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- Prof Ezra Suruma said whereas the introduction of UPE in 1997 and USE in 2007 had increased universal access to education, the quality of education is still wanting.
The Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Ezra Suruma, has stressed the need to strengthen the country’s standards of education, especially under the government’s free Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE).
Prof Suruma said whereas the introduction of UPE in 1997 and USE in 2007 had increased universal access to education, the standard of education is still wanting.
He was presiding over Day Two of the 72nd graduation ceremony of Makerere University at the university’s Freedom Square yesterday.
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He cited poor performance of UPE pupils in literacy and numeracy tests as an indication of poor standards of education.
More than 2,000 students from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the College of Education and External Studies, were yesterday awarded degrees and diplomas in different disciplines. Out of these, 24 students were awarded PhDs.
“In the area of education, we need drastic improvements in the performance of our children in UPE in particular. Government has made a drastic achievement in declaring universal access to education but the standard of education in UPE schools requires remarkable improvement,” he observed.
He added: “Performance of UPE pupils in literacy and numeracy tests has been known to be as low as 50 percent nationally in some years. We cannot, as a country, afford primary school graduates who cannot read and write, or count correctly the income from the sale of three eggs.”
He also noted that creating, managing and maintaining institutions that provide efficient and honest services to citizens is still a challenge.
“This challenge is at the national level, for example, starting with Makerere University and going all the way down to the parishes, in schools, health centres, community access roads, water for homes and irrigation and so on,” Prof Suruma said.
He urged institutions of learning to conduct research that improves incomes, health, food security and resilience, especially at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic and environmental uncertainty hit the country.
“As the President said in his remarks yesterday [Monday], we need to be sensitive about the African condition and to endeavour to translate our research into a form that can easily be applied by members of the public and policy makers. I am pleased to hear that the volume of research conducted at this institution has continued to grow and the ranking of the university both in Africa and globally is better than ever before,” he said.
Prof Suruma said the private sector should partner with the government to establish better institutions that can systematically transform parishes such as cooperatives that can help farmers access genuine agricultural inputs and assist in drying, sorting, storing and marketing agricultural products to meet the requirement standards.
The university Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said the Shs30b research fund that the government allocates to the university annually had drastically transformed Makerere.
“Out of the 1,200 applications received, more than 700 research grants have so far been allocated and more than 500 innovations have been recorded, many of them with potential of commercialisation,” he said.
“Our biggest challenge now is transforming research and innovations into goods and services to fuel our economy,” he added.
Today, graduands from the Colleges of Business Management and Sciences (CoBAMS), Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), and the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-security (CoVAB) will receive their awards.
The graduation ceremony that ends on Friday, will see a total of 12,474 graduands receive degrees and diplomas. Of these, 100 are graduating with PhDs, 1,236 with Masters degrees, 10,998 with Bachelor’s degrees and 140 with under graduate and post graduate degrees.
Mr Albert Nuwagira, who was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science and Technology, was announced the best science student with CGPA of 4.82 .