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Shafik Senkubuge Overcomes Financial Difficulties to Become First-Class Graduate

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Sha­fik Senkubuge, 24, is set to graduate from the Makerere University with a Degree of Bachelor of Environmental Health Science on January 29. Before becoming one of #Mak74thGrad’s stars from the College of Health Sciences (MakCHS), he faced financial constraints and personal challenges, but found the wisdom and resilience for his academic prowess to shine brightly.

He graduates with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.46 out of 5.00 (First Class Honors) qualifying him to be on the Vice Chancellor’s List. As a practice in Makerere University School of Public Health, he receives an award for the meritorious completion from the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.

Senkubuge entered MakSPH, after he missed his dream course, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery due to low points. He had obtained 15 points in Biology (03), Chemistry (04), Mathematics (o6) plus a point in ICT and General Paper (GP) at Mengo Senior School, despite having set himself a target to make 19 points.

Shafik Senkubuge in a group photo with colleagues during the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference. Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Shafik Senkubuge in a group photo with colleagues during the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference.

Background

Back in time, April 24, 2000 was the time when Kasozi Mohammed, a boda boda rider in Kampala and Pamela Nambusi gave birth to a young man, they later named Shafik Senkubuge. This was in the neighborhoods of Kawanda Namalere in Nangabo, Kyadondo, Central Uganda district of Wakiso. His family later shifted to Kagoma Village, in Maganjo Parish, Nabweru Subcounty and later went to Nansana Municipality, about 9.6km from the centre of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

It is here that he calls home. He is the first born in a family of three, with two younger sisters. Recently, [his father] informed him about having two additional sisters. Despite communication between his parents, they do not reside together, and his father has a second wife.

At the moment, his father drives a motorcycle taxi (Boda Boda) out of Nabweru, a Kampala suburb which is close to Kawempe. The mother, who is self-employed, is starting a decorating company in Nansana. She’s presently setting up a small business that specializes in decorations for parties, graduations, and introductions.

A 2022 Twaweza report showed that Up to 55% of Ugandans who opened businesses in the past five years had to close them due to coronavirus disruptions, declining demand, and heavy taxation

Despite relying on her hair designer job for nearly her adult life, Pamela, Shafik’s mother could survive the pandemic. In 2020, she was forced to close down her saloon after she failed to raise the rent.

“During the lockdown, we had a lot of demands as a family and she couldn’t accommodate the saloon rent. She had a very huge debt that accumulated, the landlord decided to request her to leave the house for another person. She left the house, took all her equipment home and after COVID-19 she failed to resume the same business due to financial constraints,” Shafik narrates.

Shafik Senkubuge (Centre with a ball) during one of the football gala activities of MakCHS. Main Sports Grounds, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Shafik Senkubuge (Centre with a ball) during one of the football gala activities of MakCHS.

This happened a very critical time he was joining University. Fortunately for him, his mother had ventured into brick-laying during lockdown, and this is where he concentrated his energies to look for his tuition, if he was to ever join University.

Shafik’s academic journey began in 2004 at Kawempe Junior. A dedicated  teacher at Melody Junior School that he joined later in 2009 ignited his interest in Science and Mathematics. This spark set the stage for his remarkable academic journey.

After completing primary two and crossing to primary three in 2008, his father had constructed a home in Nansana, where the family had to relocate to. In 2009, Shafik joined a new school – Melody Junior School in Nansana, a new environment, getting new friends.

At P.7, he became one of the only 4 first grades the school had, scoring 12 points.

“As the firstborn, my mother rejoiced, but concerns arose about my future after primary school due to financial constraints. Despite manageable primary school fees, I graduated with a debt. Upon retrieving my certificate, we settled the debt when I was already in senior one. My mother, balancing happiness and worries, pondered on how to secure my entry into secondary school, especially with my sister in primary five and our youngest sibling born in 2011, just around a year old,” recalls Shafik.

