By Mesharch W. Katusiimeh
At Ankole western university-Sheema—-
Friends, I am back at Ankole Western University. I was in a busy International Conference at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Kenya with fellow academics. I received many phone calls and messages in my inbox about my views about the proposed arrangement of Makerere University renting the Mothers Union buildings at Katungu. I am glad the proposal was widely debated indicating public interest in the matter. I could not get time to respond despite all the provocations of why the management of AWU was silent on the matters raised. As you know the Vice Chancellor is the Chief Public Relations of the University and i knew at some point when time allows I would respond.
Let me first summarize the views from the debates in the different social media fora – those for and against West Ankole Diocese renting Katungu buildings to Makerere University before I conclude with my personal view.
Those in for Makerere University renting Katungu buildings presented the following merits: generating income for the diocese because Makerere University is able to pay the best rates; starting teacher training programs that the region badly needs; Makerere University income will help the diocese financially support AWU; Makerere University will help JUBILEE SACCO grow to greater heights with all the benefits to come with it and that universities compete and competition will help Ankole Western University grow.
The demerits included: Makerere University will affect the development of Ankole Western University – the diocesean university; there are legal issues to contend with including flouting procurement procedures; timing as this would distract the marketing strategies of AWU in that the coming in of another university will confuse local people of which university the diocese sponsors; disunity in the diocese and the secession tendencies would emerge since the past disagreements in the diocese during Bishop Emeritus Katoneene resulted over almost the same issues.
Other observations that are critical in the debate are:
1. A visitation committee comprised of 9 people visited West Ankole Diocese.
2. There is no MOU yet signed between West Ankole Diocese and Makerere University.
3. What is probably to be signed is the tenancy agreement not an MOU per say.
4. The West Ankole Diocesean elders okeyed the move and most importantly the diocesean synod that sat on 23rd March 2018 passed the move to have Makerere University rent the diocesean buildings.
It was interesting to read the comments. I welcome Makerere University – my alma matter. Just like most of us, I was educated at Makerere University up to Masters level (Masters in Public Administration and Management). Makerere University also gave me an opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. I secured my PhD scholarship through Makerere University Faculty of Social Sciences that enabled me to study at Wageningen University the Netherlands where I graduated with a PhD in Urban Governance. Before being appointed Vice Chancellor I served at Makerere University Business School a constituent college of Makerere University at a senior level. I am proud to be associated with Makerere University and let me assure the general public that we are ready to work with Makerere University to build and enable the future.
My concern, however, is why Makerere University is interested in setting up diploma and degree teacher training programs at Katungu that KIU, BSU, Valley University of Science and Technology and above all Ankole Western University already offer. For those who may not know. Universities do not compete. They collaborate. Universities are not secondary schools. Makerere University is the biggest university in East Africa. It has nurtured all other universities in the region. At Ankole Western University we are collaborating with Makerere University already. Dr. Kansiime Micheal (who contested to be head of laity but unfortunately lost) and Mr. Goddie Muhumuza are aware of the help they have rendered to AWU on the AFRISA and the private sector foundation projects respectively. AWU is in the final stages of being granted an 800 million grant from the private sector foundation for Intensive Bivoltine Sericulture Training by Private Sector – Skills Development Facility. Ankole Western University also signed a memorandum of understanding with Africa Institute for Strategic Services and Development (AFRISA) Makerere University for establishing and promoting a formative training and educational modal that promotes the transfer partnership for superior skills, innovation and technology for Agriculture and animal production, value addition and business development in communities. This will include: youths, women and other clients to create skilled commercial agricultural and livestock producers, processors and entrepreneurs among the diverse resource value chains.
I am saying all this because I know Makerere University strategic interests are not about competition with other universities but rather nurturing and mentoring them in teaching, research and community service aspects. Infact the The 2016 Visitation Committee report recommended turning Makerere University into mainly a graduate institution but also focusing on Science courses at undergraduate level.
Therefore, this discussion should shift from the incomes to be generated from Makerere University hiring Katungu buildings to the added value that Makerere University will bring to western Uganda generally. In my own view, we will benefit more if Katungu buildings are used for Masters and PhD programs as well as science programs that our universities locally are not promoting due to capacity issues. Most of our lecturers are spending a lot of time travelling to Makerere University for PhD and some for Masters programs. It will be cheaper for most of our universities based in western Uganda to benefit from staff development that Makerere University may offer rather than undergraduate programs that are being delivered by all other universities (about 10) of them in western Uganda.
The focus should therefore shift from West Ankole Diocese allowing Makerere University to occupy Katungu buildings as a tenant. West Ankole Diocese has all the rights to use their buildings for any purpose. The debate should be on what will Makerere University as a public institution offer. Public institutions owe accountability to people as they are funded through public money. This accountability is realized through legislature and its committees, ministers, audit institutions and other specialised agencies. Makerere University is a public university and public resources (whether it is a grant or privately generated) have to be used in a manner that contributes to national development and satisfies the interests of the public. The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations should have a say in what added value Makerere University will offer for them to commit public resources elsewhere.
On behalf of management of Ankole Western University, we would like to assure all stakeholders of the University including the foundation body and government that we are prepared to make a meaningful contribution towards social transformation of Uganda and Africa as a whole. Our Vision is to be the leading community oriented centre of learning and research. Our mission is to produce through learning and research God fearing, hardworking, disciplined and compassionate graduates of integrity, accountable to the community. We believe in a United West Ankole Diocese and we will contribute to achieving the vision of our Bishop and Chancellor – a model diocese that we will all be proud of. Whoever is interested in joining me talk to Makerere University about these issues is welcome.
Light of the World, For God and My Country
Dr. Mesharch W. Katusiimeh – Vice Chancellor Ankole Western University
West Ankole Diocese