President Yoweri Museveni has challenged the Management of Makerere University, East Africa’s top institution of higher learning, to aim at toping the rankings of universities in Africa, saying the 5th position is not good enough.
The President challenged the university to aim at being at the top number one position on the continent.
He made the comment on Wednesday while presiding over the Makerere University Agricultural Day and Exhibition. The event was held under the theme: “Enhancing Youth involvement in Agriculture to Mitigate increasing Food insecurity and unemployment in Uganda”.
“This saying that Makerere is 5th in position should stop. You should be in the first position because other universities leading are foreign dominated in South Africa. You are the indigenous people. This is the African indigenous university that has been here for almost a hundred years”, Museveni urged.
He however commended the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for re-orienting Makerere university and adding value to the university by telling staff and the youth to come for teaching and learning, research and innovations.
Regarding research and innovation, the President invited Makerere researchers to Statehouse after the Independence Anniversary celebrations in October 2019 to discuss how the University’s technologies and innovations can be scaled up to cause transformation in the agricultural sector.
In this regard, he said government is considering establishing a fund to support graduate training especially the science disciplines.
“I want a conference with all people with research initiatives in mid-October at state house Entebbe. I need Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye and Nakyobe also to attend. I want to get money for all these products. I want to stop travelling expenses and get money for these products. As Makerere you have done your part. It is government to do its part”, the President stated.
“I was very excited to see different innovations and I thank all those involved. Congratulations on thinking. Katondayebale to see Africans thinking”.
Museveni noted that although educated people have existed since 1950’s, it is of recent that he has seen scholars becoming inquisitive and finding out more.
The President hailed Makerere for entering the error of renaissance highlighting some of the exciting innovations of the event including the discovery of the ticks vaccine by Prof. Kahwa, leather making, fabricated agricultural engineering products, extraction of medicines from cattle placentas and banana peelings among others.
The Minister of Education and Sports represented byte Minister of State for Higher Education, John C. Muyingo observed that youth unemployment is one of the major socio-economic policy challenges facing Uganda’s economic growth and development today.
Unless this problem is amicably addressed, it will peg back Uganda’s ambition to reduce poverty and attain a middle-income status by 2020, he said.
In her remarks, the Chairperson Makerere University Council Lorna Magara, reported that the new University Council which took office in December last year has in the last nine months focused on ensuring the stability of the university, to allow for an environment of learning, research and development.
“We are glad to report that this has been achieved. The university is back to normalcy and very busy with its core activities. Makerere University has continued to shine internationally: Just last week, the UK’s Times Higher Education rankings placed Makerere at 5th position in Africa.
“In the last two weeks, together with Dan Kidega, the Vice Chairperson, I have visited all the ten colleges of the university to foster a culture of dialogue in executing our responsibilities and in resolving disagreements that may arise. Council is committed to end strikes at the University,” Magara said.
The Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked the president for his continued support to Makerere University adding that, most of exhibitions are funded through the Presidential initiative for Science and Technology.
“Your Excellency, we want to extend our sincere most gratitude to the Government of Uganda for the recent, first and single largest injection of money for research and innovation, 30 billion shillings. We pledge our commitment to put it to good and intended use of this money and produce results to transform our economy”, The Vice Chancellor promised.
He appealed to the President to revive the sponsorship of graduate students which stopped in 1980’s and to consider special loan schemes for graduate students on grounds that modern economies can only thrive on a graduate mass of students.
To this the President said; “I totally agree with the Vice Chancellor’s proposal that as government we can reconsider our funding to support post graduate training especially sciences”.
Prof. Nawangwe said the university was now settled and on its course with students determined to transform the society.
He said the Agricultural Day and Exhibition was a student’s initiative aimed at transforming the image of the university.