BY AWORI ESTHER LUCY
KAMPALA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| Following a meeting with Guild leaders from various universities in Uganda, where they complained of unpreparedness by the tertiary institutions, the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has summoned the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni together with Finance minister, Matia Kasaija in regards to the scheduled re-opening of universities.
Universities are due to open for finalists this weekend. During the meeting, the guild leaders raised concern over the preparedness of their institutions, as well as demands for 100 per cent tuition payment despite the financial crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guild leaders were from Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Uganda Christian University (UCU) and Uganda Martyrs’ University.
The group led by the Makerere University guild president Julius Katerega and UCU’s guild president Timothy Kadaga presented a petition to the speaker, in which, they prayed that final students with fees challenges are allowed to sit for examinations and required to complete their payment upon accessing transcripts.
“In recognition of the financial challenges all academic institutions have faced following their closure for the last six months, the government should provide a stimulus package to enable them to get back on their feet. Online learning should also be suspended because it’s discriminatory in nature and inefficient especially to medical students whose curriculum requires 85 per cent physical interaction between lecturers and students,” reads part of the petition.
Lawel Joshua Muhwezi, Makerere University guild speaker added that necessary preparations should also be made to make sure that continuing students report back to school physically. He argued that the COVID-19 standard operating procedures among students are easier to regulate whey they are in institutions of learning as opposed to when they are in the community.
Timothy Kadaga also appealed that private universities are exempted from paying taxes during the pandemic in order to ease their financial burden.
In reaction to the petition, the speaker noted that parliament may not convene for full sitting for the next two weeks and so proposed a meeting between the ministers of Education, Finance, students and university vice-chancellors to iron out the issues.
Makerere University Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe has made it clear that all the students reporting back must pay full tuition.