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Kyambogo opens Saturday after staff strike is called off

By John Agaba, Joan Murungi

Added 2nd August 2017 10:47 AM

The non-teaching staff trade union that initially sanctioned the strike represents workers at basically all the 11 public universities in the country

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Kyambogo University vice chancellor, Prof. Eli Katunguka, addresses the media on Tuesday. Photo by Juliet Kasirye

Kyambogo University Tuesday said it was ready for the 2017/2018 academic year, which starts Saturday — ending rumours the country’s second largest institution of higher learning would stay closed after a strike by its non-teaching staff paralysed operations. 

Vice Chancellor Prof Eli Katunguka told journalists the campus would open Saturday August 5 for freshmen and women, continuing students would report on August 12. 

It is not just Kyambogo University whose start of semester one was in jeopardy, with the nonteaching staff trade union that initially sanctioned the strike representing workers at basically all the 11 public universities in the country. 

Katunguka said at his office: “the strike by the nonteaching staff has been called off after negotiations with Ministry of Public Service.” 

Deputy chairperson of the Kyambogo University nonteaching staff Ediga Barigye said they had accepted to call off strike after the public service and finance ministries agreed to pay their monies next financial year (2018/2019). 

“They (public service) said our money hadn’t been factored in the current budget. They issued a document showing that they will pay us over sh4b (in 2018/2019),” the deputy chairperson said at a separate press briefing. 

The public universities nonteaching staff strike lasted almost a month after workers laid down tools protesting unequal distribution of salary enhancement, sanctioned by President Yoweri Museveni. 

Barigye said negotiations (with public service ministry) had been progressing and they had agreed to resume work effective yesterday. 

Away from announcing academic year start dates, the Kyambogo University Vice Chancellor called parents and guardians to “take more interest” in learners’ tuition payments. 

“Our (tuition payment) system is so transparent parents can log in and verify whether or not their children have paid fees,” Katunguka said.

“We have a number of cases where students are given tuition but they never pay it. Some start small businesses, which crash, and in the end are caught with forget examination permits. Others deliberately keep the money to pay it towards end of semester and end up eating it with their girlfriends.” 

The VC also said the campus was surrounded by “all sorts of conmen waiting to pounce on naïve first year students.” 

But he promised a “better university”, which would continue to “go up” with the “steady administration” in place. 

The Vice Chancellor said they received in excess of 19,000 A’level applicants last year, the highest ever, and admitted 14,500. 

“We expect about 10,000 (students) will report and this is the highest intake ever.” 

He said the university had been strengthening its infrastructure and by end of this month will unveil the “state-of-the-art” new complex built with support from the Higher Education Science and Technology Project in the Education Ministry. 

The structures including a virtual library and a multipurpose science complex plus a technical teacher education building and new engineering laboratories and a central lecture facility, were funded using a loan from the African Development Fund. 

The University’s ICT director John Okuonzi said they also planned to roll out the e-campus system they operate to the rest public institutions of higher learning in the country.

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