MiniBuzz hosts engaged Makerere University students in a discussion on how the closure of the University affected them. Route- Makerere University. This episode was broadcast on Bukedde TV1 on 3rd Jan 2017.
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Makerere University has been reopened after it was closed on November 1, 2016. But, how were parents and students affected by the University closure? The University Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu said, “the University is functioning and lecturers are ready to commence teaching.”
According to a circular issued by Prof Ddumba, the students reported for studies on January 2, 2017 for continuation of the first semester. It announced that lectures would run up to 29th January and then exams would ran 30th January to 20th February.
The University was closed after the 10th week of the first semester. A semester at Makerere has 16 weeks.
President Museveni ordered the closure of Makerere University following a strike by the lecturers demanding payment of their incentive arrears. They were joined by students who were also demanding to be taught.
Uganda’s highest learning institution has been embroiled in protests, involving both academic staff and students. The University’s lecturers resolved to strike in late October and refused to teach, demanding the government pay their incentive arrears in full.
The President later appointed a seven-man visitation committee to investigate among other things the cause of persistent strikes at the University and financial management. Parents and students argue that they should be allowed to pay tuition at their convenience since they incurred unplanned expenditures when President Museveni ordered the closure of the University on November 1. As the University remained closed, students and parents were the biggest losers in terms of money spent and time lost.
Ironically, parents who had paid up the Semester tuition fees had to spend much more just to transport the students back to their homes, following the ultimatum given to vacate the university premises or face arrest.
Effects of Makerere University closure on students and parents:
- Students were given sort notice to leave the university and hostel premises. Though some did not have money to travel back home, they had to go..
- Some foreign students contacted their embassies for help.
- Police offered to accommodate some stranded students who failed to rise money for transport to their homes.
- They order also affected students who reside in private hostels around the University, even though they had cleared rent fees for the entire four-month semester.
- Many parents are starting to resent Makerere University, especially now that they are watching their children sit idle home yet they had paid their tuition, while other universities are operating normally. Parents are spending more than planned.
- The closure of Makerere University interfered with the provision of health services at Mulago Hospital as medical students (interns) refused to work
- There will be a delay in the Graduation dates. Usually Makerere holds its graduation in January but this time this will be on February 21, 2017
- Parents who had paid fees felt cheated.
- Many parents who are educating their children in Makerere University are struggling to pay tuition fees.
- Parents who had not yet paid fees and were unsure of when the University would reopen now must clear all dues within the next two weeks.
- Members of the Athletics team missed out on representing the University at Eastern Africa University games that took place in Kenya last December.
- Students will spend ‘learning hours’ shifting their things back into the campus residencies and checking in for new lecture timetables.
- Continuing students are going to have an adjusted academic calendar and hence prolong their overall Course duration. When they eventually return and the students will pick up where the semester ended. Many of the things they studied in the semester will be forgotten yet they will be required to revise hurriedly and may not perform well in their semester exams.
- Secondary school students in their final year didn’t have access to the Public University Joint Admission Board (PUJAB) Forms on time. Makerere University houses the PUJAB offices and the school administrators could not access the forms. After a public outcry, arrangements were made for schools to get the forms but many boarding school students had to stay on beyond their final UNED exams to fill in the University application forms. Those who were allowed to go home incurred extra transport costs to return so as to fill in the forms.
- Makerere University closed for two months ( November- December 2016)
- The tuition payment deadline was 16 January 2017.
- Makerere is the oldest University in Uganda and one of the leading ten Universities in Africa.
- The 2016 closure was the second longest time the University has been closed since 2006.
- Makerere University has a population of 40,000 students.