By Chris Ocowun
GULU University over the weekend passed out the first graduates in medicine and surgery. The 40 pioneers, who received bachelors degrees, were part of the 1,050 students who passed out on Saturday at the 5th graduation at the first public university in northern Uganda.
Thirteen students graduated with masters in business administration and public administration and management.
The highlights at the ceremony included the commissioning of the new faculty of medicine.
The project was supported by the local authorities of Regione Campania, the City of Naples and the Italian cooperation.
At the same occasion, Prof. Luigi Greco of the University of Naples in Italy, was awarded a honorary doctorate of science for participating in writing the curriculum and looking for funds for the faculty of medicine.
Luigi said the faculty started from a dirty and dilapidated maternity ward at Gulu Hospital in 2004 before the Italian cooperation offered funds to support the faculty.
The chairman of the university council, Opika Opoka, hailed the Italy and the University of Naples for funding the new building.
He said the new faculty would help improve the lives of the people through adequate medical care.
The vice-chancellor, Prof. Jack Nyeko Pen-Mogi, said the 40 graduates of medicine and surgery had five years of intensive and extensive training at the university.
â€œThese fresh doctors interacted with the local communities in extremely remote dispensaries and health centers.â€
He added that the doctors and surgeons participated in the massive vaccination of children living in camps for the internally displaced.
â€œThey took part in the control of the hepatitis E outbreak in Kitgum and Pader districts. We are confident the doctors are ready to provide efficient and effective medical services in remote areas where city- trained doctors may not accept to work,â€ Pen-Mogi pointed out.
â€œThis year, the Government introduced a low-interest agricultural loan scheme. I urge all of you who are graduating today to find out details about this loan and write business plans to access the funds.
â€œWe appeal to the President to consider establishing a graduate entrepreneurship loan scheme which is accessible to all graduates on a competitive basis.â€
Pen-Mogi cautioned the graduates against indulging in vices such as corruption, nepotism, over- drinking and prostitution. He instead urged them to promote good governance in order to industrialise and transform the rural areas.
Without giving details, the vice-chancellor disclosed that Gulu, Makerere and Mbarara universities are jointly developing a PhD programme.
He appealed to Makerere University to waive fees on lecturers from Gulu University who go there for masters and PHD studies as Mbarara university has done.
The state minister for higher education, Mwesigwa Rukutana, said the Government would pay doctors and scientists slightly higher than other professionals beginning next financial year in an effort to reduce brain-drain.
He said the Government would make Gulu University a center of science excellence, with several constituency colleges all-over the region.
Rukutana explained that the Government had introduced the studentsâ€™ loan scheme to enable children from poor backgrounds to pursue higher education.
â€œThe taskforce for the loan scheme is already in place. Hopefully by next financial year, the loan scheme will have started.â€
The Chancellor of Gulu University, Dr. Martin Aliker, called upon the university council to focus on physical growth and expansion.
â€œAcquisition of land should be paramount. I appeal to our people to cooperate and make land available for development.â€
He advised the graduands to support good governance, saying poor governance was the major cause of underdevelopment.
The graduation was attended by the former minister for education, Amanya Mushega, MPs, delegations from the partnering Universities and vice chancellors from Makerere and Mbarara Universities.