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Professor Balunywa calls for dialogue on reopening universities

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Principal Waswa Balunywa wants the government to allow universities come up with their strategy on how to implement the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Ministry of Health so that universities can resume their operations.

In March, President Yoweri Museveni directed the closure of all institutions of learning following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Balunywa noted that universities have several proposals for the Ministry of Education which can be used to open universities but unfortunately the government has never consulted them.

Balunywa together with other university officials had appeared before the committee chaired by Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi to respond to audit queries raised in the financial year 2018/2019 Auditor General’s report.

He told MPs that as universities, they already have many infrastructures in place which can be used to enable students to conduct their studies while following the SOPs issued by the Ministry of Health.

Balunywa said that their students pursuing Masters Degrees and some disciplines have been having online studies from different parts of the country and that this is so far working perfectly.

Balunywa also wants the government to assist them with the huge costs demanded by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) to accredit new campuses saying that these are deterring universities from extending education to other parts of the country.

This follows a query from the Auditor General about the University setting up campuses that are yet to be accredited and confirmed by NCHE.

Balunywa told the committee that they had 3 campuses in Arua, Jinja and Mbale that required confirmation by the council but the NCHE inspection charged them 100 million Shillings. He cited a need to support institutions to give education by subsidizing the cost of starting up campuses which is currently costly.

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