Minister Alupo speaks out on Makerere VC search
Education and Sports minister, Maj. Jessica Alupo has spoken out on the on-going process to search for a substantive Vice Chancellor of Makerere University indicating that she might intervene if the process is flawed.
“Makerere is governed by the University and other Tertiary Institutions Act and it set guidelines for the search of the Vice Chancellor. If there were any guidelines breached, the Act gives the minister powers to guide them, so that all candidates feel fairly treated,” Alupo stated.
Alupo made the statement before the Education and Sports committee of Parliament where she appeared with her deputies; Dr JC Muyingo (Higher Education) and Charles Bakkabulindi (Sports). The committee chaired by Sylivia Namabidde (NRM) was scrutinizing the ministry’s budget and probing into critical matters related to the sector.
Nine Professors applied for the post of Vice Chancellor. They were; Acting VC Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, Augustus Nuwagaba, Eli Rwakishaya-Katunguka, Edward Kirumira, Ssentamu Dumba, Barnabas Nawangwe, Tony Oyana, Elisam Magara and Prof. Bizimenyera.
The search committee that was headed by the reputable Stephen Maloba scrutinised their credentials and shortlisted seven for interviews. They were; Baryamureeba, Nuwagaba, Katunguka, Kirumira, Dumba-Ssentamu and Barnabas Nawangwe. Of the above, the committee dropped Nuwagaba and Oyana and recommended only five to the University Senate.
The close to 80-member Senate, comprised of university’s top administrators and brains on Thursday last week recommended Nawangwe, Kirumira and Dumba-Ssentamu to the university’s top organ, the University Council, as persons from whom to pick the Vice Chancellor. Its decision was expected last evening.
However, when he was dropped, Baryamureeba appealed to the Senate and Council; to quash the voting process claiming it was marred with irregularities. Alupo told MPs that although she had not received Barya’s appeal officially, she will study it when it comes.
The minister, while in Parliament, observed that the background to the search process was the bickering and threats of litigation (that Barya was acting as VC illegally) that threatened the image of Makerere a premier education institution in the region. “We thought the right way was to amend the Act, (to have the VC appointed and not elected as the process stands). But the committee had a different view.”
“We thought of Plan B… and wrote to the Solicitor General. He told us to use the existing law to get a substantive Vice Chancellor. We wrote to Makerere to start the search. We had got reports that each stage was going well. There are appeals which we have not got officially,” Alupo explained.
Meanwhile, MPs have asked Alupo to act like a parent to the ministry so that education institutions don’t lose their land and property as she looks on. The latest institution whose land is under threat is Kyambogo University for which President Yoweri Museveni has written directing that a piece is given to an investor, Megha Industries for expansion.
KYU while appeared before the committee earlier listed the threat of land grabbing as one of the challenges its facing. In defense, Alupo said the President letter to the university was parental. “When I read the letter I appreciated the parental concern of the President; that much as we need these education institutions, we need industries to give these students jobs,” Alupo responded.
However MP Joseph Ssewungo cautioned that the ministers of Education were better off informing the President of their view, preferably in writing, so that it’s on record that they used the Constitutional mandate and advised.
The MPs pointed out that the schools like Buganda Road, Bat Valley and Kitante Primary School, that have been able to protect their land fought on their own rather than the ministry defending them. He said that how Shimoni demonstration school land was given away to an investor and East Kololo primary school was taken by a politician.
By Henry Mukasa, The New Vision
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