Uganda: Makerere to Extend Semester Over Strike

(file photo).
15 February 2019

Parliament — Makerere University management is considering extending the second semester to compensate for time lost during the unresolved standoff with the staff, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, has said.

He announced the development yesterday while appearing before Parliament's Committee on Education and Sports to explain the current impasse between the management and staff who are on strike.

"In the council communiqué two days ago, the issue arose and management was tasked to make sure that students who have lost time should be compensated with time," Prof Nawangwe told the MPs.

He, however, said only those affected by the strike will be looked at.

"There are those who started on the very first day and so there, there is no issue but for those who have lost time, we are going to verify how much time is lost and we recommend to Council that for those, the time lost should be compensated," Prof Nawangwe added.

His submission was prompted by concerns raised by Labwor County MP Michael Ayepa, who asked the university management to explain mitigation measures for the time so far lost due to the lecturers' strike.

Mr Ayepa insisted the university must bear in mind the plight of the students who are privately sponsored and have liberty to seek legal redress should they consider their contract with the university breached. "Once the students pay, they must be taught; assuming that all these students drag the university to court, will you be able to pay them?" asked Mr Ayepa.

There are no proposed dates for the extension but the university management promised to have it decided soon. The University Council chairperson, Ms Lorna Magara, told the committee chaired by Pallisa County MP Jacob Opolot that once management has proposed the dates, then Council will make a decision.

"We await the report of management on how this is going to be done," she said.

"Our appeal is that the staff, those that are not yet working, resume their duties to the university so that the 35,000 students are not affected in any way," Ms Magara added.

She pledged that the University Council will act as a neutral arbiter to end the unrest and that the Appointments Committee has already been tasked to separately interact with the warring parties.

"If we find that management indeed followed due process, the suspensions will stand and if they did not, the suspension shall be obviously overturned," Ms Magara said.

Prof Nawangwe told MPs yesterday that many lecturers had accepted to return to work and that by Wednesday, most of the colleges had resumed full teaching in all departments, with the exception of the School of Law.

The MPs advised the vice chancellor to execute his mandate with regard to the law, including dialogue, instead of using a high-handed approach.

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