By Leonard Twinomugisha
Makerere’s Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe briefed the media on March 16th tackling several issues concerning the University but contentiously, the ban of the evening lectures came as sad news to me.
Having been a student of Makerere University under the Department of Journalism and communication from 2011 to 2015, I was privileged to be a beneficiary of the evening program which is now under attack. On several occasions, some lecturers came to class complaining of delayed remuneration while others were very kind to accept that it was an additional income for them but that’s not the point today.
What does it mean for the University to raise that ban on the evening program? Every year, Makerere University admits thousands and the number has always been increasing over time. This includes both the evening and day students who alternatively use the facilities at the University.
With the ban on the evening program, the university is going to be overwhelmed with a large number of students which will mean competition for facilities. Let’s do simple maths; according to a Makerere University survey of 2013, Lecturer to student ratio was 1:28, Book to students was 1:17, computer to students was 1:7, Library sit to students was 1:7 and of course many other ratios which will all indicate limited facilities.
These facilities have not been enough even during the existence of the two programs (Day and Evening) and they were utilized alternatively in a manner that when evening students are in class, most day students are in the library and vice versa. The completion fro the Central Teaching Facilities 1 and 2, as well as all spaces that used to serve as dining facilities in the Halls of Residence as the Vice Chancellor said in his media briefing will not be enough.
Trying to justify the ban on the Evening program, Prof. Nawangwe said that Makerere’s strategic plan of 2020 to 2030 is to be a research led University and asserts that reducing intake of undergraduates and increase of masters and graduate entrants is one of the ways to achieve this. I partially agree with that but most post-graduate and masters students are more favored to pursue courses on the evening program.
If the major cause to scrap off this program is the decline by government to give salary enhancement incentive to Makerere University since 1st July 2016, like the Vice Chancellor said, it is time the University Council engages the government again before they deny most citizens a chance to higher education and deny development to the country.
Besides, how do private universities generate revenue to run their programs concurrently? Do they have salary enhancement incentives from government, I need to be educated. If all fails, make the evening program totally a private program (which it has been). Generate money to remunerate lecturers and to facilitate the evening program from the students who are interested in it instead of scraping off this beautiful convenient program for post graduate and working students. Find alternative means of ensuring the program keeps running. It is possible.
The writer is an alumnus of Makerere University from Department of Journalism and communication