Saturday, April 3, 2010

Makerere Exploiting the poor

Minister Namirembe Bitamazire
New Vision Publication date: Thursday, 18th August, 2005
SIR — Makerere University Private Students' Parents’ Association (MUPRISPA) has learnt with profound shock Government’s decision to increase tuition fees by sh215,000 per semester per student irrespective of the course offered. MUPRISPA made a submission to the parliamentary sub-committee put in place to review the proposed increase of tuition at Makerere and are convinced that the reasons against the increase were credible.
We find it extremely hard to believe that the Ministry of Education could endorse such an increment moreover by a flat rate for all courses! It is true Makerere has financial constraints but the administration on realising that Government has no additional funding for the students it sponsors, ended up exploiting the situation in which the unfortunate private students find themselves. We see this continued subsidising of Government-sponsored students by private students not only morally wrong, but also open injustice. Staff remuneration and maintenance of the Information and Communication technology are some of the reasons given for the increase! If these services benefit both Government and private students, why is the burden left on the shoulders of the private students only? In a letter dated July 15, 2002 to the Minister of Education and Sports, MUPRISPA requested for an amendment of the Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001 to accommodate the role of parents who sponsor over 80% of the students. however, as I write we have not received any communication from the ministry on the matter. Much as they like to milk all the possible and impossible cash from the parents, they shy away from constructive dialogue. So, the parents are left at the receiving end of whatever decisions made, however irrational or punitive! Earlier on, the University Council Chairman in justifying increases in tuition fees, is reported to have said that even some secondary schools demand higher fees than is paid for some university courses. Yes, a parent in many of these schools pays not only for attending class as is the case at Makerere, but also for accommodation and meals, not forgetting that these students have no transport costs as they reside at school. He also compared the incomparable, tuition paid at other universities! Once we are a poor country, we must cut our coat according to our cloth. It is on record that MUPRISA proposed to Makerere to lease out land to private developers from whom they would rent space, which is a cheaper option. however, as I write it is not clear how far they have gone.
The Government says that it “appreciates that most Ugandans might not afford the tuition fees but needs adequate funding to maintain standards and quality”. This does not exonerate the state of its social responsibility of funding the infrastructure developments and the staff welfare. Instead, it is implementing a punitive policy on private students but maintaining “credit” for the Government-sponsorship scheme, which it is now leaving to poor parents to sustain!

Willy Kituuka
Chairman, MUPRISPA

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