Makerere University : What Should Be Done to Resolve the Impasse

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Mwambutsya Ndebesa. /Courtesy Photo
By :

Mwambutsya Ndebesa

Makerere University woes will not be solved unless the powers that be listen to alternative views. First of all, there is a policy challenge.

The private sponsorship scheme started without a policy framework. Up to now, there is no policy of private sponsorship at public universities in Uganda.

How does a university operate as public and private at the same time? There should be a policy to clearly define this private and yet public status of a university.

Two, there is a governance problem. The highest governing body is the University Council.

In my opinion, this Council should be an independent body composed of individuals dedicated to education service but not necessarily those affiliated and loyal to the regime so that the team can provide an independent oversight to the university.

Militaristic patronage-based attitudes and values cannot work at a university because a university, by its nature, is a liberal institution. Those seeking to use military means to resolve university issues are on the wrong side of history.

In fact, Council, which is the highest governance organ of the university, should be held accountable for the university crisis.

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Three, I think when appointing management, there should be a criteria beyond academic qualifications. True, the university needs intellectual leadership and therefore needs people of high intellectual calibre such as professors, but it should be professors with also emotional and relational intelligence.

Cognitive intelligence (academic intelligence) is necessary but not sufficient. Emotional and relational competencies are necessary to handle a diversity community such as a university. You need a universal mind to lead an institution with universal characteristics.

Fourth, there is need to break the tradition of students always using rioting as a pressure tool to address issues of a policy nature. You can actually strike without rioting and even disarm those who are craving to beat you.

Students should also seek to target policy makers when striking over policy matters such as fees increment.

The students should also come up with policy alternatives and seek to petition relevant authorities such as the University Council, Ministry of Education and Parliament to address policy matters.

The problem of fees increment is primarily a policy problem and secondly a management problem. You cannot resolve a policy issue by merely looking at management.

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Ndebesa, is a senior lecturer [History] at Makerere University

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