A peaceful demonstration staged at Makerere University on 14th July 2014 has finally yielded to something. MUK Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba Sentamu has agreed to have meals reinstated in all halls of residence.
Students under Government sponsorship were to be given a meager 4000 shillings daily to cater for meals, while private sponsored students had to find their own means of nourishment.
After an outcry from Makerere University students concerning their predicament to start this academic year 2014/2015, the students Guild led by President Bwowe Ivan, carried out a mobilization campaign to try and fight for the rights of students. “Bwowe has not disappointed our expectations,” a student was heard remarking.
Using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp etc, Mr. Bwowe spread the idea of a peaceful strike to the entire MUK community.
Initially, this demonstration was meant to force the Vice Chancellor to resign his position since students were dissatisfied with his administration style but with what has so far been achieved, Bwowe’s team has been pushed into negotiations with the former as they lobby for students’ interests.
However, there still are other issues that also culminated into this collective action. Most significant of these is the 10% increment in tuition fees to take effect next academic year starting with year one students, commonly referred to as freshers.
Students claim that since the inception of Prof. Ddumba’s Vice Chancellorship, the tuition policy has been unfair to them. First of all, the policies are usually unreasonable and are also passed without sufficient consultation with the students’ body.
Earlier in 2013, Prof. Ddumba introduced the 60% tuition policy where all privately sponsored students are supposed to pay 60% of their tuition in the first 6 weeks of the semester and failure to comply would lead to some missing exams. Such policy was seen as very unrealistic considering the fact that many parents, guardians, and even self-sponsored students could not easily adjust to this.
The strike was also partly attributed to the fact that supervisors have failed to supervise their students since the start of the internship period. It is the University administration’s mandate to ensure that students on field attachment are supervised on time.
Despite the tension and anxiety, there is certainly a ray of hope. Speaking about the 10% tuition policy, Prof. Ddumba advised the responsible parties to forward a formal complaint in writing. This implies that there is a ray of hope if all goes well.
Not over yet
How ever, according to Mr. Bwowe, the war is not over yet. “It was a success and I appreciate whoever joined the full force yesterday,” he is quoted on his official Facebook page after the strike. “However this isn’t the end. We’ve got more issues to fix,” he added.
The determination exhibited by the student leaders will certainly not go in vain since the Police is also behind them “Students are free to demonstrate after seeking permission from the police,” remarked a Police spokesperson who was present at the demonstration.