As a small boy growing up in Sibarara, one of the most remote villages in Uganda, I often had the privilege to read the Uganda Argus, the equivalent of the New Vision today, courtesy of my late father, who was at that time a head teacher of the local primary school and hence one of the most respected people in the county. In the Uganda Argus, I often read about Makerere University and the prominent professors at that time, including Prof. Langlands, Prof. Lule, Prof. Mazrui and others. In many ways I was inspired by the work these eminent person were doing as reported by the Uganda Argus.
When I went for further studies in the former Soviet Union, every department or subject area in my former university had only one professor. The Professor was the academic head, even if there was an administrative head. The Professor practically determined the course the Department would take on academic matters. Everybody respected the opinion of the professor. Professors went through rigorous vetting and they were appointed by the Minister of Education. In Sweden, professors are appointed by the King of Sweden. In other words, professors are highly regarded out there.
I joined Makerere University in 1987 as a lecturer. Almost immediately, I became a member of Senate. Makerere was small at that time and Heads of Department were members of Senate. Senate had few professors and we all respected their opinions. These professors were highly respected but very poorly paid due to the history of our Country, which we all know very well. But they continued working diligently, keeping Makerere above the waters through all the turbulence. Many of them could not even afford buying a car or motor cycle, but they soldiered on, executing their duties with determination and integrity, for they knew that being a teacher is a calling and not a trade.
Over the past decades, Makerere has recovered her position as a leading institution of higher learning, not just in Africa but globally. This phenomenal recovery is directly attributed to the selfless work of our professors, some already fallen as gallant soldiers of knowledge. Our medical school (College of Health Sciences) is ranked second on the African Continent thanks to the selfless service of our professors of medicine over the years. Their poor pay never made them abandon their professional duty, not even for a single day.
Today we have professors in practically every discipline at Makerere University. They have carried on the heritage of their predecessors. Our professors in human and veterinary medicine, agriculture, law, engineering and technology, social sciences and the humanities, the physical and biological sciences, economics and management, computing and information sciences, education and distance learning are among the best the African Continent has. They have done tremendous research work and published in top journals. They have mentored young colleagues and prepared them to take over the mantle of leadership. Today, more than 60% of our academic staff have PhDs thanks to the work of our professors. Today, Makerere is once again respected as the best Black University on earth because of the selfless work of our professors.
I pay tribute to our gallant professors and thank H.E. The President and Visitor to Makerere University and the entire Uganda Government for recognising the contribution our professors make to national, regional and global human development. I must also thank the Government for the enhancement of salaries of all academic staff. Indeed the salaries of all our academic staff are currently among the highest on our Continent and it is only proper that we appreciate this huge sacrifice by the Ugandan taxpayer. We can only pay back by working harder to help our beloved Country attain middle income status in the shortest time possible.
God bless our professors. God bless Makerere University and Uganda.
WE BUILD FOR THE FUTURE
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe
‘Tomorrow’ Article on Youth Empowerment
I received a copy of the Korean journal ‘Tomorrow’ in which my article on youth empowerment is published from James Kim, the representative of International Youth Foundation in Uganda. Thank you Kim!
Meeting Prof. Lee
I held discussions with Prof. Lee of Chongbuk University, who is the Manager of the Korea Uganda Dairy Project at Makerere. This project will transform the dairy sector in Uganda tremendously . Thank you Chongbuk.
Workshop on Women in Leadership in HEIs
At the workshop on participation of women in leadership and decision making in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), I have called for Makerere to regain national leadership in gender mainstreaming. We must tap into the potential of our gallant women.