In 2014, still puzzled at the next step, his uncle, Patrick Ssenabulya, secured him a place through his NGO at St. Kizito Katikamu Kisule in Wobulenzi, Luweero district.

Starting secondary school in Luweero with a score of 12 aggregates among classmates with 4 and 6 aggregates, Shafik aimed to excel. Forming a close bond with his friend Kayondo Joseph, the duo navigated senior one to senior four together.

Despite facing math challenges, he encouraged me to confront them, and we succeeded. In the first term, he ranked 17th out of 178 students, bringing immense joy to my mother. The following term, he secured the third position, maintaining the second position consistently until completing senior four, including in UNEB exams

“When I went back home, my mom was very happy. I remember she slaughtered a chicken for me,” recalls Shafik.

St. Kizito Katikamu Kisule, a Catholic-founded school, groomed him and exposed his potential. “We used to go to church every day, they groomed us to be humble students and be disciplined. This helped us a lot and groomed us to be competitive even in academics,” he recalls

Despite obtaining 16 aggregates at Uganda Certificate of Education from this humble school, Shafik’s quest for a better education led him to Mengo Senior School, where he faced new challenges, including a shift from boarding to day school, walking long distances. Despite the obstacles, he maintained a strong work ethic, learning valuable lessons in time management and determination.

Her mother provided a Shs3000-transport allowance daily, covering both transport and break. He would skip the break tea to save part of the money for his transport back home in the evening. As such, he only used to have lunch to last until he left school at 5:00PM. This was the routine for the two years spent at Mengo SS, and his academic performance suffered significantly during that period.

“The first points I got were seven points, and this did not change up to our Mock examinations where I got to 10 points. Being at Mengo SS, made me learn even if you are brilliant, you need to have some extra tactics and thus we used to work so hard and we did serious calculations.

I remember sometimes we used to go to some other school, Kasubi Senior School, and read up until 10:00pm, then head back home. But by that, you are cutting a traffic jam that is usually there from around 8:00pm,” he recollects.

As he completed his Form 6, fate led him to a teaching position at his former primary school. The sudden closure of schools due to the pandemic forced him to adapt, and he embraced brickmaking as a means to sustain himself. The challenges were many, but Shafik’s resourcefulness and tenacity shone through.

Shafik Senkubuge (2nd Right) in a group photo with some of the BEHS Class of 2024 graduands. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 1, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), 29th January 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Shafik Senkubuge (2nd Right) in a group photo with some of the BEHS Class of 2024 graduands.

A few weeks into the semester, a second lockdown was announced by the president. This was according to him a blessing in disguise. He was uncertain how to clear tuition and registration.

A man named Longman Musige, a friend of my mother, promised to provide one million each semester. Although he already gave me one million, he still needed 1.8 million for semester registration.

“Upon reflection, we had crafted our bricks, but when the lockdown hit, we struggled to find funds to heat them and cover the remaining tuition. Despite burning the bricks, selling them proved challenging, leaving my mom anxious about my exam fees. Eventually, with support from Musawo Kaliro, contributions from friends, and brick sales, I managed to register for the online exams for the first semester,” he says.

Adding that; “Post-exams, my GPA stood at 4.9, providing a promising start towards achieving a first-class degree. Progressing through semester one and two, I maintained my diligence and benefited from my mom’s prayers. However, challenges arose during the exams in the second semester of year two.”

His classmates ran a campaign to raise him tuition but they could only raise Shs.1.4M from well-wishers out of the Shs.4.7million needed to clear the previous semester and the new semester.

His only hope was the Dean of MakSPH to whom he wrote a letter seeking financial assistance. “I detailed my financial situation, attached my results slip, and presented the funds I had collected. I was delighted to learn that she granted me a scholarship of 3.5 million. This not only cleared my backlog but also covered the third-year functional fees. With this support, I moved to University Hall for my third year, allowing me ample time for studies and fulfilling my leadership roles as MUEHSA president and college speaker.”

