Gowns crisis hits Makerere seven days to graduation

Tuesday January 7 2020

Graduates. Makerere Univesrity students during

Graduates. Makerere Univesrity students during their graduation last year. Photo by Alex Esagala  


Makerere University has not secured gowns for graduating students, seven days to the ceremony.
More than 13,000 students will graduate from the university between January 14 to 17 next week.
A source at the university said the supplier is holding the gowns until the outstanding balance for last year’s graduation gowns and this year is all cleared. The source did not reveal how much the supplier is demanding the university.
“We have a gowns crisis at the university because the supplier whom the university contracted to supply branded gowns has refused to release them. The students are stuck,” the source, who declined to be named, said.
“Last year, students started getting their gowns, graduation booklets and the invitation cards for their parents in December. But this year, the gowns are not ready. The graduands have to wait before picking all the three requirements,” the source added.

When Daily Monitor yesterday visited Makerere University’s Senate building where the gowns are usually issued out, there was no business.
Instead, students who had come to pick their gowns were frustrated after they were told to go back and return at another date which would be communicated by the university.
“Our colleagues who graduated last year had received all their things by now, but we have only seven days to go and no one is telling us when to pick our gowns,” one of the graduands, who preferred anonymity, told this newspaper.
Mr Nicholas Muteesasira, a graduand of journalism and communication, said it was frustrating that the gowns were not ready yet the students paid all the required fees.
He said they paid Shs208,000 for a gown, graduation fees, certificate, transcript and convocation.

“I have been spending a lot on transport to come here to pick my gown. I have not even received the graduation booklet and the cards for my parents. I do not know when to come back,” Mr Muteesasira said.
When asked about the matter yesterday, the University Academic Registrar Mr Alfred Masikye, said university would start issuing out the gowns before the graduation, but he did not give the exact date.



Held up
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, told Daily Monitor that the delivery of gowns delayed because the university imported some of them, but were being held at the airport over customs issues.
“The gowns were delayed at the airport for some reason but we are doing everything possible so that we are cleared today at the airport so that our students can start picking them out from their colleges. The supplier was overwhelmed with the number of gowns he was slated to produce this year. So we had to order for some from outside the country,” Prof Nawangwe said.

He dismissed the claims that the supplier is withholding the gowns because the university had not cleared his balance for current and last year’s supplies.
“The gowns were already imported but there was an issue at the airport for clearance. They wanted cash and our system could not process cash immediately. But I am sure that this is going to be solved,” Prof Nawangwe said.
He said 13,509 students will graduate with degrees and diplomas, the highest number of graduands the university is churning out. A total of 420 graduands obtained First Class degrees.