By Grace Amme
KAMPALA - Twenty students under the umbrella of the Uganda National Students’ Association (UNSA) have been arrested for holding what the police has called "unlawful assembly" at the ministry of education offices.
UNSA is the body that unites all students in Uganda and Ugandan students abroad.
The students were apprehended on Friday during their protest against the current form of the students’ loan scheme and the non-uniform grading system in higher institutions of learning.
The group comprised of students from different universities.
Denis Namuwoza, who is the divisional police commander (DPC) Central Police Station, said the protesters will be charged with unlawful assembly and shall be taken to court accordingly.
He said the students did not inform the police or the ministry of their demonstration beforehand.
“Even if they have issues, there are channels to address them,” said the DPC.
Among those taken into custody were Nkumba University guild president Chrysostom Muyingo and UNSA president Yusuf Matanda.
In their written statement, the students are demanding for harmonization of what they call “unfair” grading system of the students’ loan scheme.
“We should create a ratio like say 3:1 in favor of sciences,” the statement read in part.
DPC Denis Namuwoza told reporters the arrested students would be charged with unlwaful assembly. PHOTO/Ramadhan Abbey
According to the executive director of the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board (HESFB), Michael Wanyama, funds to bankroll the loans have been disbursed in the ratio of 3:2, that is, sciences to humanities, respectively.
The loan scheme is targeting 1,000 science students and the beneficiary universities include Makerere University, Kyambogo University and Mbarara University of Science Technology.
The other universities involved are Busitema, Gulu, Muni, Islamic University in Uganda, Uganda Christian University and Kampala International University.
The list also includes Bugema, Nkumba, Ndejje and Uganda Martyrs University.
Under the scheme, the loan is meant to cover tuition, functional and research fees, and supportive equipment for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
According to the arrangement, the monies are to be remitted directly to the universities.
A total of 26 science courses have been approved for financing for the 2014/2015 academic year.
They include: medicine and surgery, education, pharmacy, agriculture, nursing, agriculture mechanization, dentistry, water resource engineering, medical laboratory sciences, agro-processing engineering, medical laboratory and animal production & management.
Others are clinical medicine and community health, mining, community health, agriculture and entrepreneurship, medical radiography, vocational studies in agriculture with education, veterinary medicine, electrical engineering, nursing completion, civil engineering, pharmaceutical sciences, mechanical engineering, physiotherapy and petroleum engineering.