What you need to know:
- Speaking during the celebration, Prof Ezra Suruma, the chancellor of the university, asked the government to strengthen primary and secondary schools to improve the quality of education in the country.
- The university receives around Shs30 billion every year from the government. The university has also introduced a loan for some PhD students who cannot afford tuition.
The government is discussing plans to block children of the rich from getting government scholarships to study at universities.
This was revealed yesterday by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, during the Makerere University centennial celebrations in Kampala, where President Museveni was the Guest of Honour.
Mr Tayebwa said the scholarships should be ring-fenced for children of the poor to promote equity in access to education because the rich parents can afford university tuition.
“Most [of the] beneficiaries of government sponsorships are students from well-to-do families. They are children of the rich [who qualify] from [Mt St Mary’s College] Namagunga, [St Mary’s College] Kisubi and [St Mary’s] Kitende,” he said.
He added: “That is where all of us are taking our children so that they excel and they benefit from government scholarship. The school fees in some of those schools are higher than the tuition fees of the university.”
Mr Tayebwa told the President at the event that they are preparing a proposal that will be presented to him. He didn’t give the timeline.
Some students from upcountry, however, benefit from the district quota system which was introduced in 2005 by the government to give a chance to students from districts that do not benefit from the national merit scheme. But Mr Tayebwa said this is not enough.
According to information from the government, every year, of the 4,000 government scholarships, 75 percent of the slots are reserved for the national merit scheme while the remaining slots are given to district quota.
Mr Museveni, while speaking at the event which attracted alumni, development partners and government officials from Uganda and other countries, said he has instituted a committee to review the entire education system.
Applauding the science and health departments of Makerere University, the President, as he has done in the past, questioned the relevance of the content lecturers are teaching learners in art departments.
He mentioned the development at Makerere Medical School, which led to discoveries such as the link between cancer and infectious diseases, and the advances in the College of Engineering which led to the manufacturing of an electric vehicle, among others.
However, some of the technologies like the electric vehicle have not yet been deployed to solve the problems they were intended to years after launch.
Mr Museveni said Uganda is not prospering because of the low prioritisation of sciences, a position that has been questioned by some legislators and educationists.
“There is an educational review commission headed by Hon Amanya Mushega. The aim of that commission is to audit the education system in Uganda,” the President said.
He added that although Makerere University has made some achievements, the management needs a holistic understanding of society to support the government in addressing issues affecting development in the country.
“In 1922, Makerere University was established, but we have been here for four and half million years. How can the education system just concentrate on 100 years [of existence?]” he asked.
Referring to the Bible, Mr Museveni said his government is determined to reorganise what is taught in universities so that the country can become independent and liberate itself from dependence on foreign countries.
“This 1922 [establishment of Makerere University] is a phenomenon at certain historic point as a consequence of what was going on before. We should ask how the African society was organised before colonialism,” Mr Museveni said.
He added: “The African social scientists should study what was happening in society before colonialism. Why was Africa conquered [and colonised?”
The university was established in 1922 by the British colonial government as a small vocational school, which would eventually become the country’s most prestigious institution, Makerere University.
Speaking during the celebration, Prof Ezra Suruma, the chancellor of the university, asked the government to strengthen primary and secondary schools to improve the quality of education in the country.
“The institutions that serve the critical needs of our people are still in formative stages. We hope and pray that the growth and maturity that Makerere University has attained in research and teaching over the last 100 years can serve as an example to other national institutions to not only survive but also attain excellence in serving our people and the world,” he said.
The Makerere University Council chairperson, Ms Lorna Magara, applauded the government for constantly providing research and innovation funds for Makerere University to address societal needs.
The university receives around Shs30 billion every year from the government. The university has also introduced a loan for some PhD students who cannot afford tuition.
“As we begin the journey into the next century, the council and management have embarked on transitioning Makerere into a research and innovation hub,” she said.
Ms Magara added: “All innovators and visionaries from within and outside Makerere, including the artisans from the informal sector, are welcomed to leverage this to test and develop their concepts and designs in our innovation hub.”
Mr Tayebwa, however, asked alumni of the university to come up and support the development at the university, saying the government cannot provide all that the university needs.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said they have commenced reconstruction of the main building which was destroyed by fire last year. He added that the works were funded by the government.
“We are constructing a perimeter wall along the university. The National Enterprise Corporation is constructing the wall,” he said.