NATIONAL: The Busoga University transition taskforce has just concluded two successful meetings to pick ideas on the type of University stakeholders want.
The two meetings that were held on the 12th and 13th January 2023, in Kampala and Jinja respectively, attracted select religious leaders, political leaders, academicians and civic leaders with a particular interest in seeing the successful resumption of Busoga University.
Speaking during the meetings, the chairperson of the taskforce and designate University Vice Chancellor, Prof John Robert Tabuti, said the purpose of the stakeholder engagements was to have a comprehensive conversation to design the university’s strategic direction.
“In the end we would like to have ideas on the direction that you as stakeholders want the university to take and the academic programs you want the task force to develop,” he said.
Emphasizing the taskforce’s enthusiasm to work with the staff from the former Busoga University, Prof Tabuti recognized the contribution the university had made to the development of Busoga since its inception in 1999 before its closure and said the old staff will be absorbed in the new University as long as they satisfy the necessary requirements.
“The old Busoga University had created jobs and employed thousands of Ugandans. Many people were able to enroll and complete their degrees because of the proximity and the friendly way of fees payment and collection,” he said.
Speaker after speaker, at both the Kampala and Jinja stakeholders meetings, said they looked forward to a university that will contribute to the socio-economic transformation of Busoga sub-region through not only creating employment but also having courses that are tailored to the needs of region, the country and the world.
Some of the academic areas the stakeholders want the taskforce to consider for course formulation include Oil and Gas, Mining and Mineral Development, Climate Change, Manufacturing and Tourism, among others.
Participants broke out in groups and discussed and generated ideas on the Busoga University they want.
Prof. Tabuti said the taskforce is working is hard to see that the University starts operation in the next financial year.
He, however, noted that reopening of the university is also dependent on how fast Church of Uganda hands over the University land and other important assets.
Mr Anthony Mula, the Executive Director of Busoga Consortium, called for an affirmative action led approach in order for the University to lead to contribute to the socio-economic transformation of Busoga as envisaged in the Busoga Development Plan.
Representing the Archbishop of the Anglican Church, Rev. Dr Paul Kakooza, the director of Education in Church of Uganda, asked the taskforce not to veer off the founding principles and vision of the University.
“We remind you that our vision in the area of education is still to ensure that we produce people that have attained a holistic education. We implore the committee (the taskforce) to maintain this vision,” Dr Kakooza said.
“We wanted to ensure that the University is a center of excellence and it is in the same spirit that Church accepted to hand over the University to government to ensure that this philosophy is maintained, including the promotion of ethics and integrity,” he said.
He implored the taskforce to consider integrating a robust chaplaincy in the institution to see that there is spiritual growth and production of good citizens.
Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Mr Timothy Ssejoba, the Commissioner University Education, advised the taskforce to emphasize collaboration as well as networking within and without as it moves towards restarting the University.
“We can’t survive on our own. Harmonization of curricula is one of the challenging things in higher education today and also vocationalizing of education at all levels. As we structure the programs, let us ensure they are vocationalized. Prioritize research, innovation in the institution we are going to build,” he said.
Founded in 1999, Busoga University was closed in 2017. Thereafter, the Management of the University and the then holding company Busoga University Limited and the Church asked government to take over the institution and turn it into a public University.
It is on that request that government formed a six-member taskforce led by Prof. Tabuti to manage the transition.
Other members on the taskforce include; Associate Professors Mary Muhenda, Lydia Emuron and Allan Katwalo who serve as Deputy Vice chancellor Academic Affairs, Deputy vice Chancellor Finance and Administration and Academic Registrar respectively.
The team also has Mr Maxwell Amulla serving as the University Secretary and Mrs Esther Mtamakaya Biganja who serves as the University Bursar.
Launched by the First Lady and Minister for education, Janet Museveni, in August last year, the taskforce has 21 terms of reference which include, among other, developing academic programs, developing a strategic plan, coordinating the development of a master plan, developing policies, establishing offices directorate and other units that will restart the University and planning for development of a statutory instrument that will kick start the University.