If Uganda had progressive leadership, by this time they would have listened to calls of sense which advise Government to stop sponsoring students who are alleged to have excelled because it does not make sense any more and instead just cripples the institution, fuels cheating to pass HOC exams as well as strikes.
Some of us see this as one real proof of an expired and tired regime.
Three years ago, a charged university council sat at Makerere to look into the persistent problem of insufficient funds.
The main cause of this point on the agenda was the government’s failure to remit Shs 25bn in debts, owed to university over the years, for students studying under government sponsorship.
But the tide in the meeting turned, when it emerged that the university administration was planning to increase tuition fees to meet the gap in funds. University Council members were displeased that management was not collecting funds due to it from private students on time, but was moving to increase tuition fees.
Thus, the council passed the resolution that students had to have paid 60 per cent of their tuition by the sixth week, and 100 per cent by the 10th week. The university management was tasked to uphold this directive. Unfortunately, ever since the council directive was passed, it has never been upheld.
Every time students get to the sixth week, they call a strike, aware that the university administration will call for an extension on the deadline to pay tuition.
According to the vice chancellor, Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu, the university enrolment stands at 41,000, with 7,000 being sponsored by the government, while over 25,000 of the remaining 34,000 had paid their tuition in full, as of Monday last week.
In any other institution, public or private, there would be no justification to extend the deadline for paying tuition. The fee defaulters would be sent away until they can find the money to pay their obligations in full. Unfortunately, the situation at Makerere is different.
According to the police, less than 500 students were involved in the strikes last week. These students held the nearly-100-year-old institution at ransom, until the same university council sat last Thursday to suspend the same directive they passed, barely three years ago.
It does not take one to earn a degree at Makerere to know that you can always get away with trouble, if you garner 100 angry voices to support your cause there.
Makerere should not be surprised if less than 25,000 students pay their tuition on time next semester, as there is already a precedent. If you are late with your payments, there will be another strike and the deadline to pay will be extended, anyway.