By Alex Esagala
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has asked the government to open up dialogue on the issue of government sponsorships at public universities, with the view of benefitting students from humble family backgrounds and poor public schools.
Speaking at the 13th Blended Higher Education Institutions Exhibition held at UMA Show Grounds in Lugogo, Kampala, on September 22, DS Tayebwa indicated that the current system of awarding government sponsorships has favored students from schools and families that can afford to study at university, discriminating those that come from the rural schools.
“I have a child at Namilyango SS and another at St Mary’s College Kisubi but when I look at the fees we pay, it is almost twice that is paid at the public universities and yet these are the schools from which most students are given government sponsorships,” noted Tayebwa.
Under the current system, at least 4, 000 top performing students are awarded government sponsorships. In most cases, students from Kampala, urban areas and other traditional schools take the lion’s share of these scholarships.
Already, continuing students at Makerere University who did not manage to apply for government sponsorships in 2020 due to covid-19 have been asked to reapply and study for free at the university.
Mr Tayebwa said the discussion should centre around how to make students from rural schools benefit from the scholarship schemes since they are already financially incapacitated.
“This is where the conversation should be channeled. If a parent can afford to pay money in secondary school, which is almost twice that is paid at university, how can they fail to pay for university? Students from Mitooma and Karamojja need these kinds of benefits and that is why there is real need for engagement here,” continued Tayebwa.
Tayebwa also briefed members who attended the function that was aimed at enhancing teaching and learning and assessment with ODEL in higher education on the saving culture and tipped them on how to make money and maintain wealth.
NCHE ROOTS FOR MORE PHD FUNDING
At the same function, National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Executive Director Prof Mary Okwakol called for more funding to facilitate studies of PhD students in the country’s universities.
According to Prof Okwakol, out of the over 12,000 lecturers and tutors employed in higher institutions of learning, only 1,900 are PhD holders, a number she said was still very low if the country is to develop faster.
Okwakol explained that these PhD students develop and lead research, as well as supervise master’s students at the university level, hence their importance cannot be underrated.
She asked the government to reinstate scholarships for PhD students to increase their numbers in the country.
Some Universities like Makerere University do not hire a lecturer without a PhD. This explains why the university possesses 50 per cent of PhD holders in the country.
ED Okwakol also tasked parliament to intervene and make the cost of data cheap for institutions of higher learning.
According to Prof Okwakol, most institutions of higher education were not accredited to carry out online teaching during the Covid19 times due to failure to afford internet and ICT equipment.
In his response, Tayebwa said he has discussed with Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) and the ICT Ministry to formulate a piece of legislation to enable the free rating of school websites.
DS Tayebwa’s call for the review of government sponsorships comes days after public universities like Makerere and Kyambogo released lists showing names of students who have been admitted on government sponsorship. (The government sponsorship lists for Makerere University and Kyambogo University are Here and There).