What you need to know:
- The lecturers state that ‘the core mandate of the University which is discharged by Academic Staff, includes teaching, research and out-reach, which mandate is unique in nature and is totally different from the routine public service mandate, whose working hours are 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.’
Makerere University Lecturers through their professional association, Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA), have rejected the University’s Biometric System meant to curb absenteeism.
The rejection comes in shortly after the University began implementing a bio-metric attendance management system to curb absenteeism, which system was, according to the institution, ‘a part of government’s integrated Human Capital Management System (HCM) to automate human resource management functions in the public service.’
In a letter seen by Monitor to the University Council Chairperson, Mrs Lorna Magara, dated October 20, the lecturers state that ‘the core mandate of the University which is discharged by Academic Staff, includes teaching, research and out-reach, which mandate is unique in nature and is totally different from the routine public service mandate, whose working hours are 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.’
The letter was received on October 23 by the office of the Vice Chancellor.
Signed by Dr Robert Kakuru, MUASA Chairperson, the letter also stated in part that the ‘University cannot be managed like mainstream public service, secondary or primary schools,’ and that ‘the University's business processes are unique and those performing its activities must be given utmost space to carry out their work, or else decimate the University.’
The lecturers mentioned that the ‘aforementioned activities are not conducted from office only and that most of these activities are conducted outside the walls of an office, before, during and past the official public service working hours of 8:00am to 5:00pm.’
There was an argument that the bio-metric management system undermines other responsibilities that the lecturers carry out before or beyond the stipulated public service work hours such as evening classes.
“The Academic Staff have been teaching on Evening Programmes, and External Programmes whose time is outside the public service framework of 8:00am to 5:00pm. Monday to Friday. The proposed biometric system will lead to the collapse of these Programmes.”
The lecturers want management to focus instead on productivity as opposed to physical presence on campus.
“Forceful implementation of the Biometric system is regarded as backward and will lead to brain drain, and particularly, many staff resignations. The University should not focus on physical presence but productivity of staff in terms of output,” the letter stated in part.
The lecturers further suggested that the ‘Millions of Shillings being spent on the bio-metric system should be re-priotised to retool staff to be able to execute their mandate.’
“As earlier noted, in most Colleges there are limited lecture rooms, no power point projectors, and no networked computers in the lecture rooms, which are critical for teaching and learning. In the current 21st Century University teaching and research, Makerere University cannot afford an anti-plagiarism software for each staff, and graduate student. As a result, academic supervisors approve research outputs without such critical quality assurance tests, with a possibility of many glaring cases of plagiarism that are approved with no checks. Yet the University can afford millions of shillings for a Biometric System,” the letter stated in part.
The lecturers explained that there are ‘better competitive ways of monitoring Academic Staff performance and productivity and these should be developed through widespread consultation and benchmarks with universities of similar stature.’