Shafik Senkubuge swears in as the MakCHS College speaker in witness of Professor Damalie Nakanjako, the Principal. College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa,
Shafik Senkubuge swears in as the MakCHS College speaker in witness of Professor Damalie Nakanjako, the Principal. 

The ACMIS system at Makerere University faced a malfunction during the second semester of the first year in 2021, around the time the university was transitioning from AIMS to ACMIS. To Shafik, this was a golden chance to take exams without meeting the payment requirements.

Madvani Foundation Comes in handy

The twists and turns continued as he confronted financial obstacles, including unpaid tuition and the demands of a university education, even in his final year.

The scholarship however covered only tuition and not functional fees. This meant that he had to struggle to raise functional fees and accommodation, since he had moved to University Hall, a male student’s residence on campus.

Shafik’s involvement in student leadership, notably as the president of the Makerere University Environmental Health Students Association (MUEHSA), showcased his commitment to community engagement. Under his leadership, MUEHSA regained its lost glory, organizing conferences, community outreaches, and health education programs.

Shafik Senkubuge receives a gift from NTU's Professor Linda Gibson during the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference. Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Shafik Senkubuge receives a gift from NTU’s Professor Linda Gibson during the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference.

The pinnacle of his leadership journey was marked by the successful organization of the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference, where stakeholders and students converged to discuss pressing environmental health issues. Shafik’s visionary leadership extended beyond MUEHSA, as he became the first College of Health Sciences speaker in the new guild system.

He sends his sincere gratitude to everyone who has been instrumental in mentoring him, especially Mrs. Ruth Mubeezi Neebye and Dr. David Musoke and his staff, whose advice has been priceless. He also extends gratitude to previous classmates. “To my colleagues, I would like to appreciate and congratulate them on this accomplishment. It has been quite a demanding task but we thank the almighty God who has enabled us to reach this far. Let’s remain with that bond, let’s remain friends, let’s not lose the connection and I know if we still work together as we have been working, the sky would be the limit,” he says. 

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Prof. Sachs Expresses Optimism about Africa’s Economic Growth, PDMs Success

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Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (Right) delivers his keynote address at the High-Level Policy Dialogue as Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Left) listens on 28th February 2024. High-Level Policy Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Authority and Makerere University on the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through leveraging Innovating Financing, the Parish Development Model, and Science and Technology”, Keynote address by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, 28th February 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

The Government of Uganda has been called upon to put in place measures to ensure the effective implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme. The call was made at a High-Level Policy Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Authority and Makerere University.

Hosted by Makerere University on Wednesday 28th February 2024 at the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, the Dialogue was based on the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through leveraging Innovating Financing, the Parish Development Model, and Science and Technology”. During the dialogue, the government was urged to set up institutions that can track the usage of the program funds to ensure that the over Shs1 Trillion pumped into the program annually does not go to waste.

This call was made by Prof Ezra Suruma, the Chancellor Emeritus of Makerere University and Uganda’s former Minister of Finance, who was a panelist at the dialogue. Hon Suruma warned that currently, it is difficult to assess the achievements of PDM since there is no clear monitoring of the projects at the parish level where the money is being invested.

Right to Left: WHO Representative to Uganda-Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, Chancellor Emeritus-Prof. Ezra Suruma and UNDP Resident Representative-H.E. Nwanneakolam Vwede-Obahor chat ahead of the High-Level Policy Dialogue. High-Level Policy Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Authority and Makerere University on the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through leveraging Innovating Financing, the Parish Development Model, and Science and Technology”, Keynote address by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, 28th February 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Right to Left: WHO Representative to Uganda-Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, Chancellor Emeritus-Prof. Ezra Suruma and UNDP Resident Representative-H.E. Nwanneakolam Vwede-Obahor chat ahead of the High-Level Policy Dialogue.

