Bank Populaire towards the end of 2006. Then my wife also topped up with Rwf 1.5million,” he says.
Rusagara used this money (Rwf3.5 million) to buy a used vehicle from the government during an auctioning exercise at Amahoro stadium in 2006.
He now had another source of income but still needed his job to supplement his earnings. Initially, this father of four used to drive the cab after work and during weekends but it proved tiring so he hired someone to take care of that.
“The taxi business used to generate Rwf200, 000 every month and saved most of it,” he reveals, adding that his hunger for more education kept increasing.
Going for further studies
The urge for knowledge compelled him to apply for a Bachelor’s degree at Independent University of Kigali.
“I applied for a degree in business management in 2007 and used my monthly salary to clear my tuition. I graduated in 2011 but I was not yet satisfied so I immediately applied for a Masters degree in Business Administration majoring in accounting and Finance at Kabale University.
But with already four children and a number of relatives to look after, Rusagara was not going to have an easy ride. He was forced to sell off his vehicle to pay for his master’s programme which cost about Rwf 2.5million.
Although Rusagara had solved the tuition issue, he soon realized that a lot more was required of him if he was to pull it off.
“It became difficult to balance work and studies so I enrolled for the weekend programme. I would leave for Uganda on Friday evening and return to Kigali on Sunday evening,” Rusagara reveals.
After Kigali Health Institute was transformed into University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Rusagara was promoted to transport officer.
Rusagara says nothing is impossible in life and encourages everyone to always go for what they want in life regardless of the challenges involved.
“Nothing comes easy. Just work hard, keep trying and always save some money regardless of how much you earn. The rest will follow,” he advises.