STATEMENT ON CLOSURE OF MAKERERE UNIVERSITY.
Fellow Ugandans, we need to take cognisance of the major crisis our country’s education sector. It is not a crisis of Makerere University alone, neither is it limited to only public universities but, rather the entire education sector.
The crisis in the education sector is indicative of the broader crisis in the entire governance for the last 30yrs.
To understand the depth of the crisis, you will realise that the Minister of Education for the troubled sector is the wife to Mr. Museveni. If they developed a domestic row, who will take the responsibility to advise the other?
We have a deep crisis of governance which, quite clearly, is affecting the greatest percentage of our population – the young people.
Uganda has the youngest population in the world with majority Ugandans under 15yrs. We have a country of children and young people, implying that education is of greater importance.
The crisis at Makerere is not new. It has affected the country because education is the foundation for our development. Good education drives up innovation. Poor education kills innovation. All public universities are troubled.
Makerere was closed in a very controversial way. Parents were affected, students were inconvenienced and the university calender grossly affected. So we believe closure could have been avoided.
The Universities and Tertially Institutions Act does not empower the president to close a public university.Therefore, the closure was totally uncalled for.
Previously, a team of emminet academicians and other eminent persons led by Prof. Francis Omaswa conducted an inquiry and came up with a comprehensive report about the problems affecting Makerere university. Regretably, the recommendations of that comprehensive report were never implemented yet the Omaswa committee was constituted to investigate the same problems.
Therefore, the Abel Rwendeire visitation committee should simply use the Omaswa report to address Makerere university problems. The committee should not waste public resources for three months doing an inquiry when there is already a comprehensive report with wide raging recommendations.
We would like to protest the unilateral decision to close the leading institution in the country and we would like Parliament to treat it as a matter of national importance. We believe parliament should reappropriate money to see that lecturers are paid immediately. They deserve to be paid.
We also demand that the University is reopened within 10days. Failure do so, we shall consider calling for national protests.
Students have a right to study without inconvinience. This is the second time the university is closed this semister- this time indefinitely. Students must graduate in January.
Besides, medical students provide the backbone of Kampala hospitals staff. Currently, the post graduate students supervise the intern doctors that offer most of the medical services. Therefore the closure has far reaching consequences.
Already, according to reports, 15 children die daily from Kawempe Hospital because of lack of medical staff as a result of the closure of Makerere University. We cannot allow this to go on. We must stop it collectively.
We are engaging with all Makerere university stakeholders to see that the University is reopened as a matter of urgency. Here we have the political wing led by the Makerere University Councillors Nyanjura Doreen, Justus Akampurura. We are engaging some members of staff. Our core objective is to see the University reopens.
Statement by Kizza Besigye, Uganda’s opposition leader