“In Uganda, we are investing Shs 1 Trillion in the 10,594 parishes, but if you ask where it is going, you can’t find it. The PDM money is capital that the government is attempting to invest in our country and that capital is supposed to accumulate over time. If we invest Shs1 Trillion this year, next year we should have more than that,” Prof. Suruma said.

The Chancellor Emeritus as such, called for the establishment of an institution that can trace where the PDM funds are being invested so that this money is treated as an investment and not consumption.

Minister for Local Government Hon Raphael Magyezi however, assured Prof Suruma and the audience that implementation of the PDM program is highly monitored and leakages are extremely minimal. This, he said, was because the government decided to digitalize payments of the PDM money directly from the Treasury to the parish-based SACCOs. Furthermore, he noted that Government has put in place the PDM Management Information System (MIS) in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasis on data for development.

The dignitaries during a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at his office. Level 4, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The dignitaries during a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at his office.

“We have developed our own Management Information System so that we know which household is actually in subsistence, and we have parameters for that, and we are able to monitor and evaluate our programme based on a tracker system” Hon. Magyezi explained.

The Minister further noted that PDM targets 8.9 million households in Uganda, 39% (3.4 million) of which are still engaged in subsistence, with 1 million of these reached so far. He admitted although the PDM still has its work cut out, the Government is proud of the progress so far. Hon. Magyezi shared that Uganda has 145 establishments at the level of Local Council 5 consisting of 135 Districts and 10 Cities, 2,284 Sub-Counties to supervise the parishes and under the parishes, 70,626 villages.

The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja who was Chief Guest at the lecture shared that PDM is the Government of Uganda’s second key strategy for accelerating the SDGs and commended the Model as a “comprehensive strategy to uplift the incomes and welfare of all Ugandans.” The first key strategy is Leveraging Innovative Financing Mechanisms, while the third is putting more focus on Science, Technology and Innovation.

Hon. Raphael Magyezi makes his remarks. High-Level Policy Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Authority and Makerere University on the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through leveraging Innovating Financing, the Parish Development Model, and Science and Technology”, Keynote address by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, 28th February 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Hon. Raphael Magyezi makes his remarks.

Rt. Hon. Nabbanja highlighted the government’s commitment to harnessing the power of research and innovation to provide a strong foundation to advance the digital agenda. She added that the PDM Laboratory at Makerere gives the University an opportunity to amplify and support efficiency and effectiveness of the programme’s implementation.

“Therefore, the PDM Laboratory should continue to be a platform for 1) Distilling and providing additional insights, 2) Commissioning further research and enquiry on the basis of information provided by the technical units and feedback and 3) Analyse feedback to test out policies and operational issues for Cabinet to take action” remarked the Prime Minister.

She informed the audience that Prof. Jeffrey Sachs is leading similar efforts with a lab at Columbia University and urged the leadership of Makerere University to establish a collaboration with Columbia University, “and I’m sure Prof. Sachs is much willing to support this”.

Left to Right: Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, Hon. Raphael Magyezi, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, H.E. Nwanneakolam Vwede-Obahor and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs. High-Level Policy Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Authority and Makerere University on the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through leveraging Innovating Financing, the Parish Development Model, and Science and Technology”, Keynote address by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, 28th February 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Left to Right: Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, Hon. Raphael Magyezi, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, H.E. Nwanneakolam Vwede-Obahor and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned Economist, leader in sustainable development, and senior UN advisor delivered a keynote address in which he expressed optimism about development prospects on the African continent.

The prolific economist and author, projected that Africa would take off and become a global economic force in the next 40 years if it could find ways of uniting into a single economic block.

Citing China and India Prof. Sachs advised the government to set targets and also set instruments to help achieve these targets, if the country is to achieve the SDGs. The simple idea of “targets and instruments” was developed by Nobel Prize Laureate Jan Tinbergen. Tinbergen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Economics in 1969 together with Ragnar Frisch.

