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INVESTIGATION: How Makerere don appointed student to lecture in his place

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Dr. Dickson Kanakulya, a lecturer of Philosophy and Human Rights in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University is under fire for assigning a student to teach his colleagues for entire month. At least more than 200 students due for graduation next year are affected.

A university probe team assigned to investigate the matter found Dr. Kanakulya in breach of the university rules, regulations and procedures. The team has recommended that Dr. Kanakulya be referred to the university Appointments Board for Disciplinary Action.

It all started after Dr. Patrick Mangeni Wa’Ndeda, the Dean of School of Liberals and Performing Arts received a petition from three students on the Day program of Bachelor of Ethics and Human Rights on April 25th, 2019. The students complained on the teaching and assessment of EHR31012 [Critical Thinking], a course unit taught during Semester one of the 2018/2019 academic year.

In their petition, a copy of which URN has seen, students raised concerns regarding the management of the course unit and the conduct of the lecturer towards their complaints.  Subsequently, the school’s heads of department meeting held on June 17, 2019, decided to constitute a committee to investigate the matter to find a solution to the student’s complaints and other related issues.

The committee that was constituted on June 19th, 2019 was required to conclude its investigations by July 7th 2019. The probe team was tasked to establish whether the concerned lecturer under taught and to what extent, whether he breached examination and course rules, as well as ascertaining whether the lecturer displaced himself with his undergraduate student in respect of lecturing.

The probe team was led by Associate Prof. Julius Kikooma and Dr. Florence Nansubuga, both from the School of Psychology. The others members were Associate Professor Paul Omach from School of Social Sciences, Dr. Florence Kyoheirwe Muhanguzi from the School of Women and Gender Studies, Esther Kabinga, a legal officer with the Legal directorate in the university and Vincent Ekwang, the College Registrar.

During the investigations, the probe team studied documents provided by the office of the Dean of School of Liberal and Performing Arts, interviews about the complaints and listened to testimonies of the witnesses who were mentioned in the various documents as well as Dr. Dickson Kanakulya, who was assigned to teach the course.

Students Testify Against Lecturer 

William Ssekannyo, one of the affected students, says he has just completed the Bachelor of Ethics and Human Rights course on Day program. According to Ssekannyo, the teaching was not uniform with that of the evening class. He disclosed to the probe team that Dr. Kanakulya came to lecture not more than five times for the day class in the entire semester.  “Instead he would send an evening student, Ms. Irene Nakibirige to lecture,” Ssekannyo disclosed.

He disclosed that Nakibirige taught them very many times because as the day class, they went over a month without the lecturer coming. He also told the probe that they never had a course outline for the said course unit.  Prossy Bameka, another student on the day program testified that they were not taught but the lecturer sent a student to teach them.  “Irene [the student] taught us for about two (2) weeks, twice every week and I attended lecturers about ten times the whole semester,” Bameka disclosed.

According to her, students in her program were asked to pay Shillings.5000 each to attend and watch a compulsory documentary.  “The money was collected by external people who had organised the movie. However, some students never watched the movie because they never had the money for example Ntono Victoria didn’t watch,” she said. Bameka further discloses that the lecturer generally was not available for students. “We went on a trip to Jinja and Mukono and paid Shilling 40,000 for the trip but he just took us to eat and dance,” she disclosed.

Robert Mutebi, another student disclosed that the course was taught by Dr. Kanakulya together with an evening student, Irene Nakibirige who came to teach them during the sessions in Livingstone Hall.  The students say the lecturer only gave them one test towards the end of semester yet the course work results sheet displayed on the noticeboard possessed three columns for course works.

They say the basis for awarding marks was not certain since they were not adequately taught. “I wonder where other marks came from,” Mutebi disclosed to the probe committee. Adding that, “There was a student who was caught cheating in the test but she had even higher marks when the results came. When the invigilator caught her, her script was torn. A number of students witnessed this incident.”

Students also say during the end of semester examinations, answer booklets were provided and Section A was structured and students were required to write their names and registration numbers. But for section B, the students were only asked to write their students numbers, which was surprising.

Pius Tenywa, an evening student of Bachelor of Ethics and Human Rights, says he was contacted one early morning by a classmate Angella Tendo and informing him Dr. Kanakulya wanted somebody to teach the day class.  Tenywa, who is awaiting his graduation, next year, said he attended a few of Dr. Kanakulya’s lectures and missed others due to personal reasons. He told the probe committee that he was the first to be called for the teaching offer but declined since he didn’t think he was ready.

“I suggested another student, Irene Nakibirige because she had the confidence. I am not sure if Irene was given transport money but she taught for about three weeks,” Tenywa told the probe committee.  Tenywa told the probe team that he also believed that some students in their class were being favored by the lecturer.  “One time I needed to see Dr. Kanakulya and Angella Tendo volunteered to take me because she said they were friends.

There is also Anyango Patience who never sat for the test but she had the marks. I also heard that Anyango was caught cheating during their coursework test. She could not have done a special test so where did she get the marks from?” Tenywa wondered.  Tenywa implored the university top management to investigate Dr. Kanakulya on matters of teaching, assessment and awarding marks in critical thinking as well as the head of Department for threatening students for raising complaints against the lecturer.

He alleged that the Head of Department [Dr. Kasozi] called a meeting with the students subsequent to their complaints and threatened them.  According to this student, Dr. Kasozi said “we need to nullify what we wrote and need to know that we are students.” He observes that Innocent Byegarazo and others who signed the letter distancing themselves from the first petition is friends with Dr. Kanakulya.

He said they received threats from the lecturer and the head of department that they wouldn’t graduate if they didn’t nullify the first letter.

Nakibirige Confesses Having Taught Colleagues

Irene Nakibirige was invited to testify in the matter since she is at the center of the investigations. She said although she could not verify some of the complaints against the lecturer were true. She told the probe one Monday morning at about 7:00am, she received a phone call from a classmate called Tendo Angella who informed her she had just called about two evening students including Tenywa Pius and Innocent Byagarazo who had disappointed her.

She reportedly said Dr. Kanakulya had requested her to look for someone among the evening class to help teach the day class Critical Thinking.  “At first I rejected the request because I was afraid as I wasn’t prepared but later, I accepted since I was helping my fellow students,” Nakibirige disclosed.   The evening class was ahead of the day class by about four topics. The student thought this as a good chance to interact with fellow students and would be benefiting through the class discussions.  “I prepared myself that morning and about 9:00am went to Livingstone Hall and taught the students,” she said.

All this happened the first semester of the academic year 2018/2019 between August and December. The student confessed having used her class notes and personal research especially from internet to teach the day class.  A few days after the first lecture, Dr. Kanakulya is said to have called her thanking her for helping him. The lecturer allegedly asked if there was anything he could do or give her to repay her, but she refused, saying she had taught in good faith.

She would later lecture a few more times about four double shift lectures in total, for about a month. Nakibirige says she never met the lecturer to discuss any reward but was shocked by the 10 marks she got in her coursework. The student claimed she was very active in class but was not sure how she scored the mark as students have never received feedback about their performance. She says students have no idea how the coursework was assessed.

“I discussed my discontentment of my Critical Thinking marks with a lecturer Dr. Lajul who advised me to appeal if I was not contented. I was helping the lecturer to teach day class and I don’t know how I scored low marks yet the lecturer trusted me enough to teach,” Nakibirige.

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