Waking up to the news that numerous Ugandan University Courses had expired was not the best start of the week. As a parent and a friend to many other parents a good number of them with children or dependants pursuing university courses locally, I got depressed.
Lately we have academic institutions that have made it a pass time to not only create fancy looking duplicates of courses but also hype them up for the gullible citizenry who are yearning to have a household member with a degree on their head.
Then you have the National Council of Higher Education that has chosen to sleep on duty. On the organisation’s website, the message from the Executive Director clearly states that, ”…the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) is mandated to regulate and guide the establishment and management of higher education institutions as well as regulating the quality of higher education, equating qualifications and advising Government on higher education matters.”
Anyone with a basic comprehension of the English language can clearly see that Course Accreditation lies within their docket and they must have watched on as Universities went ahead to deliver expired courses. Really?
A look at the organogram of the organisation indicates that it has a Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation under which you find a Department of Institutional Licensing and Accreditation, Department of Program Accreditation, Department of Quality Audit, Monitoring and Compliance, Department of Standards, Recognition and Equation of Qualifications.
Now I ask, what are all these departments doing when we have such a huge problem of expired courses? What is the role of those staffing these offices? Are they largely staffed by mere incompetents who found their way there because of political, tribal, religious or any other flimsy non professional circumstances?
They may choose to blame the universities for not doing their adequate followup but as an institution, they collect money from any institution of higher learning student that is enrolled. Why then don’t they care to ensure that this student is well catered for in all aspects of regulation? This business of guaranteeing non performers employment with no delivery expectations need not be tolerated going forward.
See the arrogant statement below that the institution put out regarding the matter. It is about them sitting in their offices and everyone going to them. In this day and age? Are you being a merely responsive institution with no need for proactivity? Get real and get out of that old school mentality.
Their failure to harness the use of technology in their midst is another glitch in such an organisation whose aim is to shape the academic trends of this nation. Why for example can’t key information be online like the Programme accreditation manual, a searcheable database of the accreditation status of academic programs among others? This can then be linked to a reporting system that sends periodic reminders to institutions about the status of their courses. Not too hard to think about however, when you focus on recruiting staff based on skewed matrix, you get such pedestrian and old school approaches to doing work. A senior six computer literate kid could effect this in less than two weeks.
The Council Chairman of the Institution, Dr Elly Katunguka happens to be the Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University which according to the release, has the highest number of expired courses!!!! Imagine!!! You can’t head an institution with 197 expired courses and still have the audacity to collect school fees.
The Chairperson of the Accreditation and Quality Assurance Committee Prof. Joy Constance Kwesiga leaves one wondering what her exposure within the various academic institutions she has run has impacted upon her ability to oversee matters at a national level.
The Chairperson of the ICT, Research and Innovation Committee, Dr Jenipher Twebaze Musoke who has such a flowery CV working with numerous global institutions clearly exhibits a lackadaisical approach to this assignment.
On the management team, Dr. Aloysius Sembatya who is the Director Quality Assurance and Accreditation and Dr Nora Mulira, the Director of ICT Research and Innovation have numerous questions to answer. As sector heads, they are clearly sleeping on duty and putting the future of our children at risk. I personally recommend a serious shakeup in that institution. It needs an earthquake with the ripple effects similar to those that Jennifer Musisi brought to KCCA some years back.
As for the universities, I will dwell on Makerere University for two main reasons. It is my Alma Mater and also regarded as the apex university of Uganda. In a WhatsApp message allegedly from Prof. Nawangwe the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, he states, “A number of our academic programmes are not accredited by the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) and this has led to the denial of admission to one or two of our graduates to higher degrees by some European universities and this has understandably raised concern among members of the public. This problem has been due to laxity partly on our side and also on the side of the NCHE. On our side, there have been unacceptable delays in the review of some programmes by departments, schools, and colleges, and occasionally at the Senate level for re-accreditation as required by law. On the side of the NCHE, there have been delays in processing programmes for accreditation and also delays in updating their website.”
This clearly brings out similar undertones of busy bodies at Makerere University who feign busy schedules yet all they are grappling for is to maintain that pay cheque that allows them to continuously qualify for salary loans as well as take time to do personal errands while robbing their employer.
Instead of generalising, this is the time to shake up and make individuals accountable for this impasse. It is such a shame for an institution of Makerere’s stature to be found tolerating such petty inconsistencies. If NCHE is slow, Makerere has the might to push them into action. They are not a Johnny Come Lately like a one Metropolitan University.
What is happening at NCHE unfortunately is being replicated within various government institutions and it is only a matter of time before the rot is unveiled. It is time for a holistic change in system thinking within our Government institutions that are filled with self entitled non performers.
Shame on you NCHE, Makerere and other Universities that have slept on duty. I do request the public defender and people’s hero Counsel Male Mabirizi to take this matter up and file a Class Action Suit against these sleepy institutions that have specialised in milking parents dry while belching all the way to the bank.
Business & Technology Consultant