Prof. Sachs defined Sustainable Development as the result of achieving four difficult objectives namely; Material wellbeing for everybody, Social inclusion, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace and Cooperation. He nevertheless shared that these can be achieved by Tinbergen’s “targets and instruments” idea.

He advised Uganda to copy China and invest in six major types of capital namely; Education, Infrastructure, Massive Interconnected Infrastructure, Protecting Natural Capital such as clean energy sources, Intellectual/Science and Technology Capital as well as Business Capital.  On financing, he advised the government to find flexible and low interest financing with 40 year maturity if it is for sectors such as education.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (Left) and Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Right) shake hands during the courtesy call. High-Level Policy Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Authority and Makerere University on the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through leveraging Innovating Financing, the Parish Development Model, and Science and Technology”, Keynote address by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, 28th February 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (Left) and Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Right) shake hands during the courtesy call.

“What I want to promise you, though I can’t give you the final answer for that part of innovative financing, we are going to get it done. Uganda is going to show a strong NDP IV, it is going to show a very robust plan to achieve rapid growth over the next 40 years, it is going to show that that rapid growth easily repays any long-term low-interest loans that have taken to achieve that, it is going to make the case that the Parish Development Model proves the last mile in an ingenious way, and that institutionally this country is poised for the breakthrough that we are talking about at the regional, national and local level” Prof. Sachs summed up.  

In her remarks, Ms. Nwanneakolam Vwede-Obahor, the UNDP Resident Representative warned of Uganda’s widening development financing gap, standing currently at 33 trillion shillings (US$ 8.8 billion) annually. 

“Traditional financing sources such as domestic taxes, Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), concessional loans from external partners, borrowing from the domestic market and foreign direct investment are not enough to finance the SDGs,” she said.

H.E. Nwanneakolam Vwede-Obahor addresses the High-Level Dialogue. High-Level Policy Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Authority and Makerere University on the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through leveraging Innovating Financing, the Parish Development Model, and Science and Technology”, Keynote address by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, 28th February 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
H.E. Nwanneakolam Vwede-Obahor addresses the High-Level Dialogue.

“Uganda must explore alternative avenues to secure affordable and flexible financing to drive the development phase in the next seven years. This will involve continuous alignment of the budget allocations and development plans with SDG priorities, diversifying funding sources, including public-private partnerships and unlocking new innovative financing models, and enhancing financial resilience.”

The dignitaries, accompanied by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, toured the state-of-the-art Innovation Pod, which is poised to drive innovation and research in the country. In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor said that Makerere remains focused on implementing strategies and programmes under SDG 4 which emphasizes Quality Education. “I am therefore pleased that today, as we continue the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, Makerere University is on board hosting Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, the Office of the Prime Minister, National Planning Authority, UNDP, and a number of stakeholders to enhance the discussion on leveraging innovative financing, the parish development model and science and technology.”

Prof. Nawangwe shared with the audience, Makerere’s readiness to contribute to the success of the PDM, citing the role of the PDM Policy lab headed by Prof. Eria Hisali.  The PDM Policy lab conducted capacity building to sensitise low-income earners about government programs and how they can utilize the funds to improve their standards of living. The lab continues to undertake research on how to effectively implement PDM. The Vice Chancellor equally shared Makerere University’s commitment to undertaking research and programmes aimed at ensuring that health becomes a priority on the global agenda through the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Health (CESH). Established in partnership with the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, CESH’s core activities include; Capacity development and Education, Tools and resources, Networks and partnerships, and Research.

