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CAMPUS VIBE: Uproar as Makerere privatizes bookshop, canteen, printery

BY HAGGAE MATSIKO

Makerere University is likely to be a private institution in a few years time largely because all its sources of income are being sold out to ambitious business people, student leaders have complained. Student leaders say mismanagement and poor planning is the reason tuition fees have been spiraling at Uganda’s oldest institution of higher learning.


Kenneth Byamugisha, an Advisor to the Makerere University Private Students Association (MUPSA) told The Observer that: “When various sources of income like the Guild Canteen, University Printer, University Bookshop and University Guest house were put in place, the idea was that on top of serving learning purposes, they would earn the university some income that would help run various activities, and help subsidize the cost of studying and living.”
 
He, however, adds: “These have since been mismanaged and later privatized, leaving the students to shoulder the cost of studying yet Makerere University is a government institution where the cost of studying should be relatively low compared to private universities.”
According to Byamugisha, the University Printer is now run by a one Tumusiime and the Guild Canteen by a company which also runs Club Five near the Faculty of Law.

“What is worse is that the University Council even plans to scrap meals for government sponsored students and to privatise halls of residence. How is a peasant’s child who has secured government sponsorship supposed to cope with such a state of affairs?” wondered Byamugisha.

However, according to Gilbert Kadilo, the University Public Relations Officer, “all the above are still commercial units of the university which are run by the university except the Guild Canteen.”
Kadilo added: “For the case of the Guild Canteen, the university has a management arrangement with a company which runs it, and in this arrangement the revenue generated is shared accordingly between the management and the university.”

Robert Okware, the Guild President, however, insisted that much as they are commercial units for the university, they should not be exploitative like they are right now, since they are intended to serve the students.
“The Guild Canteen used to be relatively cheaper and affordable to students compared to restaurants in Wandegeya, but now the prices at the canteen are very high; students are being exploited. The same applies to the University Bookshop: it is entirely profit oriented.”

Kadilo insisted: “As for the prices charged at these commercial units, students should look out for what they can afford because there are costs of production which even if they were run by the university, one would not dodge.”
Although Kadilo denied that the entities were privatised, a source in the university administration that declined to be disclosed told The Observer that most of the so-called university commercial units have been put under private management so that some university officials can privately benefit from them under the guise of running them efficiently.

He claimed that these resources have been turned into private avenues of making money, the reason their charges are high.
Meanwhile the university still battles with the guild over government sponsored students’ allowances and outsourcing meals for them. As of now government sponsored students are paid per semester Shs390,000 as their accommodation allowance, and an additional Shs70,000 for meals. Now the university plans to completely stop providing meals to students in halls of residence.    

Okware added that in an earlier meeting with the University Council it was agreed that students be paid Shs4,000 for meals per day instead of Shs2,000, which the university still pays to-date. The student leaders still want the government to retain the responsibility of providing meals rather than money to students.

 mha.gae@hotmail.com

Makerere girl wins varsity public speaking contest

BY IMMACULATE WANYEZE

Kellen Makuru, a Social Sciences student at Makerere University has won this year’s inter-university public speaking contest. Ms Makuru walked home with a brand new laptop while the first and second runners-up got a desktop computer each.

Makerere University Students Guild and the National Youth Council organized the joint university public speaking contest held on September 24 at Sheraton Hotel Kampala. The contest was meant to tap into the hidden communication skills of young women from different universities. The contest’s theme was: “A change we believe in to change women in societies.”

The universities, which participated included; Makerere University Business School (MUBS), Kyambogo University, Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) and Makerere University. Winston Kavuma, the General Secretary of the public speaking competition said preliminaries were held in each of the participating universities and five representatives from each university were chosen for the finals.

Forty-one contestants participated.   Each of the representatives was supposed to choose topics that affect women such as sexual harassment, cross-generational sex, women in leadership, managing one’s sexuality, female academic performance and information and communication technology (ICT) empowerment of women.  

Participants were each given nine minutes to sway the public with their oratory skills and also convince the judges. If a contestant failed to utilize at least six minutes, she was automatically disqualified. Francis Kabuye, the Chairman of the contest’s organizing committee argued that this was a grand opportunity for the girls to express their views.

Kabuye said Makuru won because she was smart, had a well researched theme, made a good introduction, managed time and used the language properly. Other prizes included certificates and phones for participants who did not make it to the top. For ladies who missed out this opportune chance of show casing their oratory, they can try next year, same month.

wanyenze@observer.ug


Foreign universities grace Rainbow's career fair

BY DIANA NABIRUMA

About a dozen foreign universities last week attended Rainbow International School’s annual career fair at Sheraton Hotel Kampala. The international universities and university college centres that attended included: Coventry, Brighton, Kent, Buckingham and Sikkim Manipal universities. There were also over 10 local agencies representing foreign universities.

However, local universities did not attend. Myfanwy Bolingbroke, Rainbow’s Public Relations Officer, attributed the absence of local universities to the fact that Ugandan universities claim they are over-subscribed and see no need to showcase their services at this fair.
But Bolingbroke said local universities stand to lose by not attending because they miss out on convincing the crème de la crème students to join their universities.

Students from local schools that attended the two-day fair included those from Rainbow International School, Kibuli Secondary School and Agha Khan High School. Students and other people that seek to further their studies abroad stood to gain from the fair because on hand were officials from various universities and these spoke to interested students about the courses those universities offer.

Besides pointing out the courses available at their respective universities, they also offered career guidance. The annual fair, which has been running for six years, was closed by Buganda’s Minister of Education and Sports, Fred Masagazi, who lauded the school’s management for organising the fair and thanked the international universities that participated. He promised that come next year, Mutesa I Royal University will be in attendance.

dnabiruma@observer.ug

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