Friday, March 13, 2015

Makerere Turns into Battlefield as Strike Enters Day 3

The Makerere University strike has entered day three with violence hitting boiling levels and students turning the campus into a battlefield with armed security forces.
It all started early this week with students protesting the administration’s policy of paying 100 percent of the tuition within the first 6 weeks of each new semester.
Students took to the streets, compelling the administration of Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu to extend by two weeks, the deadline for all students to have completed their fees payment as per the new policy.
However, Makerere Guild President Ivan Bwowe says, “we are not satisfied with what the university council decided to postpone the deadline but scrap off the new policy in its entirety.”

He says students come from poor parents who can only afford to pay the tuition fees in installments.
At Makerere, Kenneth Kazibwe reports that students tried to access the main gate on their way to Parliament but police used teargas to disperse them.
“They are now gathered at the Main Building pondering on the next move.” says Kazibwe.
He further says the number of protesting students is double that of yesterday.
The students who are much more organized stormed the Freedom Square as early as 9:00am before moving all over the campus mobilising numbers for today’s action.
Jacinto Okello, a student in Ethics and Human Rights, tells ChimpReports, “We don’t want the talk about deadline extension; we want this policy scrapped off.”
She added: “This is a public institution and is supposed to cater for students of the peasants but it seems it’s turning into an individual’s project who decides on what to be done without consultation.
“Unless the university council denounces the new policy, we won’t allow such to be applied here considering most of us are private students who come from families that can’t afford to pay such a huge amounts of tuition money, over just six weeks.”
Mike Okua, a student at the facility, says “That is not practical since some of us come from poor families and we can’t raise the tuition in such a small period of time. It’s high time the university revised the policy or else most of us will have to drop out for failure to adhere to the new policy.”
Officials say the policy is meant to ensure students and their sponsors pay in time in order for them to run the university activities.
Police maintains a heavy deployment at Makerere to maintain law and order.
The strike has since exposed Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu’s administration as incapable of properly managing the oldest tertiary institution in Uganda.
Just recently, it emerged that students were bribing administrators for good marks to allow them attain Bachelor’s degrees.
Students have also been complaining on the delay to release results for exams.
Toilets for lecturers and students remain in deplorable conditions, threatening lives of thousands of users.
The internet at the campus is also slow, slowing down research work.
Ddumba was last year forced to revise a policy that sought to raise graduation fees from Shs 90,000 to Shs 220,000 after a students’ strike.
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