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Students Disciplinary Committee Sworn In, Urged to Uphold Professionalism, Ethics & Integrity

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Seated: The Chairperson-Mr. Isaac Newtown Kyagaba (3rd Right) and Members of the Students Disciplinary Committee-Prof. Godfrey Akileng (Left), Prof. Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza (2nd Left) and Hon. Beatrice Kiraso (2nd Right) with the Chair Students Affairs Committee-Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba (3rd Left), and DVCFA-Prof. Henry Alinaitwe pose for a group photo on 29th February 2024. Standing Right to Left are: Ms. Phiona Natukunda, Counsel Balondemu Kenneth, University Secretary-Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Dean of Students-Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, Principal PRO-Ms. Ritah Namisango and Deputy Chief Security Officer-Mr. Musa Mulindwa. E-Learning Facility, Level 4, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Members of the Makerere University Students Disciplinary Committee were on Thursday 29th February 2024 sworn in at a ceremony presided over by the Chairperson of Council represented by Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba, the Chairperson Student Affairs Committee of Council. The oaths, administered by Counsel Balondemu Kenneth, were witnessed by the Vice Chancellor represented by Prof. Henry Alinaitwe the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Chairperson of the Students Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Isaac Newton Kyagaba, University Secretary, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, Ms. Phiona Natukunda, and other officials.

Members of the Committee sworn in included;

  1. Hon. Beatrice Kiraso,
  2. Prof. Godfrey Akileng,
  3. Prof. Sylvia Antonia Nakimera Nannyonga-Tamusuza, and
  4. Rev. Dr. Lydia Nsaale Kitayimbwa.
The Chairperson, Students Affairs Committee of Council, Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba. E-Learning Facility, Level 4, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The Chairperson, Students Affairs Committee of Council, Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba.

Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba on behalf of the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Members of Council congratulated the members upon being sworn in and expressed confidence that they are going to exercise their duty and mandate very well. “I am excited to see gallant and very committed members of our community who have decided to take part of their precious time to uphold the values and principles of this esteemed institution.”

Recognizing the paramount role of the Disciplinary Committee in fostering an environment conducive to the conduct of academic affairs, and where respect, integrity and discipline thrive, Mr. Ssejjoba urged newly sworn in members to strive to ensure that Makerere remains a centre of excellence not only in academics but also character formation and social conduct.

“Your commitment to fairness, impartiality and due process will be the cornerstone of your service. As you undertake this duty, I urge you to approach every case with empathy, with understanding and with a commitment to justice” he added.

The Chairperson, Students Affairs Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Isaac Newton Kyagaba (Right) and Members (Left to Right): Hon. Beatrice Kiraso, Prof. Godfrey Akileng and Prof. Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza. E-Learning Facility, Level 4, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The Chairperson, Students Affairs Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Isaac Newton Kyagaba (Right) and Members (Left to Right): Hon. Beatrice Kiraso, Prof. Godfrey Akileng and Prof. Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza.

Mr. Ssejjoba urged the Committee Members to always remember that their decisions will shape the lives of students and impact the future of the institution. “The trust bestowed upon you comes with great responsibility. Uphold the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and integrity in all your endeavours. Let your actions reflect the values that Makerere University stands for.”

The Chairperson, Makerere University Students Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Isaac Newton Kyagaba who was officially sworn in on 18th March 2022 is yet to complete his term and as such, was not required to take oath. Addressing the gathering, he thanked the Chairperson of the Student Affairs Committee, the Vice Chancellor and Members of Management for sparing time to witness the event. He extended gratitude to the newly sworn-in members for sacrificing time to serve Makerere, noting that Committee proceedings sometimes last an entire day.

In the same breath, Mr. Kyagaba thanked the University Management and Directorate of Legal Affairs represented by Ms. Phiona Natukunda for supporting the Committee in the execution of its duties. He nevertheless urged the University Officials to ensure that all the cases brought before the Committee have sufficient supporting evidence to enable them be disposed of quickly and permit the accused to proceed with their academic programmes.

Left to Right: Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda and Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli during the swearing in ceremony. E-Learning Facility, Level 4, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Left to Right: Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda and Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli during the swearing in ceremony.

Prof. Henry Alinaitwe in his remarks thanked the Chairperson and Members of the Disciplinary Committee for accepting to serve Makerere, noting that discipline; be it of staff, students or stakeholders, is very important especially for an academic institution. He added that unlike past decades where the student population was smaller, today’s population is bigger and demands more attention.

