9 December 2012

Uganda: Mulago Nursing School Deep in Debt

Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery has gone without electricity in the boys' and girls' hostel for six months now.

The electricity was cut over arrears amounting to Shs 210m. The school principal, Margaret Kidega, who took office in May this year, says she found unpaid electricity bills dating back three years and this has affected work at the school.

The school's administration and classroom block are Shs 30m in arrears. "We have improvised for the power blackout in the students' hostels with a generator, which only runs for four hours and is switched off at midnight," Kidega said.

Kidega was speaking during a graduation ceremony at which 205 students received diplomas in comprehensive nursing and midwifery. She added that although she had written severally to the ministry of Education about the problem, there is minimal effective feedback. The recent budget cuts by the ministry of Education haven't helped.

Quarterly grants to the school have been reduced from Shs 123m to Shs 85m, this year, yet it has 400 students to take care of, with only 20 of these on the private scheme. The private students pay between Shs 300,000 and Shs 350,000 per semester.

"I kindly request our stakeholders, especially government, to act fast so that our students may have power in their hostels," Kidega appealed.

Meanwhile, the school has only 11 tutors and clinical instructors, which is why it has resorted to using part-timers who are paid off the governing council payroll. However, those on the payroll have not been paid for two months. Still Kidega says there is a deficit of 10 tutors and in future, as the institute admits more students, 30 more tutors will be required.

The school is also grappling with two 20-people capacity laboratories that have been in use since 1955. The director for tertiary education, Elizabeth Gabona, who represented the minister, pledged to provide more support the school.

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