Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University Guild President, Julius Kateregga has asked the Education Committee of Parliament to intervene to prevail on the university council and management to halt the implementation of the 15 percent tuition increment policy.
He was appearing before the Committee on Monday evening to explain student’s grievances related to the tuition policy.
This follows weeks of unrest at University. On October, 22, 2019, Makerere University students rose up in protest against the implementation of the 15 percent cumulative fees increment.
The policy provides that the university will increase tuition by 15 percent every academic year for the next five years.
The policy took effect with the students enrolled for the 2019/2020 academic year triggering chaos in the university with the students, saying it will deny children from poor families from accessing education.
As a result of the chaos, which saw security military and police officers brutalize students in their hall of residences, the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga directed the Education Committee of parliament to investigate the unrest at Makerere University.
The committee is expected to consider matters related to the cumulative tuition policy, financial management, allegations of torture, sexual harassment and destruction of property by security personnel among other issues.
To kick start its probe, the committee invited Makerere University Guild leaders led by Kateregga to share their grievances and suggest how best to resolve the impasse and end the unrest.
Kateregga told MPs that the student’s strike at Makerere University that started on October 22 is not yet over and that it will continue until the policy is recalled and reviewed.
He explained that private students want the policy implemented for only those who joined in the August 2019 intake because the 15 percent tuition increment was factored in during the processing and appropriation of the 2019/2020 financial year budget of the university.
The Committee Chairperson, Jacob Opolot asked Kateregga whether his submission implies that only the current first year students will have pay according to the policy.
Kateregga noted that instead of implementing the policy, the university should lobby for increased funding and appropriation so as to reduce its reliance on fees from private students.
Opolot, who is also the Pallisa County MP, castigated student leaders for not pushing enough to secure student’s interests.
He says the biggest challenge is that student leaders agree to decisions on tuition but later on deny them during implementation in order to appease their voters.
Opolot noted that students were betrayed by seven guild leaders including the then Guild President, Papa Salim Were who endorsed the controversial policy last year.
He urged the guild to also review how its members operate and interact with management and Council.
Kateregga explained that negotiations with the University Council are marred with threats and intimidation from some Council members.
Opolot asked Kateregga and the other Guild leaders on what they exactly want Parliament to do to resolve the impasse.
Kateregga said that the most important action would be for parliament to appropriate additional funds to the University.
The University has been allocated over Shillings 316 billion in the 2019/2020 financial year including Shillings 1.5 billion earmarked for rehabilitating toilets in Lumumba, Nkrumah, Mary Stuart, Complex and Africa Halls of Residence.
Marion Kirabo, the Makerere University Guild Minister for Gender, Ethics and Integrity agreed with Kateregga on increased funding. However, she says management must account for funds because students are dissatisfied with service delivery at the institution including hygiene and sanitation.
The committee expects to hold a joint meeting with Guild leaders, management, University Council and officials from the Ministries of Education, Internal Affairs and Defense and Veteran affairs over the unrest.