The Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, yesterday apologised for failure to secure gowns for all the 13,509 graduands who are receiving their academic awards.
The university had up to yesterday not delivered all the gowns for its graduands following a disagreement between management and the supplier, something that sparked panic and protests among the affected students.
Addressing the congregation during the first day of the four-graduation ceremony yesterday, Prof Nawangwe said the university was doing everything possible to stop recurrence of the same mistakes.
"I begin by making this public apology to our graduands, parents, guardians and the general public for the mess that was created by the incompetence of our supplier," he said.
"Due to the hard work of my extraordinary management team, we have secured all the 15,000 gowns that are required for the graduation ceremonies," he added.
Prof Nawangwe said the graduands, who are slated to graduate tomorrow and Friday, will pick their gowns today at 2pm from their respective colleges.
He also revealed that the university is working to recover its 1,000 acres of land from encroachers.
"There have been reports that Makerere has sold its land in acres that we own in different parts of Kampala and the metropolitan. But it is not true. What I can confirm is that that land has been lost to encroachers and we are currently working with the government to recover it," Prof Nawangwe said.
The university has huge chunks of land in Katanga slum in Wandegeya, Katalemwa in Kawempe Division, another in Makindye Division and Kololo in Central Division, among other places.
At the same function, the Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni, said she was impressed that the number of female graduands this year surpassed their male counterparts. She said this is proof that the government's affirmative action on promoting the girl education has yielded the results.
"I have been informed that this is the first time the number of girls is surpassing their male counterparts. However, the numbers of females are only high at the undergraduate level as opposed to the numbers at Master's and PhD level. I ask for research to establish the reasons behind this trend," Ms Museveni said.
She cautioned graduates to desist from using uncivilized means of solving conflict. She cited the frequent student strikes at the university that often paralyse work and disrupt the learning environment.
"University graduates are looked at as responsible people. Thus we get disappointed seeing our future leaders choose means that promote conflict. You should always use peaceful means to solve your grievances as opposed to chaos," Ms Museveni urged.
She said the ministry is finalising a white paper from the late Dr Abel Rwendire report that will recommend measures to address causes of strikes in public universities.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who represented President Museveni, said universities must concentrate on teaching science courses if Uganda is to develop economically.
He said there are surplus local raw products such as sugarcane and milk, and Makerere University should conduct research and make innovations to transform them into processed products of commercial value.
"I commend Makerere for starting to make their own products such as vaccines. I have been informed that your students make an anti-tick vaccine and that it is working. I urge you to perform better than this and as the government, we are committed to offering you more funding for research," Dr Rugunda said.
Of the 13,509 students graduating this week, 6,820 (50.5 per cent) are female and 6,689 (49.5 per cent) male.
A total of 61 students, 17 of whom are female, will graduate with PhD. Another 1,173 will be awarded master's degrees. The graduation ends on Friday.
Students from the college of Business and Management Sciences, Computing and Information Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-security will graduate today.