23 April 2018

Uganda: Mastercard Speaks Out On Mak Bursary Freeze

Photo: Alex Esagala/Daily Monitor
Makerere University students march during the strike.

The MasterCard Foundation has confirmed suspension of the scholars' programme for 2018/2019 over what it says are concerns over internal processes Makerere University must address immediately.

"The MasterCard Foundation has requested that Makerere University suspends the 2018/19 school year recruitment of scholars into the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme. The Foundation is concerned about internal processes that need to be addressed at the university," the e-mail response reads in part.

The Foundation says only the current scholars will continue to benefit from the programme while no clear indication has been given on whether new students will be admitted under the programme again.

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"The Foundation will continue to support all current MasterCard Foundation Scholars at Makerere University with the comprehensive package and leadership development offered by our programme," the e-mail adds.

The confirmation comes after Daily Monitor broke the news of how the sex-for-marks scandal has stained the reputation of Makerere University, forcing the Foundation to act. One of the complainants involved a female beneficiary of the programme.

Our sources said the foundation had written to the university, raising concerns over the sex scandal and demanded a status update and steps taken to address the problem, a development, which the university spokesperson, Ms Rita Namisango, confirmed.

Ms Namisango, however, said the letter had nothing to do with the suspension of the advert calling for new applications. Attempts to get clarifications on how far the university has gone with addressing the concerns raised by MasterCard Foundation were unsuccessful by press time.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, referred Daily Monitor to the scholarship coordinator, Dr Florence Nakayiwa, whose known phone contact was inaccessible by the time of filing the story.

But Prof Nawangwe blamed Daily Monitor for publishing a story, which he said, had caused a lot of problems to the university.

"Can you please talk to the person who coordinates the programme? You people write stories without cross-checking and you have caused us a lot of unnecessary problems," he said.

On her part, Ms Namisango stuck to her old line that the suspension was triggered by an agreement to carry out compulsory review before admitting the next group.

Makerere University responds

The Mastercard Scholars Programme at Makerere has not been suspended.

During the vice chancellor's interaction with the media on April 18, he responded as follows: The Mastercard Scholars Programme at Makerere University has not been suspended. It is the advert for prospective applicants for the academic year (2018/2019) that was suspended until further notice. The current 500 continuing students supported under the MasterCard Foundation will not be affected. The scholars are continuing with their studies and will be supported until completion of their respective degree programmes.

In the agreement between Makerere and MasterCard Foundation, it was agreed that both parties would conduct a mid-term review when the number of scholars reaches 500.

Currently, 500 Scholars are enrolled, which then necessitated a mid-term review before the advert for the next intake is published. There was an oversight and the advert was published in Daily Monitor before the review. This raised a concern and led to the suspension of the advert until further notice.

So, on the completion of the mid-term review, which is being undertaken, both parties will agree on the way forward with respect to running the advert for the prospective applicants for the Academic Year 2018/2019 .

Rita Namisango, Senior

Public Relations Officer, Makerere University

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