Mathematics Collaboration Strengthens Education and Research at the University of Rwanda

Marcel Ndengo has only good things to say about the bilateral research collaboration between the University of Rwanda and Linköping University. In addition to improved research and teaching capacity, there is also a new way of working among his colleagues.

Marcel Ndengo. Tidigare doktorand på MAI inom det Sida-finansierade bilaterala forskningssamarbetet mellan Rwanda och Sverige.Marcel Ndengo at Campus Valla, Linköping University. Photo credit Karin Johansson

Today Marcel Ndengo is acting Head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Rwanda (UR) where he works as a teacher, researcher and supervisor. Marcel is visiting Sweden and makes a stop at Linköping University to visit his former colleagues at the Department of Mathematics, or as he calls it: "my second home".

Collaboration in applied mathematics and statistics

Marcel spent five years at Linköping University as a PhD student within the bilateral research collaboration between the University of Rwanda and Sweden, the UR-Sweden Programme, which is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The Department of Mathematics at Linköping University and Stockholm University are Swedish partners in the sub-programme in applied mathematics and statistics.

The main goal of the sub-programme is to train Master's and PhD students in mathematics and statistics and to strengthen the teaching and research capacity at the University of Rwanda.

Marcel confirms that the programme lives up to its expectations:

– Having UR staff in education in Sweden has produced noticeable results and has increased capacity in both education and research at UR. This is thanks to dedicated work by the programme's coordinators and team leaders, both in Sweden and in Rwanda.

Working methods from Sweden

He is very enthusiastic, and at the same time a little surprised, that he and the other PhD students who have completed their doctorates in Sweden have brought home a new way of working - which also contributes to better teaching and research.

– I see a clear difference in behavior when it comes to thinking, professionalism and communication with us who have been trained in Sweden. We speak the same language when it comes to teaching methods, we have an open communication and the willingness to share information. We have a dynamic research environment and many are involved in writing research applications. There is a desire to make things work for everyone.

Marcel adds that many have also adopted teaching methods from Sweden.

– The approach in assessing our students is the same as we ourselves experienced as PhD students, and which we considered very effective. Interaction with others is done in a way that respects the other individual's perspective.

Valuable exchange between countries

In summary, Marcel believes that the bilateral UR-Sweden programme has been and still is very important for UR. He thinks the quality of teachers at his institution has improved tremendously.

– As head of department, I can confirm that the professionalism practiced by the group that has so far been educated at Linköping University is transferred to the students they teach in Rwanda, and other institutions they collaborate with. In the long term, this is good for the whole country.

Doctoral dissertation at Linköping University

Marcel Ndengo completed his doctorate in optimization at the Department of Mathematics in 2013 and was the first PhD student to complete a doctorate within the sub-programme in applied mathematics and statistics.

Term structure estimation based on a generalized optimization framework