Museveni Sets Priorities for 2016/17 Budget

PM Rugunda (middle) greets participants at budget conference at Serena hotel on Wednesday (L) Deputy Premier Gen. Moses Ali (Photo by PMPU)

By Professor Benon C Basheka, try PhD, information pills FCIPS  

Universities worldwide are more than ever before challenged to show their relevance and contribution to society through their known core functions of teaching, research and community outreach.

Like all countries of the globe, University in Africa(whether public or private) generally and the Ugandan universities in particular have undergone series of transformations in an attempt to show their relevance and contribution to the knowledge economy as they also struggle to attain goals of their establishment.

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The 21st century University is above all expected to instil core values among not only the students who enroll on various programmes but also the staffs whether academic or administrative so as to sharpen their skills, competences and behavioral attitudes if they are to respond to challenges that society has bestowed on them.

Creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills thus now remain hallmarks of the key competences that can be imparted by universities.

Private universities have additional challenges and expectations from those in the public ream.

They must simultaneously meet the expectations of different stakeholders while they strive to attain their goals and objectives as well as undertaking their businesses to see them Grow,make profits and achieve sustainability.

These expectations need to be accomplished within the regulatory regimes of the higher education in Uganda.

Throughout Africa, Universities face a myriad of challenges touching on leadership and Governance, quality of education and services, teaching, research and staffing. Leadership and governance present a solid challenge to most universities.

Relevance of the curriculum offered by universities remains questionable in the eyes of many stakeholders especially more so as countries grapple with the unemployment malaise.

Universities remain in acute financing circumstances, and there remains in a large measure low research productivity even with sizeable number of good academics. There also remains lack of full administrative and academic full establishments and this is made further difficult by the high levels of brain drain.

In African universities; Uganda inclusive, there remains inadequate academic staffs especially at PhD level, low and embarrassing completion rates of students especially the graduate students with some students spending as many years as 6 on an ideally two year Master’s degree!.

Unemployed graduates remains almost a ‘curse’ that most parents and guardians point an accusing figure to universities.

While the majority of universities celebrate high intake of students (at input level), hardly is there deliberate attention paid by university managers and administrators on the processes of academic delivery (process level) and above all the number of students who actually complete their academic programs on time (output level) and later what those who come out of the universities actually contribute to organizations and society (impact level).

Each of these levels has its own challenges that need attention by various stakeholders with interest in reversing the trends of our education enterprise at university level.

The quality of graduates has often received a lot of fingering from numerous commentators on the university enterprise.

Common accusations is that graduates lack critical thinking skills and innovation approaches, lack employability skills and that they have poor attitude to work and life.

Meanwhile, the liberalization of the sector continuous to lead to what some have preferred to label the ‘massification of university education’.

There remains an acute strain within universities regarding institutional infrastructure and this has been made worse by the numerous delivery modes including evening, day, weekend and distance programmes.

Most universities in Africa have largely ignored the blended-use of technology which offers not only a flexible mode of delivery but also reduces the strain on the infrastructure.

Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU) agenda

Prof. Benon C Basheka (Centre) at a graduation ceremony

Prof. Benon C Basheka (Centre) at a graduation ceremony

With a strong ambition and desire to address some of the above challenges and those many more that afflict the higher education sector on the continent, and in Uganda in particular, it was in September 2012, when eminent men and women, academics and practitioners, young and old, penned down the initial documents which incubated a new private university to offer relevant education, research and community emancipation.

Uganda Technology and Management (UTAMU) was born out of the need to make a difference.

The university has since been watered, and pruned by the young academics who had their stints of academic engagement at mostly public universities and other public higher educational institutions.

On March11 2013, UTAMU was formally accredited by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) under License Number UIPLO22 to operate as a private university in Uganda.

With the liberalized policy arrangement of government, the young men and women who took charge of running the baby UTAMU worked side by side a high caliber of celebrated and experienced members of the governance structures at board of trusteeship level and university council to oversee the transformation of the university.

Within this scheme of things, in just a period of just 3 years, UTAMU has surely now moved from its infancy and can be described to have reached maturity level and was in a high drive to attain true adulthood position.

This is a process that will take some time but the university will reach that adulthood status.

