Kampala, Uganda: Makerere University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe has appealed to the government to revive sponsorship for graduate students, arguing that this will transition Makerere into a research-intensive University pivotal to Uganda’s development needs.
Nawangwe made the appeal on Wednesday during the Inaugural Makerere University Agricultural week organized by Students from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Makerere University, on which President Museveni was chief Guest.
The event, which featured several on-going student innovations in the fields of agro-processing was intended to showcase inroads made by the institution into agricultural research. Addressing the President, Nawangwe noted:
“We (Makerere) are transiting into a more research-intensive University and that means; we need to increase the ratio of graduate students. We would like to request that the government considers reviving sponsorship for graduate students.”
In the financial year 2019/2020, Government earmarked Shs.30 billion towards supporting research at Makerere University. While Nawangwe acknowledged the importance of the financial support, he argued that more impact would be made if graduate students doing Masters and PhD programs can also receive scholarship from government.
The Vice-Chancellor noted that government sponsorship for graduate students was stopped in the early ’80s and called upon the government to revive it, arguing that “all studies show that the modern economy depends on a critical mass of graduate cadres.”
Presently, Government only sponsors 4000 students annually to pursue undergraduate studies at public universities. Since 2014, it has also set up a student loan scheme, in which financially handicapped students unable to qualify for government sponsorship can apply for study loans to be repaid after school. Nawangwe says the same arrangement should be provided for graduate students.
Speaking after Nawangwe, Makerere University Council Chair Ms. Lorna Magara paid tribute to the innovating students, saying they were helping safeguard the University’s reputation as a center for research and innovation. “We have gathered today to witness the contribution of our scholars towards agricultural development. The exhibition is a demonstration of Makerere University’s commitment to the transformation of the agricultural sector through homegrown ideas and innovation,” she said
She pledged the University Councils’ commitment towards building an enabling environment for research and innovation at the University to support government efforts towards promoting food security, employment and increased export earnings through exploiting the various opportunities along the agricultural value chain.
“The strategic plan aims to transform Makerere into a research-led University, and we aim to build an ecosystem that links the national policy needs to research and innovations which should be able to guide the policies developed and ultimately the decisions taken at different levels of governance in the nation,” Ms Lorna Magara added
The University gifted the president with100kgs of the latest improved varieties of Mak-soybeans, which are the product of over 20 years’ investment in Soybean research at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute in Kabanyolo, Gayaza.
On his part, President Museveni applauded the Vice-Chancellor for “reorienting Makerere” to create order at the University, arguing that it was an orderly environment that was enabling these breakthroughs in research.
“This man from this remote place has added value to Makerere University, in the right direction, by telling you to concentrate on teaching and on research, not strikes and useless activities. I’m really very excited; I congratulate the professors for coming to reality to make training here a producer of what is needed,” he said.
The president also said he agreed with the vice chancellor’s proposal to recast funding to sponsor postgraduate students “especially those making research in sciences,” but stopped short of making any specific commitments on behalf of government.