We’re Going to Strike if Monday’s Exams are Not Extended – Makerere Guild President

Katerega Julius, the Guild President of Makerere University

Students at Makerere University have threatened to go to strike on Monday if the Management does not extend the Semester by two weeks, to compensate for the time students lost at the start of the semester when lecturers and administrative staff went on strike for a month.

The Guild President, Julius Kateregga told SoftPower News on Saturday that the Management has disregarded the request by the students to have the date for beginning end-of-semester examinations extended by two weeks.

The request had been made on the basis of time students lost at the start of the semester when lecturers went on a month-long strike, Kateregga told this news website.

SoftPower News has obtained a copy of a letter written to the Guild President by Dr Umar Kakumba, the Acting Vice Chancellor, indicating that there will be no extension of the semester except for three Colleges; the School of Law, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) and College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bi—Security (CoVAB).

“This is to advise that the Semester Two examinations timetable as earlier published by the relevant offices stands. There shall be no further extensions except for Law, CHUSS and CoVAB as earlier approved, whose examinations will begin on 13th May and end by 1st June 2019,” the Acting Vice Chancellor told the Guild President in the April 25 letter.

He further informed Kateregga that the Vice Chancellor had earlier written to all Colleges requesting those that needed an extension to indicate so.

“Only three colleges (Law, CHUSS and CoVAB) responded and these were accordingly given a two weeks Semester Extension approved by Senate and Council,” the letter adds.

Dr Kakumba says that further consultations within Colleges indicated that “teaching has been completed, course works/tests have been administered and examinations are ready to be administered beginning Monday 29th April 2019”.

In the few isolated cases where students received course works/tests late, arrangements have been made to allow submissions on a case by case basis as determined by the affected units, the Vice Chancellor adds.

However, in an interview with SoftPower News, the Guild President said students are entitled to an extension of the Semester because they are not prepared to sit the examinations on April 29.

“We are not asking for an extension of the Semester. We are entitled to it. There was an impasse [strike] at the start of the Semester, as students, we lost a month of our normal time. That (time) was never recovered,” Kateregga said.

He says the GRCs (Guild Representatives to Council) recently sat and took a vote on the issue and the resolution was to have the Semester extended across the board, and not just for select Colleges.

“Management has refused to grant that. We have negotiated and we feel like we have been disregarded. Now that this has failed, the last resort is always use of force,” the Guild President says.

He faults the university Management for compressing the examinations into a period of two weeks instead of the usual 3 weeks.

“We as the students’ community have written to the VC informing him that we are not ready until the 13th day of May to be examined. If examinations are maintained on Monday, we are going to strike. That is our position,” he said.

“Let them [Management] call the lecturers and examine them on Monday. It wasn’t our fault that they went on strike, it was their infighting,” Kateregga added.

Asked to comment on the argument by the Management that consultations with Colleges found out that all activities are on schedule to allow examinations kick off on Monday, Kateregga said the College Principals do not represent the interests of the students, the Students’ Guild does.

“Consultations at administrative level do not reflect the students’ position. They reflect what the Principals and Deans are feeding Management. We are the people with the voice of the students and we are saying the students are not ready”.  

In January this year, staff, both administrative and academic at Uganda’s oldest and biggest institution of higher learning went on strike that lasted a month, demanding among others the lifting of suspension by the Vice Chancellor of the Chairman of the academic staff (MUASA), Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi and two other staff Association leaders.

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