Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, Former Presidential Candidate
Early this month, I published an article entitled ‘’ Creation of Regional Public Universities is a Fundamental Change in the History of Uganda’’. In this article, I categorically stated that ‘’The recommendation by the Makerere University Visitation Committee 2017 that all public universities be converted into one public university (Makerere University) and that other public universities become constituent colleges of Makerere University is the most ridiculous and un-researched recommendation in the history of Uganda’’.
The Visitor of Makerere University, HE The President of Uganda in his letter dated 8th January 2018 to the Minister of Education and Sports directed that government takes over Mountains of the Moon University and Busoga University and converts them into public universities in Toro and Busoga sub-regions regions respectively. The President further directed that the Ministry of Education and Sports should plan to have at least one public University in each sub-region that was recognised as a district of Uganda at independence in 1962. So where does this directive by HE Excellency the President leave the recommendation by the visitation committee on having a one public university in Uganda? My personal view as already stated above is that each public university is set by an Act of Parliament and there is no way members of parliament would have supported the repealing of the acts that created public universities in their regions in favour of one University with its head quarters in Kampala.
We need regional Universities. USA, Canada, UK, Germany, China, Kenya, South Africa etc. have regional regional universities. No country can develop without setting up regional universities. I would like to restate that each regional public university should have a medical school that uses the regional hospital as a teaching hospital to provide high end health services to citizens due to the presence of the specialised doctors and other health professionals who are staff in the University. The academic programmes at the regional university should be demand driven and tailored towards the needs of the regional community and the students’ projects should be aimed at solving community problems and challenges. Integration of education in the development agenda is the only sure way we can rapidly transform our regions socially and economically.
Accordingly, Mountains of the Moon University should plan to have Fort-Portal Regional Referral Hospital, commonly known as Buhinga Hospital as teaching hospital once t becomes a public university. Also it should focus on establishing a medical school to start teaching medical and nursing diploma/ degree programmes. This will ensure that government recruits medical doctors and other health professionals for the medical school that will also work with the regional referral hospital, thus bringing high end health services closer to the people. In the same vein, I would like to advise Busoga University to focus on starting a Medical School and transform Iganga General Hospital into a Teaching Hospital. The politicians in the region should lobby government to upgrade Iganga General Hospital into a Regional Referral Hospital for Busoga sub-region.
Finally, I would like to commend government on this strategic move of bring social services (education and health) closer to the people.