He decried past disturbances on the campus that led to destruction of property and loss of life and reiterated Management’s zero-tolerance to acts that go against the University’s policies and regulations. “We really ask the Disciplinary Committee to help us in arresting such cases so that they serve as a deterrent.”

Prof. Alinaitwe added his voice to that of the University Secretary who had in the opening remarks appreciated that the precious time Members of the Disciplinary Committee spend rendering pro bono services to the Makerere Community’s cannot be compensated enough. “We don’t take that for granted.”

Mr. Yusuf Kiranda (Standing) makes his remarks. E-Learning Facility, Level 4, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Mr. Yusuf Kiranda (Standing) makes his remarks.

Mr. Kiranda in his opening remarks stated that the duties performed by Members of the Disciplinary Committee are a true reflection of the spirit of community service, “so we sincerely thank you very much for this sacrifice.” For example, he noted that academic staff who serve on the Committee do not get their workload reduced, and Committee Members who hold jobs elsewhere spend a significant amount of their time handling University business.

This Committee’s service, he nevertheless added, is important for the enforcement of university rules, which must be done transparently, fairly and impartially. The University Secretary noted that students as they go about their academic life might error either unintentionally or as an act of indiscipline, hence the need for a Students Disciplinary Committee to help the University Management determine each case.

“This Committee is a very strong component of the University Governance ecosystem because as an academic institution, we operate under a set of policies, rules and regulations that everybody must obey, for the maintenance of social order, and for us to work collectively in the pursuit of the goals and objectives of this university, and for creating an enabling environment for research and learning” affirmed Mr. Kiranda. He concluded by thanking the Committee Chairperson and Members for contributing to Makerere’s mandate in the overall nation building agenda.

Counsel Balondemu Kenneth (Right) administers the oath to Hon. Beatrice Kiraso (Left). E-Learning Facility, Level 4, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Counsel Balondemu Kenneth (Right) administers the oath to Hon. Beatrice Kiraso (Left).

The swearing in ceremony which opened with a word of prayer by the Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer, Ms. Ritah Namisango.

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Scholars converge at Makerere University to review the 40 years of Neoliberalization in Uganda

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Scholars that converged at Makerere University to review four decades of neoliberal transformation of Uganda pose for a group photo. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Scholars met at Makerere University to review four decades of neoliberal transformation of Uganda, the role of universities as agents and the transformative character of the process.

The ’what to do’ question was one of the central points of discussion at the conference titled Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa held on 18th to 19th January, 2024. The conference, a collaborative effort among Makerere University, International University of Rabat, Morocco and the University of Leeds, United Kingdom was organised and steered by Dr Giuliano Martiniello (Rabat), Dr Sarah Ssali (Makerere), Dr Jörg Wiegratz (Leeds), Dr Rose Nakayi (Makerere) and Professor Godfrey Asiimwe (Makerere, Mountains of the Moon University). The conference organisers had previously collaborated as part of the work on the edited collection ‘Uganda: The Dynamics of Neoliberal Transformation’ which was published in 2018.

Left to Right: Dr Rose Nakayi, Dr Sarah Ssali and Dr Jörg Wiegratz. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Left to Right: Dr Rose Nakayi, Dr Sarah Ssali and Dr Jörg Wiegratz.

The conference gave particular focus to relevant developments in matters of political economy, politics, society and culture in Uganda’s market society since 2018.  Speakers and participants were drawn from Uganda, UK, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Colombia, Egypt, South Africa, Denmark, Morocco, Canada and USA; across disciplines; including civil society leaders, journalists, intellectuals, grassroots activists, citizen researchers, as well as scholars and PhD students. More participants followed the discussions online on both conference days. The large gathering allowed for broad discussions and cross fertilisation of ideas on the various themes, connecting theory and practice within the Ugandan context.

