Masaka nursing students protest after starving for two days

The school principal Kekurina Nausindo struggling (L) to explain to students who were protesting unfair treatment on March 16, 2023. Photo/ Malik Fahad Jjingo 

What you need to know:

  • Management says fees defaulters were denied meal cards because the students owe the school Shs400 million in total arrears 

Police in Masaka District on Thursday dispersed a peaceful demonstration by students of Masaka Comprehensive School of Nursing protesting over what they termed as poor welfare.
The angry students marched to the school freedom square to express their dissatisfaction to the school administration whom they accuse of mistreating them.
The students’ protest was prompted by the administration’s decision to deny fees defaulters food for two days.

 Led by their guild president, Mr Baker Mayanja the nursing students raised concerns ranging from welfare to what they termed as exorbitant fees which they say are too high compared to their counterparts in other government nursing schools. 
They said they are asked surcharges whenever they delay to pay registration fees in time which allegedly is sometimes doubled. 
A nursing student at Masaka Comprehensive School of Nursing pays between Shs 1.4million and Shs1.8m per semester. 

 “The examination registration fees of Shs230, 000 is also included on the school tuition, you wonder why the school administration cannot use part of this money to pay Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board (UNMEB) and instead impose surcharges on us accusing us of delaying to pay the examinations body in time yet a student can’t enter without paying at least 70 percent of tuition,” Mr Mayanja complained. 

 Mr Andrew Kaggwa, another aggrieved student said they need the school administration to start deducting the registration fees from the over 70 percent tuition they are required to pay 
“The tuition fees and the requirements charged are also too high and sometimes you wonder whether you’re in a government institution or not, imagine the requirement fees are almost 25 percent of the tuition fees this is so unfair we need the ministry to intervene and come to our rescue,” he said.

 The students also accuse their tutors of dodging lectures and most of the time they are ordered to make individual reading which they claim at times has contributed to students’ poor performance because they don’t get enough guidance from their tutors.
 “Students at times fail exams, not because they are weak, but because they do individual learning most of the time without the help of the tutors. The school administration needs to work on this as well as our welfare,” Annet Namagembe, another aggrieved student noted.
 The school principal, Ms Kekurina Nausindo, however, dismissed students’ claims of unfair treatment, arguing that the students are aware that the surcharges are supposed to be paid because it’s a policy of the nurses examination body UNMEB for those that delay to pay examination registration fees.
She accused the students of being ungrateful saying she has always allowed them in school and even registering before making payment.

“The students owe the school over Shs400 million in total, and we have come to a point where we can no longer run the institution because of accumulated arrears from the people that supply us food and other items to the extent that a big number of them have suspended their services because of non-payment .This is what prompted the board to come up with a decision to deny meal cards to students who have not paid fees,” she added. 

She said the students have up to March 31, 2023 to clear fees as they prepare for registration to sit examinations or else they will have to pay surcharges of either 50 percent  or 100 percent as per the UNMEB regulations.
 “We would not have reached this level if you [students] had listened to us and paid in time, but only 40 percent  of the students have paid full  fees, and you’re here complaining about services. This is very little money to run the institution, please pay at least up to Shs 200 million so that we can get money to run the institution,” she added. 

Masaka City Police Commander, Mr Hussein Mugarura asked the students to stay calm as the school administrations work on their concerns. 
“Some of your concerns could be genuine but you should know that some issues are beyond your school administration so stay calm as the concerned parties work on them ,but also fulfill your obligations so that the administration can get funds to run the school," Mr Mugarura said before ordering rowdy students to go to their hostels.


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