19 December 2012

Uganda: Govt Seeks Sh260 Billion to Promote Science

Over 40,000 students doing science and technology courses in public universities and other institutions of higher learning are to benefit from an African Development Bank (ADB) $103m (sh267b) loan.

According to ADB and the Government, the funds will be spent to expand equitable access to science, technology, training and research, on top of improving capacity of universities and institutions and paying fees for students.

Some of the funds will be used on infrastructural development, training of staff and creating inter-university linkages.

When contacted yesterday, the education ministry's permanent secretary, Francis-Xavier Lubanga, said the ADB board had approved the loan, but the Government had not yet signed it.

"But we hope that all will be fine and the fund will soon be accessible by the universities," Lubanga said.

By procedure, a presentation has to be made to Cabinet, before a committee of Parliament approves the loan and the Solicitor General clears it.

It is after the Solicitor General's clearance that the Minister of Finance signs the agreement, on behalf of the Government.

The benefiting universities include Makerere, Kyambogo, Gulu, Busitema, Mbarara and Muni.

The other two institutions are MUBS and Uganda Management Institute.

Uganda's competitiveness in science, technology and innovation (STI) is among the weakest in the East African region. The problem stems from the weaknesses in training of STI capacity.

Normally, enrollment in STI programmes is below 30% of the total enrolment in higher education, against the estimated minimum of 40% so as to have an impact on development.

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