Recently, on a dull and rainy Friday morning, I set off for Busoga University’s 10th graduation ceremony.
The ceremony, scheduled for 10 o’clock, started an hour later, prompting the organisers to rush through the day’s programme. Unlike most university graduations that are full of pomp and entertainment, there was no fanfare, except for the band that ushered in the procession.
With the exception of the national and university anthems, there was no any other form of entertainment. It was simply getting on with the business at hand – speeches, conferring degrees and awarding diplomas and certificates.
“At an occasion like this, achievements of our university since the last graduation deserve celebration and it cannot go unmentioned,” said Prof Christopher Bakwesegha, the vice chancellor.
Indeed the university has every reason to celebrate because it has grown from 97 graduands during its first graduation in 2001 to 1,300 this year. Back then, in 1999, it only had five programmes and now boats of 55. The graduands were awarded degrees, diplomas and certificates in various fields, which included: Business, Education, Law, Journalism and Information Technology, Medicine, Engineering, and Fine Art.
The university has particularly become an education hub for mature-age entrant Kenyans and students from Busoga region. It is yet to be well received by young students.
“Basing on its geographical location, it has become easy and cheap for Kenyans along the Uganda-Kenya border to come here for university education,” said the dean of students, Grace Tusubira.
In fact, on this occasion, half of the graduands were Kenyans. Besides, the education is relatively cheap compared to other universities. Students pay approximately Shs 1.6m a year, according to Tusubira.
“Uganda is a good place and in particular the Basoga are social and understanding,” said Gatundu Maina, a Kenyan graduand.
Maina, 25, who received an upper-second degree was the best in his Law class of 57, which had only Kenyans. And of the 57 Law graduands, three passed the Law Development Centre pre-entry exams and have been admitted to the centre. Another 15 have joined the Kenya School of Law.
“I am just waiting to become a practising advocate of the High Court of Kenya,” said a confident Hellen Okola, who also got an upper-second degree. She is currently at the Kenya School of Law. But the increased enrolment has brought its own problems: the university faces infrastructural challenges.
“Basing on this trend, we are yet to host a fundraising event that will take place on December 8 to see that we can collect the needed resources,” said Andrew Balondemu, Busoga University’s public relations officer.
The event is expected to raise Shs 22bn to be used for a modern library, computer and science laboratories, lecture theatres and an assembly hall. President Yoweri Museveni and Kenyan premier, Raila Odinga, are expected at the event.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who doubles as the University Council chairperson will host the duo. The chancellor Dr Michael Kyomya advised the graduands to put their qualifications to proper use.
“Completing education is one task but you now have a challenge of changing your communities to reflect what you studied,” he said.