Why I did not study from Makerere University

makerere-main-buildingOver the last decade or so, Uganda’s most celebrated institution of higher learning Makerere University has not seen a year that has gone without a strike or two. This has raised several questions on the seriousness of the institution as well as the quality of education being offered at what used to be one of Africa’s best universities.
Deo Tumusime , a communications expert below pens why he chose not to pursue his Bachelors degree at the institution. We reckon that many Ugandans will concur with his train of thought… read on

Kampala, Uganda 2nd Nov 2016
As little children growing up, everyone’s dream was to join Makerere, which was pretty much the only university in Uganda at the time. Folks at Makerere were sometimes booked by employers ahead of graduation, assured of job opportunities. I attended a few graduation ceremonies and they triggered my own aspiration. What would one be studying for if not to cap it at Makerere?
Fast forward, and during my high school, I begin to read not so cool stuff emanating from Makerere University. Strikes over this and that, by students and by lecturers; students learning through classroom windows via loud speakers; sex for marks business, and the huge student crowd itself took me aback. With my performance at Advanced Level, I could have enrolled for any fat course, but the enrollment process itself was quite chaotic.
Against this backdrop, my mind swayed away to the Uganda Christian University (UCU) in Mukono. Here I expected some consistence with my Christian background, and imagined that much of my fears about Makerere would be taken care of. I can comfortably say that my gamble was spot on, and I have never regretted my decision. Of course UCU had its own challenges being in its early years of existence at the time (2001), and I occasionally used my keyboard to make my opinion felt, but as the Banyankore say, “Ebibi nibihitahitana”, meaning that of the bad things in life, one is worse than the other.

Today Makerere University is closed, not for the first or second time, but perhaps being closed by His Excellency the President, makes even more news. Poor feeding, fighting over suspension of students said to have vandalized kitchen utensils; staff not teaching because of no pay; Lecturer in court over raping a student; Lecturers marrying their own students; students looting shops; running battles with police…good Lord, have mercy on your people! What this means in short, is that Makerere is a collapsed institution and the closure should be used as an opportunity to light a torch into all the inconsistencies. It is also an opportune moment to draw new path for the university, including revamping some of the academic courses, which I so believe are part of the reasons for the mass redundancy at the University.

I have also observed in recent years that Ugandan universities have become kind of an extension of high school, with students being taught pretty much the same way and sitting examinations just as it were in the former. This mode of learning is disastrous especially in a situation where student numbers are too high to be even accommodated by the existing structures.
Besides, an institution like Makerere to have students attending class through windows with many not even hearing what the lecturers are teaching, shows that the institution itself is not ‘schooled’. Little wonder we are seeing so much mess.

I have also written before, that while studying in a university and attaining a degree is everyone’s desired end, this is not necessarily for everyone. God did not intend all of us to become graduates or degree holders per se. Yet because education has become so monetized, every Tom, [Dee] and Harry with money can buy their degree whether they deserve it or not. What this does, is that it provides chance to very unworthy characters to enter the university with their bad manners and cause so much trouble, compromising the future of potential professionals that could propel mother Uganda to the next level.

It is useless to have a Million graduates that cannot prove their worth. In fact, a new Makerere should introduce practical skill lessons even for Arts students, not only to avail the learners with chance to develop alternative skills, but to keep them busy. Besides that, students should spend up to 40% of their learning time in the field undertaking research projects, or doing some industrial training to help them appreciate their intended professions more. Such undertakings should not only be limited in country, but even exchange visits abroad would be helpful for comparison purposes. This way, we’ll down size the levels of laxity and even possibly reduce on the amount of teaching hours, which should as well reduce on the university bill on A,B, C or D.

When everything has been done, I also think that the university must establish mechanisms to predict and address issues of contention before they spark so much anger. This is part of the learning process-and in fact, organizations out there should be coming to Makerere to borrow ideas on how to manage crisis, how to develop programmes, how to conduct research, how to make businesses work and so on. But as things stand, employers even fear to recruit anyone flagging a degree from Makerere because it is evident there’s no learning taking place.

It does not require rocket science to find solutions to known problems, problems created by ourselves. Herein I have already provided more than five suggestions. Let those who have ears listen!!!