In September this year, Muni University, sitting on a 35-acre hill, will open its doors to pioneer students.
Located two kilometers from Arua town, the university is the sixth public university in Uganda. Prof Christine Dranzoa, the university vice chancellor says the plan is to have a university that addresses the community’s needs.
“The process of legalising the university has started. I hope it will be completed soon,” she explained.
In December last year, Education minister, Jessica Alupo, laid the foundation stone, flagging off construction of the main campus. The demand for a public university in West Nile started in 2007 when a delegation of elders from the region wrote a memorandum to the President asking for a university. In 2009, government, through the ministry of Education and Sports, accented to the idea and a task force led by Prof Dranzoa was formed to oversee the process.
The locals here are happy with President Museveni for fulfilling their demand. “Now our children will access university education from home,” Atiku Solomon said.
The locals donated most of the university land although the main campus sits on land donated by Muni NTC. Last year, World Vision (Arua regional office), donated an assortment of over 7,000 books to the university library. Contrary to other public universities, Prof Dranzoa said Muni’s emphasis will be on science and technology. The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has so far approved courses in information and communications technology, information systems, vocational and technical education, education and nursing sciences.
“We need skilled people in the oil and gas industry. But we are still looking at what other universities have in relation to oil and gas in order to be complimentary and avoid duplication,” Dranzoa said.
The locals here wanted the university named West Nile University and recently threatened to withdraw their land if the university is named otherwise. But Dranzoa says the naming of universities is guided by the Universities and Other tertiary Institutions Act 2001 and according to the act, a university name should be neutral. University West Nile would contravene the act.
A task force was then instituted which came up with Muni University. Muni is the name of the hill on which the university stands. The hill is where opinion leaders and elders from the ethnic Lugbara community congregated in the past to plan for the community.