MAKERERE TUITION STRIKE
Private students planning to join Makerere University next academic year maybe be forced to pay higher tuition fees in order to make the institution more competitive both nationally and in the region, the New Vision has learnt.
On Friday President Yoweri Museveni directed the Makerere University administration to compare the University's tuition fees structure with that of other public universities within the country and also within the East African region and come up with a reasonable tuition policy.
The President made the directive while meeting with the Makerere University administration on Friday at State Lodge, Nakasero that was attended by the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni.
Makerere University administration was led by the University Council Chairperson Lorna Magara and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as well as officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Museveni also re-emphasized that it is not a good idea for Makerere University to pay its lecturers using students' tuition fees.
"These are government workers. They should not be paid using students' tuition fees. They should be paid by the Government," he said.
The President noted that the Government would take over the entire wage bill of the university and that all the money generated from the university would be invested in the infrastructure.
Humanity courses at the university will also be scrapped off as Makerere changes focus to more science-driven courses. President Museveni will be tabling the resolution arrived at the meeting to the National Resistance caucus, today at Entebbe.
Sources who attended the meeting said the meeting also agreed that the Government scraps of all the subsidy in order for the students to pay the full unit cost of the courses.
Sources who attended the meeting told Sunday Vision that Museveni and University Council agreed that the university should focus more on science courses and that would be a reduction in the number of humanities courses offered at the Makerere.
Magara confirmed the developments noting that no definite time for effecting the changes had been provided. "There is going to be a review an assessment and of all the courses to determine which ones will be merged and those that will be scrapped," Magara noted.
This would mean several lecturers would also lose jobs.
On October 22, 2019, Makerere University students went on strike protesting the 15% increment on fees targeting new students every new academic year. The students noted that the increment would severely affect learning especially of students from needy families.
What this would mean
Makerere University Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Prof William Bazeyo on Saturday confirmed they held a meeting with the President and that a raft of changes within the University had been agreed upon.
"It was agreed we start charging fees per unit cost and that Makerere University private students paid the least fees compared to the other regional universities in the region like the University of Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam University and the University of Kigali," Bazeyo noted.
Giving an example of medicine, Bazeyo noted that Makerere University was charging shs3.5million per course after government subsidy while in Nairobi University the same course costs shs15 million and even more in Dar-es-Salaam University.
Bazeyo noted that the meeting agreed that Makerere University gets new functional fees from the National Council of Higher education that would now be possibly implemented the next academic year.
On the issue of the wage bill, Bazeyo noted that Makerere University was contributing over 20% of the money internally generated to top up on the Government bill. But that now that the President had directed that the Government would take over the wage bill, all monies generated would be used in infrastructure development like laboratories.
During the meeting, Museveni also asked the University to explain the presence of Military Police in the university after claims emerged that it was the University administration that invited them to quell the strike.
He was, however, notified that the army had set up a base at the university long before the strike for purposes of securing the entire greater Kawempe area which had been prone to insecurity.
Sources told Sunday Vision that the President called the Inspector General of Police and demanded detailed security briefly about Makerere University and its environs.
Museveni also reportedly praised Nawangwe for steady leadership at the University noting that he committed to transforming the institution. He noted that previous administrations had slept over their jobs.
Makerere University's 85th Guild President Julius Kateregga told Sunday Vision that he had received a phone call from State House inviting him for the meeting but he failed to turn up because he had traveled to Namagunga for a burial.
He, however, noted that on Thursday, he travelled together with a team of 25 students to Kapeeka to meet Gen. Salim Saleh Museveni's younger brother who wanted understand the genesis of the students strike.
He noted that the reason why they were opposed to the fees increment was that several students were dropping out due to higher costs. "I have been a victim myself. Last year over 1000 students dropped out compared to the other years." Kateregga noted.
He condemned the decision to increase fees at the university noting that the decision might be good for the University but out touch with reality.
"If that is communicated to us. We shall take it to the Students General Assembly and decide a way forward. It is quite challenging and absurd that the people who are supposed to join us are joining our oppressors in determining our future," Kateregga said.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga last week tasked the education committee to probe the current impasse at Makerere. The speaker also condemned the violence that was meted on the students.
On Tuesday, MPs expressed disappointment that the minister who had been invited to appear before MPs had yet again delegated the state minister for Higher Education, Chrysostom Muyingo to answer queries about the impasse at Makerere.
The Minister of Defence Adolf Mwesige and State Minister for Internal Affairs Obiga Kania have already appeared and apologized for the violence the army meted on the students.
Additional reporting by Derrick Otim