ANDREW MWENDA: Frank memo to Makerere students

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Andrew M. Mwenda
By :

Andrew M. Mwenda

There is a suffocating sense of entitlement among students at Makerere University that they occupy a special place in our country and should be treated as princes. The current strike over the 15% increase in fees is just one of many examples.

First there are more students enrolled in private universities than Makerere. Second, private students in public universities pay less than their counter parts in private ones. Yet while students who pay nothing or little at Makerere are always going to strike, students who pay a lot of money in private universities do not strike. Given that Makerere is the 4th best university in Africa, it means students in private universities pay more for less quality of education.

Why should being at a public university entitle anyone to special treatment at taxpayers’ expense? Why are those who send their kids to private universities not also entitled to the same benefits of free or cheap education paid for by the taxpayer? Are they lesser citizens? Do they contribute less to the country?

What we are seeing at Makerere is decades of indoctrination in the welfare state ideology of entitlement, victimhood and grievance. It is an ideology that is promoted by opposition politicians, journalists, academics and pundits and is pandered to by President Yoweri Museveni to win votes. It is an ideology that will destroy this country.

Siperia Mollie, the female students’ leader who was expelled from the University on Tuesday after she took part in a protest against the unfair tuition policy. She is now in hospital after being attacked by un known people at Complex Hall, Makerere University. /Courtesy Photo

It is also an ideology that has created a dysfunctional elite – angry, intolerant and quarrelsome. They want to get everything from the state for free or cheaply: health, education, roads, etc but contribute nothing in return. This was most evidenced during protests against the social media tax.

We have therefore a highly cultivated sense of entitlement without a corresponding sense of obligation or even proportion to the resources available to meet such entitlements. This has put us on a perilous path to social upheaval.

Many Ugandan elites blindly support this entitlement culture because it places them on higher moral or intellectual plane than others, at least in their own estimation. For the politicians, promoting a sense of victimhood and grievance among a section of the population is profitable as it brings them votes by projecting themselves as defenders of the downtrodden. Yet this entitlement culture is economically counterproductive and socially destructive.

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Andrew M. Mwenda – is a Ugandan journalist, founder and owner of The Independent News Magazine

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I read Mwendas statements with annoyance and disregard at first but after thinking over again I would like to say that yes Mwenda is right just that these statements are put against a wrong context.These kids were not demanding beyond expectations.The university on the other hand should have studied and understood the effects price rises will always have on this society and handled this with the administrative intelligence and respect it deserves.I cant understand how rises in costs in all courses can have the same effect of 15% in all courses for 5 years.Otherwise the beating of students at the institution is a bad precedent that should not go unpunished.

  2. Sometimes, it’s better to keep quite. Nevertheless, Mr Andrew’s opinion is right in accordance to his to his sense otherwise he is wrong
    The 15% fees increment which was signed by Papa were (the guild) was cumulative in that a after Every academic year, there is an increase of 15% which implies that at moment it’s at 45% fees increment.
    Secondly, makerere university is a public university so can’t compare it with other private universities in terms of fees. Given the fact that the latter gets a lot donors and grants from outside stakeholders than the former universities.
    Thirdly, the condition or state at which the halls of residence is? …… It’s only the female’s Halls of residence and in particular Africa hall which is at a at least a good condition otherwise they should device means of renovating or working on the laundries.
    So, the board should find a way of deactivating the cumulative annual 15% fees increment because the person who signed that on behalf of the students might have been slapped with a token of cash which mapped him to sign what he might had a little good knowledge about. Nevertheless we make laws and we brake them, so in a similar way the government should just demolish the increment.
    For God and My Country

  3. Makerere university has a long history of student strikes; some of which are indeed justified. I am aware that Makerere university receives massive donor funding to facilitate research and capital developments across all its colleges as compared to any other university in the country. Its not fair for Andrew Mwenda to compare the funding modalities at Makerere to the private universities which almost depend entirely on fees collections.

    Despite the limited funding base in private universities, there is a fairly good attempt made to show accountability and value for money in the different aspects of students’ life including the high level of hygiene and sanitation as compared to Makerere which receives funds from the national treasury and international donors.

    It is indeed disheartening and disappointing to note that a premier university like Makerere can’t afford to effectively cater for the welfare of its clients despite the enormous funding it receives. Its unfair for Mr Mwenda with a fair knowledge of financial management to make a comparison of Makerere and private universities in terms of what they earn. Private universities foot all their operational costs in addition to the capital developments and yet with limited sources of funding as compared to Makerere.

    I sometimes get time to look at the state of halls of residence at Makerere and I collapse in disbelief. You will always come across dirty and smelly toilets which in my view wouldn’t have been the case at a centre of civilisation like Makerere. Some of these halls were last painted in the seventies and thank God that nature has been fair enough to this great institution to allow the thick layers of dust to settle on the walls so as to substitute the paint.

    So, the students at Makerere are adults and they are aware that this university receives a lot of funds which are not utilised in a transparent manner. Let the management of Makerere assess themselves and may be borrow a leaf from private universities.

  4. Mr Andrew mwenda I may say that you’re not correct even 20 % because the government of Uganda should provide free education to its citizens so students of makerere university are Ugandan citizens so Andrew mwenda should stop attacking students like the way he is attacking animals and secondly why have they deployed army and military men to raid halls of residence of makerere students.

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