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Makerere to accredit, monitor outside hostels 

University officials announcing the hostel management committee

University officials announcing the hostel management committee

Makerere University has formed a hostel accreditation committee to engage with hostel owners in an effort aimed at strengthening the safety and well-being of renting students.

The accreditation committee will soon sign a memorandum of understanding with the Hostel Owners Association, prior to the accreditation.  

Vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe told the media that this is one of many measures the university has set up to ensure safety of students, staff and other stakeholders that operate within or outside the campus. 

“We have a student population of about 35,000, but only 5,000 stay in our halls of residence on the campus. So, the majority stay in hostels or other spaces outside the campus. There are over 70 hostels ringing around the campus; some people even turned residential homes into hostels,” he said.

Winifred Kabumbuli, dean of students, said the institution has always had good working relations with hostel owners, but they are now aiming to improve the methodology and efficiency of their cooperation. 

Others who addressed the media about developments at Makerere were deputy vice chancellor, academic affairs Prof Umar Kakumba; university secretary Yusuf Kiranda; academic registrar Prof Buyinza Mukadasi; Henry Nsubuga, manager, counselling and guidance services; Cathy Mbidde, director of Makerere University Entrepreneurship and Innovation Centre; and Dr Euzobia Mugisha Baine, director of gender mainstreaming. 

SAFE, CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT

Nawangwe said the various measures being undertaken will provide a safe and conducive environment that is essential for programmes and operations to run smoothly and effectively so as to achieve the objectives of Makerere’s Strategic Direction 2020-2030.

After mentioning some of the policies, guidelines and implementation frameworks the university has already set up over the years, Nawangwe then outlined a set of other measures aimed at boosting safety, well-being and morale at the university.

One is the Disability Support Centre which is being established in a phased manner. The support services under the dean of students have been enhanced by establishing a grievances management desk and a student liaison officer. 

The university is strengthening its communications and public affairs arm, to monitor media publicity about it and to protect its brand integrity. Mainstreaming career guidance and mentorship services; this starts with developing a policy framework and capacity building for certified allies.

Nsubuga said that in partnership with the students guild, they trained 120 ‘counselling buddies’ to encourage students develop a culture of looking out for fellow students with mental health problems and helping them.

“Our target is to train 500 students every year. We have also trained some staff how to identify students with mental issues” he added.  

Since the 2018 amendment of the Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment, dedicated implementation has led to a drastic drop in incidents of sexual harassment. Thirty cases have been handled, at different levels, and so far six members of staff have been sacked. 

Perhaps more profound, is the ongoing development of a Makerere University Safeguarding Policy. Planned to be student-centred, the policy will empower student leaders and representatives to engage in risk mapping and identification of desirable actions.

It establishes a confidential and responsive reporting and management system to facilitate the reporting and management of incidents. Accommodation facilities owners, staff and other partners are urged to be active in the formulation and implementation of this policy.  

In addition, sports is being reinvigorated to help convert negative energy. Hence the indoor sports arena is being renovated, among other activities. 

MINDSET CHANGE COURSE

Nawangwe reported that the university has decided to teach a course on mindset and mindset change so that their graduates do not have to keep expecting to be employed or to feel inferior and inadequate. The course has been developed by the School of Psychology, and it will be cross-cutting – taught for one semester in all university programmes.

The course results will appear on the student’s transcript as an ‘audited course’, meaning it will not influence which pass category one gets. 

“We expect this course to promote positive thinking that will generate positive attitudes towards work, build strong minds that will allow our students to overcome life challenges, enhance self-discipline, inculcate a culture of entrepreneurship and social relationships that nurture respect, compassion, love and commitment that results in more fulfilling life,” he summed up.

COMPULSORY PHD ACQUISITION 

Nawangwe reported that the alert that assistant lecturers at Makerere must have a PhD still stands. He said it derives from the 1999 Prof Akiiki Mujaju report which recommended that starting with the year 2000, the university should assist all its teaching staff to upgrade and attain a PhD. 

While the teaching staff with PhD at that time was only 15 per cent, it currently stands at 75 per cent today, Kakumba said, adding, “All assistant lecturers on permanent terms of service who had not yet embarked on their PhD studies have been reminded to do so and ensure that they have completed their studies by January 31, 2027.

This period given by the University Council is fair, given that the normal duration for a PhD is three to five years. To facilitate this process, the university, as the employer, accords fully paid study leave as well as tuition waivers to staff who enrol on PhD programmes at Makerere”.

jmusinguzi@observer.ug 

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