COMMENT: Morris Komakech
By closing the university, the government is deliberately devaluing it and pushing students to private universities
My nieces and nephews are agitatedly seated at home waiting for Makerere University to re-open. I had earlier advised them against enrolling in Makerere University for obvious reasons – the rampant breakdown of order in MUK disrupts academic progress. Now, and under this dispensation, it is untenable to trust public institutions. Parents and students should focus on acquiring education in stable private universities if they can afford.
I have had to explain to my nieces and nephews that the problem of Makerere University is the problem of how this economy is organised, and how it relates with labour. In a capitalist market, labour is what attracts income in monetary terms, and market related benefits and privileges. The public servants in this country serve at a disadvantage beyond their own means because of the way the economy is organised.
One, the government is on retreat from providing social services and as such, it expects that the private sector assume these roles. Unfortunately, our economy is inelastic. It is not expanding in proportion with government’s retraction rate. This means there is deficit in services to the public. Unemployment and lack of healthcare services can attest to this.
Secondly, academicians are a sophisticated group of workers. Their labour is intellectual labour, which sells at a high price than menial labour. However, in Uganda’s case, their output is not matching their input. There are hardly novel intellectual products emerging out of Uganda to spur the economy. Even the volumes of research and publication seek to support the state investment in this class of workers.
Third, by closing MUK, government is devaluing the institution to elicit a hemorrhage of students to private universities.
No parent would wish to associate with a University that closes frequently, has to strike to resolve simple administrative problems, or someone must undress to be heard.
No. The market is a competitive place where such pattern of commotion reinforces the hidden hands in shaping and regulating Makerere out of the marketplace.
Unlike MUK, situated in the heart of the city, you will never hear that Mbarara University has closed and you can ask yourself the “why” question.
The advantage of closing MUK is a cost cutting strategy for the state given the bad form in which our economy finds itself post the 2016 February botched elections. Donors are tightening their cash taps, and the foreign debts have escalated. By shutting down MUK, the government can save money and invest it in critical areas to stabilise the faltering economy. At this point, it is rather safer to rescue a bank than a non-productive MUK.