No one who attended the eighth graduation ceremony of Kabale University at Kikungiri campus last week could have failed to be impressed by the speech and performance of the Minister of Education, retired Major Jessica Alupo, who unlike many Ugandan political leaders, arrived on time.
Earlier, her Ministry had donated some Shs300 million to start the construction of a Science block at the university. The university, led by its industrious vice-chancellor, had put the money to better use than the ministry expected. This was to the delight of Minister Alupo.
Following the inspection of the work so far done, the minister proudly laid the foundation stone of the building before joining the rest of the crowd at the graduation grounds. The photograph taken during this function should be framed and hanged in the university’s Hall of Fame.
The crowd received the minister with enthusiastic cheers. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Joy Kwesiga, gave an informative, professional address befitting of her education and experience. Then minister Alupo addressed the congregation. Her speech was impressive and punctuated with truthfulness and honesty. The minister is an accomplished and credible speaker.
For several years now, Kigezi and the Kabale University community have been debating and wondering about the President’s promise solicited by the visit and letter to him of MP Henry Banyenzaki about what exactly the President wished the Kigezi people do about the University.
Following Banyenzaki’s visit which was made without consulting most members of the university’s governing bodies and stakeholders, the MP, who is supposed to be responsible for Economic Monitoring, excitedly wrote to the President, asking for the fast tracking of the conversion of Kabale University into a constituent college of Mbarara University apparently in order for Kabale University to benefit like Mbarara from public funding.
Unfortunately for Banyenzaki, there was considerable opposition in Kigezi against this undigested, unpalatable and impractical proposal.
The few who gave it lukewarm support were motivated not so much by its viability but by its opportunistic chances to them of retention, advancement and financial gains. Most Kigezians now believe that Banyenzaki’s brainchild of a degraded university was stillborn. However, the idea of the status of a public university which was inclusive in the proposal is good. It means that the university, which was already freely accessible to all and sundry, might also attract regular Government funding.
Incidentally, up to now, Kabale University has always interested the Uganda Government as a private institution. It is situated in the nicknamed Switzerland of the Great Lakes Region of East Africa. It is near the mysterious and picturesque Lake Bunyonyi. It also continues to depend on private donations. These are mostly from the sons and daughters of Kigezi and Uganda, amongst whom; His Excellency President Museveni is one.
In her subsequent remarks, the minister surpassed many previous university visitors. She promised to look for and get more money for the completion of the Science Block. It is estimated that the completion of the building will cost billions of shillings.
On behalf of the founders, governors, management and stakeholders of Kabale University, we thanked and applauded Minister Alupo for her generous commitment to the development of Kabale University. Incidentally, this was not the first minister’s visit to the campus.
She had previously visited the university when leading a fact finding mission about Banyanzaki’s request to the President to make Kabale University a Constituent College of Mbarara University of Science and Technology. The people of Kigezi had told her that they preferred an independent public university. On this second visit, the minister disclosed that the government was still thinking about the proposal.
Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.