The university now has four academic schools, and four directorates including the UTAMU graduate school, School of Business and Management, School of Computing and Engineering as well as the School of Professional and Vocational Education, Directorate of Academic affairs, Directorate of ICT and Library services, Directorate of Engagement, Research and innovation as well as the Directorate of Finance and Administration.

It boasts of 42 academic programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and all these are fully accredited by NCHE and were specifically designed produce university graduates with appropriate theoretical and practical skills, competences and behavioral attitudes demanded by the 21st century.

From almost a staff number of less than 10 in 2012, the university now employees more than 100 well experienced academic and administrative staffs.

The university now has over 1000 students .While most students are in country students, there is a positive trend in attracting regional and international students.

The university has been the first university in the country to fully integrate the use of blended learning technologies in university education.

The impact so far created at PhD training is visible. Under the UTAMU-MUST joint PhD initiative which was started in 2013, the first graduate has defended his dissertation and has successfully passed.

This particular student had transferred from another university where he had spent over 3 years without progressing.

Several other PhD students on this initiative have made impressive strides and are destined to completing their academic programs within a period of three years-thanks to the rigorous monitoring system UTAMU-MUST institute to regulate this initiative

What experiences are available to share on the progress so far made in our delivery methods?

First has been the use of blended learning techniques and the unique block release mode of delivery especially for graduate programs which have demonstrated to our student clientele the flexibility and wide range of menu the university offers.

Through the e-learning platform and e-learning facilities, UTAMU is now a university of choice for highly busy and experienced manager desirous of attaining higher academic qualifications.

The e-learning system is supplemented by a strong e-library whose resources are updated on a daily basis by the specifically recruited staffs to undertake this task.

Second, the use of industry –based practitioners in teaching combined with thorough and highly experienced academics has set a clear tone for the university’s teaching, and research agenda.

Furthermore, the efficient and effective academic processes, the fast decision making practices and the culture of transparency has set a clear message on our long journey of transformation.

The research supervision capacity where scholars across the continent are brought on board to supervise PhD students and the remuneration processes for this undertaking have enabled us to achieve what we have been able to achieve.

Despite the impressive developments since inception, the university finds itself operating in what is best described as a chaotic local, regional, continental and global environments which generate numerous forces that should continuously shape the university direction.

Competition with other providers of similar services is real and at its highest. The demands and expectations of the various stakeholders is on the increase and the university will continue to attract scrutiny from all corners and contexts.

The needs of our various student categories will keep changing and this demands us to have seamless processes and a high degree of robustness coupled with a dedicated team of staffs willing to work beyond the call of duty.

Like other higher education institutions, UTAMU grapples with resource constraints, and the blending of public sector work mentality that some of its staffs may demonstrate and the private sector styles of management which demand greater flexibility, innovation, efficiency and effectiveness across all administrative and academic processes of the university.

Not only is the university faced with an increasingly regulated environment but stakeholders demand more than ever before. Students for example have greaterexpectations and demand feedback almost instantly in all academic processes-admission, registration, class attendance, examinations, release of results, graduation and how their complaints are managed.

The parents and guardians have their own expectations on the university especially in as far as shaping the character of their children is concerned.

The administrative and academic staffs have their own demands just as the shareholders, and management do have their own expectations. The game changer in all these dynamics depends in a large measure on how those in management and leadership positions meticulously execute their tasks.

Some of the tasks will undoubtedly require going beyond the call of duty as the values of UTAMU demand us to do.Promoting our resolve on the culture of efficiency and effectiveness while building the structures of the University is an area that has been identified as central to our direction.

UTAMU’s Governance council recently passed a new governance infrastructure to direct the activities of the university.

The governance manual sets guidelines on the structures, the processes and roles of different organs upon which management systems, processes and regulations are to be anchored.

The new strategic plan of UTAMU has also outlined key strategic objectives that need to be attained over the planned period. Leadership which entails providing guidance to the full implementation of the governance arrangements is paramount. As a private University our focus will on three interrelated areas.

First, our systems and services should enable us grow. Secondly, our services should be offered in a manner that enables us to attain dividends for the shareholders of the university. Thirdly, we need to lay strategies that will ensure we become sustainable financially, organizationally and administratively.

Attaining these core business virtues will be possible through offering -our academic services, research and engagement activities with distinction.

The writer is the current Vice Chancellor of Uganda Technology And Management University (UTAMU).

