10 January 2013

Uganda: Muk Students Strike Over Graduation Exclusion

Makerere — Hundreds of Makerere University students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) on Wednesday protested being left out from this year's graduation list.

The grumbling students hoisted posters carrying strong messages during the three-hour strike.

Some of the messages read: 'Degrees and graduation are our right', 'Because of your ignorance we are not going to graduate, how fair is this?'

The students accused the institution of deliberately barring them from the five-day graduation set to start Monday 21 - just under a fortnight away.

The unhappy students say they cleared all dues and passed all subjects from the first to the final year as required, but their names are missing from the list.

They stormed the CHUSS headquarters, demanding the authorities to explain why their names were not on the graduation list displayed by the college. They vowing to pitch camp at the college until their grievance is resolved.

"We have played our role as students, now the university is trying to stop us from graduating without clear reasons," insisted Benard Tukwasibwe, the leader of the group.

Tukwasibwe castigated an official in the office of the college registrar he identified as Gordon Mulangira for having delayed to submit the names of graduands to the Academic Registrar (AR), Naomah Masikye, in time for inclusion on the list.

'Over 1000 could be excluded'

The deputy principle of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira referred the irate students to the AR and Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Ddumba Ssentamu, saying he tried to submit the names of all students wrongly ousted from the list to the former but in vain.

"I have already worked on the students with genuine concerns but I can't submit the list to the AR since he has closed the system.

"The students can only be helped by the Vice Chancellor and Academic Registrar who has the power to reopen the system," reiterated Prof. Kirumira.

He however noted that some of the students were excluded from the list genuinely over retakes, missing marks and unpaid arrears owed to the university.

He could not make a mention of the total number of students excluded from the list by press time but noted that it could be in hundreds.

Makerere University police boss ASP John Rutaagira urged the students to seek an amicable solution to their grievance. PHOTO/Innocent Anguyo

Sources at Makerere revealed that over 1000 students across the university could have been excluded from this year's list with over 500 of them from CHUSS.

The angry students marched to the main building [Ivory Tower] chanting the slogan, "We want to graduate", before gathering at the entrance of the building with calls to be briefed by the VC and AR.

At this point, students suffering similar fate from the colleges of Information and Communication Technology, Business and Management Sciences, Technology and Natural Sciences joined the strike.

Nonetheless, the Academic Registrar reportedly told the students through their reps that they would not be graduating this month since he had started printing the graduation book which bears the list of all graduands for the entire university.

Masikye reportedly attributed the exclusions to failure of the CHUSS registrar to submit the names of all those who would graduate in time for addition to the graduation list.

He allegedly promised to only produce transcripts for the students who were not on the list.

Heated affair

An hour later Prof. Ssentamu emerged out of the building to address the furious students who by then, were threatening to cause mayhem if their grievances were not addressed immediately.

The VC called for calm and allayed the fears of the students that they would not graduate. He promised to meet the officials of CHUSS in a bid to resolve the matter.

"Please write down all your grievances and concerns as I meet Gordon and other CHUSS officials to discuss this issue. I will give you a feed back tomorrow (Thursday) at around 9.00," said Prof. Ssentamu.

Last year, over 300 students from CHUSS were also excluded from the graduation list in a similar fashion, sources say.

The students have vowed to continue with the strike if the VC does not meet their demand, threatening to destroy university property.

Makerere University police boss ASP John Rutaagira nevertheless urged the students to seek an amicable solution to their grievance. Police is expected to be on high alert inside the university.

"They need to follow dialogue and wait for the feedback from the university administration. As police, our role is to protect the lives and property of the university," ASP Rutaagira said.

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