Kyambogo University, the second largest public university, closed a month ago. the university has had unrest since its inception in 2001 and many have related this haphazard to the merging of the three institutions; the former UPK, UNISE and ITEK, to form the current Kyambogo University.
The academic staff went on strike protesting the remuneration structure adopted by the university council. The university is currently closed indefinitely after compromise positions failed to be reached by the council and academic staff over pay.
The chairman of the university council, Brewer Abaliwano, has attributed the mess to a leadership vacuum. â€œA university without a leader is difficult to run. We need a leader,â€ he said, while addressing the social service committee to explain when the institution would reopen. The university has readvertised the post of vice-chancellor after failing to get a replacement for prof. lutalo Bbosa, who was forcefully retired by the university council on claims by the academic staff that his appointment was irregular. The university has been faced with a series of court injunctions before the former crisis. Makerere University academic staff laid down tools hardly two months ago demanding explanation on the staff pension scheme mismanagement and failure to provide teaching aid materials; the students stayed redundant with no lectures close to a week in the semester. The university also closed hardly a year back over a strike by academic staff over pay.
A series of such rampant strikes affects the quality of education a student in a public university attains under the common semester system. One wonders about the governmentâ€™s education priority on sciences with such anomalies in its giant universities. it is no surprise our oldest university, Makerere, was rated 90th in terms of standards internationally.
On the contrary, private universities are striving to meet international standards. they currently focus on the lecturer-student ratio, frequent reviews of curriculum to match the employment market, extending their services nearer to the students, improving infrastructure and facilities that aid students in reaping knowledge and skills for instance library stocking and computer laboratories. Such examples include Nkozi and Mukono universities.
If the Government does not review its funding and the laws governing public universities, emphasising arbitration in conflict resolution, with strikes and court cases as a last resort in resolution of conflicts, one can conclude that Uganda has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing from her history.
The writer is an former guild
minister for Information
Private universities may out-compete public ones