The keynote was given by Professor Yash Tandon, a major figure in political and intellectual life in Uganda and beyond. Tandon positioned the conference in the historical context of Uganda and highlighted the imperialist roots of the neoliberal policies that are driving the restructuring agenda in Uganda today. The keynote panel brought together interventions by Professor John Jean Barya, Dr Martiniello and the public intellectual, writer and activist Kalundi Serumaga.

Professor Yash Tandon. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Professor Yash Tandon.

Papers were presented under panels on various themes such as labour, agricultural and environmental change, oil and energy transition, socio-cultural change, education, social policy state, elections and political agency. Several papers interrogated the pertinent neoliberal policies as drivers of problematic changes in various sectors such as oil and gas, education, health and housing, and in matters such as labour and labour unions. This stimulated debates on a key question: whether indeed there could be alternatives to the ongoing neoliberalisation of Uganda that seems to be unstoppable, across all realms of society.

Commentators on the papers included Dr Yusuf Serunkuma (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg), journalist and activist Agatha Atuhaire. They reflected on the everyday life aspects and the deep politics of neoliberalism in Uganda and highlighted various forms of existing resistance and push back vis-à-vis neoliberal political economy. Winnie Byanyima (UNAIDS Executive Director) enriched the conference with her comments about global and local neoliberalism, and the importance of activism in the struggle for change in today’s Uganda: she raised the ‘what should we do?’ question on conference day one; which was picked up by subsequent speakers including in the conference’s closing speeches and discussions.

Dr. Winnie Byanyima speaking. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Winnie Byanyima speaking.

Issues arising from the conference included:

  • Four decades into the neoliberal transformation of Uganda, the all-encompassing and transformative character of this process is evident. It was also noted that scholars have grappled with the analysis of some of these changes; mostly focusing on issues of governance, policy-making, military conflict, and state-building.
  • Relatively little analytical attention has been given to major topics concerning the making and operation of today’s neoliberal Uganda, this exemplary market society in East Africa and the continent at large: this includes the political economy of neoliberal restructuring (including the roll-out of commercialisation across sectors and the rise to dominance of foreign TNCs), the political sociology of the formation of hegemonic and counter-hegemonic movements, and the political ecology of extractivism.
  • The existence of significant gaps in the academic literature about the interlinkages among economic, political, sociological, ecological, legal and cultural processes in this highly consequential round of capitalist restructuring of the country: the phase that has locked-in a distinct capitalist institutional architecture for the foreseeable future.  
  • The question of how to contest, resist and change the existing neoliberal polity, economy and culture – i.e., the fundamentals of Uganda’s capitalism – is also not often analysed in much of the scholarship. And yet, the ‘what to do?’ question is prominent in the public debate in the country, given the manifold crises – across economic and social sectors – brought about by neoliberalisation.
Dr. Rose Nakayi speaking. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Rose Nakayi speaking.

The conference took place in a wider context in which universities have been recognized as agents of change in many societal spheres. They are moving away from the ‘ivory tower’ concept, where they are seen as occupying special places in terms of knowledge generation without much concrete connection to society and its everyday challenges. Instead, the change-oriented agency of today’s University is evident also in the offering of a platform to debate and generate ideas that can inform policy for change, and involvement in change-oriented projects with other stakeholders, public and private.

The conference thus aimed at providing a platform for analysing and debating various developments of Uganda’s neoliberalism since the early 1980s.

Dr. Guilliano Martinello. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Guilliano Martinello.

It is hoped that many papers presented at the conference will be developed further, subjected to peer review, and published to inform research and policy making in Uganda and beyond. The conference participants continue their networking and collaborations beyond the end of the conference.

The next conference on contemporary capitalism in Uganda is expected to be held in 2026. The conference was supported by the POLIS Strategic Investment Fund (SRIF) 2023/24 (University of Leeds). This grant also helped citizen researchers from northern Uganda to participate in the conference and present their research findings.

A screen showing the Conference theme. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A screen showing one of the papers presented at the Conference.

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