Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University has suspended its decision to send out students on internship, field attachment and recess during the lock down. The development comes a few days to the roll out of the program.
Last month, Makerere University senate took a bold decision and secured clearance from the Education and Sports Ministry to commence the ‘Virtual Internship’ program. The university suggested that students carry out internship using collaborative tools to remotely work with their hosts or design projects per deliverables approved by their supervisors.
Other options included participating in university staff-led projects to undertake activities with clear deliverables approved by the college internship committee while other could form small work groups to do work-based assignments.
However, in an email sent out to staff, Professor Umar Kakumba, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in-charge of Academic Affairs at Makerere University, says they have been receiving concerns from sections of the public politicizing the issue, which prompted them to halt it pending further consultations.
“Whereas Senate, in the wake of COVID-19, had approved modalities for implementing Internship/ Field Attachment and Recess, with flexibility to allow students to carry out field projects remotely, while observing SOPs and utilizing available online and offline mechanisms; and whereas the Colleges were in advanced stages of starting Internship we are increasingly getting concerns, from some sections of the public politicizing the issue Internships,” the statement reads in part.
As the deputy Vice Chancellor put it, a section of students had questioned the rationale of carrying out internship during the lockdown. They argued that given the fact that some employers have been downsizing their work force makes it hard for them to accommodate interns.
Marion Kirabo, a fourth-year law student and Gender, Ethics, and Integrity Guild Minister is happy with the suspension of decision noting that forcing them to conduct internship at such a time was unrealistic since they are already constrained financially.
However, some students who had already prepared themselves carry to go on internship, say the university shouldn’t have suspended the program. Isaac Mugerwa notes that some of the students are redundant and the program could have helped to keep them busy.
“It was already a flexible Programme. So those who are willing to go on with the program should be left and those who feel it isn’t possible should wait until they feel comfortable,” said Mugerwa