President Yoweri Museveni has re-affirmed his commitment to increasing the salaries of Academic Staff in public universities in the financial year 2015/16. The President was addressing a packed audience of Makerere University Staff and students in the Freedom Square on 12th September 2014, as the Visitor.
His visit was part of a security awareness week as Uganda Police marks 100 years and also a fulfilment of his promise to meet Staff of Makerere University. His Excellency however emphasized that the increment will take effect on condition that higher education institutions revise their academic programmes to remain with a few that are most relevant.
“If you kindly rationalise the courses, I can assure you we have the money to support public universities. Each year we collect more taxes. This year we hope to collect 10,000bn and next year we may hit 12,000bn. We calculated and realized that provided we initially concentrate on the teaching staff and the lab attendants, the salary increment can be realized,” he asserted.
His Excellency drew on the adage ‘he who fights everywhere fights nowhere,’ to emphasize that tackling the pay of all staff (academic and administrative) at the same time will not be possible in the coming year, but promised that the administrative staff will be looked into at a later date.
The President proposed that some degrees in disciplines like Conflict resolution, Women Studies, and Development studies could instead be treated as papers in sociology and political science. He praised the Department of Quantitative economics and the Department of Food Science and Technology, which he helped start at Makerere University, after he was consulted.
He made reference to the 21st August 2014, meeting he held with a delegation from Makerere University over Staff pay and the 10% fees increment and said, “What I told you will happen. Museveni is just not talking, what he says he does,” sending the Staff members into uncontrollable jubilation.
The Chairperson of MUASA, Dr. Kiggundu Musoke told the President that Makerere University Staff were indeed happy on hearing the news of the salary increment to the tune of 15million for a Professor. He added that the President’s advise will be followed as per the aforementioned meeting.
The President explained that he had initially ‘resisted’ demands for salary increments and new districts so as to support infrastructural development in the country, like roads, so as to lessen the costs of production and encourage exportation of local produce.
He then called on students from Moroto, Moyo and Padibe, who attested to infrastructure development and presence of electricity in these areas now as opposed to the situation before. He said the country’s produce can now be exported to countries in the East Africa region, COMESA and the European Union.
He further referred to the biblical book of Ecclesiastes that talks about a time for everything, adding that the time was right to look into remuneration of Staff in higher institutions of learning.
“I am very interested in having a high quality education system. I think it is time to stabilize, standardise and upgrade the quality of university education in Uganda. It is good but it can be better,” he said.
The new fees structure (10%)
In relation to the new fees structure of an additional 10% to first year students, the President said this strategy was not going to provide a lasting solution to Makerere University’s financial gap, thus the need for his intervention. “My approach is scientific, not emotional. I do not have time for emotions and sensationalism. You need so much more than the 2.4b from the additional fees increment to run the university. I said, let us look for a real solution. We shall get the 2.4b, even this year,” added the President.
The President was glad that the youth, some of them Makerere University students had been trained in self defense tactics with the support of the Uganda Police during the security awareness week. He said they now needed to acquire entrepreneur skills too. “I want someone to put a dose of entrepreneurship in you. Kayihura should find someone to give you a paper on enterprises like value addition, services, ICT; that you can engage in and make some money. If you consider the Business Process Outsourcing (B.P.O) for instance, we can give you capital to rent some space for a call centre and you start that business.
The Guild President H.E. Bwowe also encouraged students to start businesses on their own from humble beginnings, like the famous Bill Gates did.
The Chancellor, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera appreciated the President for his continued interest in the youth as the future generation and the improved relationship between Makerere University and the security forces. “The paradigm shift in the relationship between Makerere University and the security forces is revolutionary and should not be taken for granted. I also want to thank the students for realizing that civilised behavior calls for dialogue and not hooliganism,” he emphasized.
The Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, asserted that the police has continuously embraced community policing and dialogue. He noted that his docket has since registered improvement in handing riotous situations at Makerere University by intervening as early as possible. “I want to thank you, Your Excellency because I have come to you several times in relation to issues in public universities and you have found solutions,” said the I.G.P.
The Periemeter wall
The Guild President, Ivan Bwowe pointed out that the many entrances to Makerere University ty threat and make surveillance difficult. He requested President Museveni to support a perimeter wall around the main campus. H.E Museveni promised to look into this issue at a later date.
Earlier in the opening prayer, Rev. Geoffrey Byarugaba asked the Lord to grant President Museveni fortitude, virtue and grace to lead Uganda.