Kyambogo University closure: A failed education and administratve sector
Last week saw the closure of a public univerity, just a few weeks after it had opened to usher in the beginning of a new academic year, 2012/2013. The closure of the university by the University Council was solely blamed on the refusal of Prof. Isiah Omolo Ndiege, the embattled Kyambogo VC who refused to resign saying he can’t bow down to the mob justice he is currently facing and further says that if he stepped aside to pave way for investigations into the mismanagement of the Univesity, he would have
set a bad example for other institutions to follow and the lecturers refusal to teach if Prof. Omolo didn’t resign. The closure was the most ideal alternative for the University Council since the students were idle at the campus (due to the refusal of the lecturers to do their work) and “an idle mind is definately the devil’s workshop’. Well probably, they could have gone back to class had the VC resigned (whether
willingly or forcefully) but that didn’t happen!
The only story that comes to my mind when I heard all this was when the Hon. Prime Minister and some of his cabinet members were being asked to resign to pave way for investigations and they refused, later coming up with the term ‘stepping aside’. This really shows that the VC has people who inspire his actions in top positions of the gov’t.
“You must set a good example for the rest of society to follow…” were Prof. Mondo Kagonyera’s words, the Chancellor of MUK, as he officiated at the handover ceremony of the Makerere University Vice Chancelorship.
However, the University Council Chairman, while appearing before an education committee in Parliament said that it would take atleast two months for the University to re-open!!! 2 months??? Either i’m not getting something right, or if I am, then there is rot in our educational sector. Barely after a 2 month holiday, the students are being forced into another 2 month holiday because the staff failed to agree with the top administrator?
The University Council came out to clearly state that if Prof. Ndiege resigned to pave way for investigation, then he would be re-instated once found innocent. He still refused to resign!
How can one man have more power than the lecturers and the University Council combined? Is it really fair to the students who just paid about a million each in tuition (without considering other charges) to have the university closed?
One of the petitioners, Mr. Jackson Magola, a part time lecturer at the university, believes that the lecturers are employing mob justice so as to cover up the indiscipline, mismanagement and criminal cases against them. With Prof. Ndiege momentarily out of office, he believes the lecturers will have bought more time for themselves and will thus kill any available evidence against them
The guild president of Kyambogo, Mr. Buni Christopher, had this to say when asked for a comment about the whole situation; “The problems of kyambogo are as old as kyambogo. It is not lack of professionalism or lack of human skill but it is just simple; Kyambogo lacks managers. It is not compulsory to have just any professor manage an institution. We need someone who can manage Kyambogo as a business module with parents as suppliers, students as raw materials, graduates as the finished products and the outer world as final consumers”.
Interestingly, the University Council had asked the VC to step aside thus lecturers calling off their strike. The council surprised many when it overturned it’s decision and re-instated him back to office citing serious legal implications if they forced him out of office. Reports in the media have it that H.E Sabalwanyi had written a strongly worded 7-page letter to the Council, through Hon. Charles Bakabukindi, ordering (or rather requesting) the council to put Ndiege back to office! ‘The orders from above’ had to be followed which did not go down well with the lecturers who thus resumed their strike.
When two elephants fight, it is the grass which suffers. All the students, some of whom, are not even aware of exactly what is going on, are flabbergasted at the effects of the closure as they are now idle and have got nothing to do.
In the book ‘Secrets of fascinating leaders’, the author, Agaba Ronald Bills, a commentator on leadership and current affairs of Uganda says that “Leadership becomes important during a crisis, this is the perfect opportunity for you to stand up and hold situations together” which clearly, the administrators of Kyambogo have failed to do. When asked for his opinion about the incident, Mr. Agaba said “Kyambogo suffers a leadership vaccum. This is not to say people dont have titles but they lack the competences of leadership. No group is talking about students who are the main objective of increased pay for lecturers or Vice chancellor management. All you see is hunger for recognition and selfish bickering”.
It is true that it is competely impossible for the University to operate when there are wrangles in the top most administrative body. That is the exact reason why I had no problem with the closure of the university. However, the conflict resolution process must be swift, quick and done in the shortest possible time. A 2-months closure is the worst that can happen to the students since this will affect those who are in their final years (and probably already have jobs pending the completion of their courses), the parents who struggle hard and end up seeing their money put to waste, the christmas holiday (since i expect lectures to go on into this holiday when campus re-opens to cater for the time currently being lost) and even the integrity of all parties in this conflict.
What could therefore be the solution to this? The lecturers have refused to go back to class, Minister Bakabulindi tried to negotiate and bring in a fair resolution but failed and parliament has been disrespected (or rather not heeded to) by the VC. The two parties to this conflict seem to have ‘equal power/authority’, thus a battle of egos that could end up complicating the conflict more. It gets more complicated when reports had it that the letter from the president said those calling for the VC’s resignation were being misguided by some fellows in the opposition who were fighting the gov’t (See the observer news piece here http://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20706&catid=85&Itemid=106 ). SERIOUSLY???
While appearing before the committe set up by Parliament to investigate the whole situation, the Secretary to the University Council threatened to reveal rot in the method which was used to select the embattled VC. To me, it seems there will be a lot of rot that will be revealed in both sides, the VC and the lecturers, by the time these investigations are complete.
My conclusion is that right from the start, ‘above’ seems to be fuelling the conflict and taking sides. Unless this above decides to become neutral and have the wellbeing of staff, administration and most of all students, at heart, then the only hope for a quick solution will solely lie in the hands of VC, staff & the university council. I hope this Council will quickly broker a reconciliation and put bussiness back to normal at this great institution since not only the university will face the consequences but also all future companies and institutions which hope to recruit fron this gallant university. The faster the rot is unraveled, the quicker a solution will be gotten and the easier it will be for the University to re-open and operate smoothly.
@jobaze (on twitter)
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