20 April 2018

Uganda: Nursing Students Strike Over Poor Meals, Registration Fees

Masaka — Nursing students at Masaka School of Comprehensive Nursing have started a strike to protest poor quality meals and excessive examination registration fees.

The students started their strike on Thursday by rejecting meals saying the quality is wanting.

They also boycotted attending lectures until their grievances are addressed by management.

The students camped in the school compound, forcing some staff members to flee for fear of being attacked by the striking students.

The students claim that they are fed on poor quality posho and weevil -infested beans yet they pay "a lot of money for meals."

The Guild Speaker, Mr Stephen Katabazi said they have for long endured poor sanitation at the school, pathetic meals, pitiable security, tutors who dodge lessons and the failure by the school administrators to install internet at the institution.

He said the situation was exacerbated by the ultimatum that was issued by the administration on Tuesday, asking students to pay registration fees to the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board (UNMEB) before writing the national examinations.

Mr Katabazi said that UNMEB sent a circular to the school on April,5 2018 asking each student to pay Shs120,000 but the administration failed to inform the students until Tuesday this week, yet the deadline is (today) Friday .

The students say, they come from poor families which cannot raise the required Shs120, 000 in two days.

Ms Joweria Nakirigya, the guild secretary, said students pay various fees which are not accounted for making training at the Masaka School very expensive compared to other nursing schools in the country.

According to Ms Nakirigya, students pay development, examination, utility, and Uganda Nurses Students Association, curriculum and field activities fees among others, which are not accounted for.

She said that they have raised their concerns with relevant authorities in the school and the district including the office of the Resident District Commissioner and the Masaka Hospital director, but nothing has been done.

Ms Nakirigya said they have suspended their services in the wards at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital until their grievances are addressed.

The school principal, Mr Mark Kalanzi said the deadline for the clearance of exam fees was set by UNMEB .

"The issue of exam fees is not an in-house issue. We are simply responding to the demands of UNMEB. If we tell them [students] to delay payment, the board will still need the money to conduct the exams ," he said. "Those who have challenges of clearing the fees, let them come as individuals and we attend to them."

On the issue of meals, Mr Kalanzi said he was surprised that students have rejected the food.

"I know that my students have a good menu much as our main staple food is posho and beans. We give them first class posho and it is the same food eaten by our staff members," he said.

He said every Sunday, the students are served matooke with beef and on Wednesday, they are given rice and beef.

However, Masaka Resident District Commissioner, Mr Joy Walusimbi who visited the school, asked the students to stay calm, saying he had asked the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education to intervene and extend the examination registration deadline.

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