After two months under key and lock, Makerere, Uganda’s oldest and largest university, opened last week to students and staff looking to close down the first semester.
A strike by academic staff led to a student riot that prompted the president to close the institution on November 1, interrupting the first semester. However, after the lecturers agreed to return to work, the university opened on January 2.
The Observer visited the university campus last week to find that there was no teaching, although many of the lecturers and students had turned up to continue from where they left off.
Vice chancellor Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu attributed the slow resumption of work to a mistake in scheduling both the reporting and resumption of lectures on the same day.
“We made a mistake [by] requiring students to report on the same day lectures were supposed to start,” Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu said.
University guild president Roy Ssembogga agreed with the vice chancellor.
“You cannot expect students to come on Monday and immediately go to class. That is not possible but I’m hopeful that students will turn up and continue with their studies that were violently and illegally interrupted,” Ssembogga said.
However, that is the least of their worries. The vice chancellor has already put all students on notice to clear their fees by the 12th week of the semester, which falls on January16. In a statement published on Monday, Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu warned that those failing to pay by that date should forget about doing end-of-semester exams, which kick off in the first week of February.
“We have given them enough time, we expect them to pay by the 16th of January; if they don’t pay, they don’t do exams, as simple as that,” Ddumba-Ssentamu told The Observer.
He asked students and the lecturers to desist from strikes which he said are not beneficial at all.
“I appeal to the students to come back and study to catch up with the time that we wasted. And I’m hoping that they will abide by the regulations. This thing of strikes at Makerere University should be of the past,” Ddumba-Ssentamu added.
“Every stakeholder should help us to see that no more strikes ever happen at Makerere again. It is embarrassing to have strikes every time at the university. I think if we work as a team, the government and council, things will work out; strikes are not beneficial at all.”
For the matter, lecturers have warned their students that the remaining time of the semester is expected to be hectic as they try to cover the rest of the required work.
“While I do not want to spoil your festive mood, it is also my responsibility to inform you that we shall have a very busy January as you most likely saw from the VC’s communication,” wrote Dr William Tayeebwa, head of the Journalism and Communication department.
The normal examinations season will start on January 30, 2017, all the way to February 19. For continuing students, there will be a one-week break from February 20 to February 26. Within that same week, the university will also hold its 67th graduation, starting February 21 for four days.