Reviews & Profiles
Where are Makerere’s private students having their meals?
Posted Thursday, October 24 2013 at 01:00
For a long time, Makerere University had proposed to outsource meals for students residing in the institution’s halls of residence. However, when this did not happen, the university opted to scrap meals for its private students this academic year, which started on September 14.
Although the university may have had genuine concerns when the policy was effected, this decision has affected many students. Although they are allowed in the halls, they cannot have meals there. Their government sponsored counterparts, on the other hand, are not affected by the policy.
Initially, for a semester, private students would pay Shs460,000 for both meals and accommodation for four months; 240,000 for meals and 220,000 for accommodation which has remained unchanged.
Not only has this policy turned out to be inconveniencing but it is also costly for the students and certainly for their parents too.
Yes, there are a number of restaurants in the university like Guild Canteen and Staff Canteen among others, but most students cannot afford their food prices on a daily basis for four months.
The other alternative could be the food vendors and the canteens in the halls of residence but these do not have the capacity to cater for the large number of private students in the halls.
Joshua Nsiimenta, a third year student of Actuarial Science, says the university’s decision to suspend meals for private students has changed his lifestyle. “I sometimes have to choose between having lunch and a lunch-time lecture. If I have a lecture at 2pm, it gets hard for me to go to Wandegeya to have lunch.”
An unbearable situation
Whereas a student can afford a decent meal once in a while, this may prove hard due to the high food prices.
“When I have money, I go to Guild Canteen or Wandegeya because that is where I believe I can get good food but I can’t afford to go there everyday.
At times, I have to go to kikumikikumi (a popular food joint for students at the University) to look for low-priced food which is sometimes poorly prepared,” Nsiimenta shares. Because it is not possible to have lunch and supper daily due to logistics, some meals are forfeited.
“In case I miss lunch, I wait up to about 4pm when I have a meal that then serves as both lunch and super,” he says.
Nsiimenta estimates that he will spends more money than what he would have, had he topped up on the university’s proposed structure.
The university had initially proposed to have an increment.
“This would have been unfair because the standard of meals was going to remain the same. Nothing was to be added or improved,” Nsiimenta says.
This semester alone, he estimates that he will spend about Shs600, 000 on meals alone.
The alternatives are not any better. The hygiene of the food vendors is questionable but it does not stop students from rushing for the meals they bring.
At one of the food selling points inside Mitchell Hall, by midday, the women who sell the food had already set up their mobile kiosks displaying their food packed in small transparent plastic dishes.
Because the students are aware that the food will be sold out in a few minutes, there is usually a mad dash for it.
There is a variety of food on offer. In the transparent food containers, there are beans, groundnuts and the most expensive item is chicken, which is sold at Shs3,000. But before 2pm, the food is sold out and the frustration of those who have missed out is visible. A student who has missed these affordable meals shares his plight: “At times, you do not have an alternative but to eat buns or cakes and a soda before going for lectures.”
Posing a health threat
Some students, however, have resorted to preparing their own meals in their rooms.
Students who cook do not follow the right procedure to ensure hygiene in the hall. “They pour leftovers in the sinks causing them to be clogged hence flooding in the hall.”