Former Prime Minister and presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi has vowed to give his all to protect the 2016 election from being rigged by the government in power, this site Chimp Corps report.

Mbabazi said he was an old broom conversant with all corners of the government institutions, tadalafil maintaining he would nip in the bud any attempts to overturn the will of the people.

“They might attempt to rig during elections, recipe ” warned Mbabazi.

“But I know all the inner workings of the system. Trust me, no one will rig the 2016 election,” he assured the people of Mityana during a campaign rally on Wednesday.

“I have been there. No one understands the system better than I,” he emphasised.

He said the people should keep their eyes open and protect their votes in the election.

The opposition has previously accused President Museveni of rigging national elections, a charge he denies.

On the other hand, Museveni claims opposition cheats especially in urban areas through intimidation.

Addressing the media recently at State House Entebbe, Museveni said his wish has always been procuring hi-tech equipment that identifies the voters by their finger prints to eliminate electoral malpractices.

The Electoral Commission has since assured its determination and ability to conduct free and fair elections.

No Power

Meanwhile, Mbabazi also spoke about his reign as Prime Minister, saying he was powerless.

“I tried to bring about reforms in government when I was appointed premier. But this was misconceived as an ambitious attempt to take power,” he observed.

Mbabazi has since come under fire from government officials for not doing enough to address the ills he now wants to cure.

These include massive youth unemployment, poverty, corruption and poor public service delivery.

Critics claim Mbabazi wielded considerable power during his time as Minister in charge of Defence, Security, Constitutional Affairs and later Prime Minister.

However, Mbabazi said, “For the entire 30 years, I had no power.”

“The Ugandan Constitution grants all executive powers to the President.”

Mbabazi also discussed engaging the youth in development especially in the process of production.

The presidential candidate also spoke about protecting women and preserving their rights.

He urged his supporters to stay peaceful throughout the electoral process and not yield to provocation by other parties.
President Museveni has recommended that the budgeting cycle for financial year 2016/17 should prioritise NAADS-operation wealth creation; micro-finance; the youth fund; the women fund and payment for the veterans’ pensions.

Museveni said other areas of focus should be cattle compensation; the land fund; institutional housing for teachers, visit this site health workers and soldiers; safe water and water for irrigation.

President Museveni’s remarks were contained in a speech read for him by the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who represented him at the closing of the consultative budget conference for financial year 2016/17 at Serena hotel on Wednesday.

“On account of the thirst for seedlings and the breeding stock, drugs I recommend that in the coming financial year, nurse we commit, at least, 1,000 billion shillings (1 trillion shillings) for this activity alone.  That will mean a total of Ug. Shs. 1,479.96 billion for the Ministry of Agriculture,” Museveni said.

The President said through using the Uganda government money since 2006, Government has either partially or wholly funded the reconstruction and rehabilitation of many roads such as Matugga-Semuto-Kapeeka, Gayaza-Zirobwe, Fort Portal-Bundibugyo, Busega-Mityana, Bugiri-Malaba/Busia and Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara among others.

“As we speak now, all the major roads I wanted tarmacked are funded.  The last one was the Rwenkunyu-Masindi Port-Apac-Lira-Puranga-Acholibur road that will be funded by the Islamic Development Bank,” Museveni said.

He also said over the last ten years, Government has constructed 4,360 kms of low voltage power lines, 7,716 kms of medium voltage distribution lines and1, 000 kms of very high voltage transmission lines.

The Development Partners in a joint statement thanked Government for taking into account the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the planning process.

They also committed themselves to continue supporting Government in its efforts to increase levels of accountability in the management of public finances and stamping out corruption.

“We applaud the Government’s commitment to progressively increase its funding to the senior citizens grant and urge that this is prioritised to ensure that more elderly people are able to benefit from the programme,” the statement read.

The Chairman of the Private sector Foundation Uganda, Patrick Bitature urged Government to focus attention on increasing production and productivity for export, job creation and the purchasing power of Ugandan consumers.

“Uganda continues to register fairly high rates of growth and single digit inflation inspite of the many challenges we have experienced through the year,” Bitature said.

The national budget conference was attended by Ministers, Ministers of State, Development Partners, Heads of government agencies, representatives of the local governments, Academicians and Members of the Private Sector.


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