The government is discussing plans to block children of the rich from getting government scholarships to study at universities.
This was revealed yesterday by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, during the Makerere University centennial celebrations in Kampala, where President Museveni was the Guest of Honour.
Mr Tayebwa said the scholarships should be ring-fenced for children of the poor to promote equity in access to education because the rich parents can afford university tuition.
“Most [of the] beneficiaries of government sponsorships are students from well-to-do families. They are children of the rich [who qualify] from [Mt St Mary’s College] Namagunga, [St Mary’s College] Kisubi and [St Mary’s] Kitende,” he said.
He added: “That is where all of us are taking our children so that they excel and they benefit from government scholarship. The school fees in some of those schools are higher than the tuition fees of the university.”
Mr Tayebwa told the President at the event that they are preparing a proposal that will be presented to him. He didn’t give the timeline.
Some students from upcountry, however, benefit from the district quota system which was introduced in 2005 by the government to give a chance to students from districts that do not benefit from the national merit scheme. But Mr Tayebwa said this is not enough.
According to information from the government, every year, of the 4,000 government scholarships, 75 percent of the slots are reserved for the national merit scheme while the remaining slots are given to district quota.
Mr Museveni, while speaking at the event which attracted alumni, development partners and government officials from Uganda and other countries, said he has instituted a committee to review the entire education system.
Applauding the science and health departments of Makerere University, the President, as he has done in the past, questioned the relevance of the content lecturers are teaching learners in art departments.
He mentioned the development at Makerere Medical School, which led to discoveries such as the link between cancer and infectious diseases, and the advances in the College of Engineering which led to the manufacturing of an electric vehicle, among others.
However, some of the technologies like the electric vehicle have not yet been deployed to solve the problems they were intended to years after launch.
Mr Museveni said Uganda is not prospering because of the low prioritisation of sciences, a position that has been questioned by some legislators and educationists.
“There is an educational review commission headed by Hon Amanya Mushega. The aim of that commission is to audit the education system in Uganda,” the President said.
He added that although Makerere University has made some achievements, the management needs a holistic understanding of society to support the government in addressing issues affecting development in the country.
“In 1922, Makerere University was established, but we have been here for four and half million years. How can the education system just concentrate on 100 years [of existence?]” he asked.
Referring to the Bible, Mr Museveni said his government is determined to reorganise what is taught in universities so that the country can become independent and liberate itself from dependence on foreign countries.
“This 1922 [establishment of Makerere University] is a phenomenon at certain historic point as a consequence of what was going on before. We should ask how the African society was organised before colonialism,” Mr Museveni said.
He added: “The African social scientists should study what was happening in society before colonialism. Why was Africa conquered [and colonised?”
The university was established in 1922 by the British colonial government as a small vocational school, which would eventually become the country’s most prestigious institution, Makerere University.