Makerere University has for over a week been at the centre of discussions across the country. The key issues at play include the increment of tuition fees by 15 percent and the involvement of the military in controlling the students’ demonstration against the fees increment.
Let us look at the money first: Makerere University is identified as a “Public University” and therefore, it should be a place for students to receive education paid for by the tax payers. If the parents or students have to directly contribute, the fees should ideally be minimal. What we seem to be seeing now at Makerere is the administration’s thirst to draw money directly from students or parents as opposed to negotiating with the government for improved financing.
The quality of a nation is actually the quality of its human resource. If a country does not sufficiently invest in the quality of its human resource (which involves education) its growth and development targets cannot be achieved. This is the message the Makerere University should be giving the government instead of competing with private universities to charge fees from a largely low-income population.
The involvement of the military: The militaristic approach to silence any discounted group seems to be deeply entrenched among the people who lead Uganda’s security agencies. There is need for a sensitization campaign, or trainings, for security leaders to try diffuse the “culture of guns”.
Students, journalists and poor citizens especially in urban areas have been among the victims of high handedness of Uganda’s security agencies. Uganda is not at war with anyone but Ugandans are at war with themselves. Those who hold guns think it is their right to treat non-gun holders any way they wish. We need to treat each other with dignity.