Students will from August 2014 academic year start outsourcing meals from the outside catering services such as restaurants, the University Council has announced. According to a February 7th communiqué from the Dean’s office, no student will be getting meals from the halls. “As communicated to you at the end of last semester, the university is in the process of divesting itself from catering services to students. This will start at the beginning of semester one 2104 i.e. in August 2014/2015,” read part of the statement that was copied to the Vice chancellor, DVCs, University secretary and Bursar, Academic registrar, Wardens, the guild president and all notice boards. Students were urged to for the coming changes in the course of this semester. The University’s stand is that feeding students has increasingly become expensive amidst the rising food prices. Whereas the government has failed to increase the money it pays for its students and yet costs of food have skyrocketed. Since any fees increment would provoke the parents and students into taking up arms, the University feels more secure to lease off some of these responsibilities to reduce expenses. However according to Mr. Felix Obunguta, the campus affairs minister, out sourcing meals is a step in the long process of privatizing the university halls of residence. “The proposed privatization of catering services in the University is meant to pave way for the Halls of residence. We all know the risk this poses to most students who struggle financially,” Obunguta said in his Sunday February 16 Facebook post on the Makerere University Guild page. “I ask you (students) to keep alert and participate in the strategic process that seeks the best for the Makerereans (regarding this issue),” he added. It is not clear how this will operate and it is also uncertain whether students will be allowed to cook from the halls of residence. However, discussions of the details, according to the communiqué, are ongoing. The implication Once this proposal is assented to by Council, government students shall be receiving 2,000/= to cater for meals daily on the 240,000 government pays for each government sponsored student’s meals. The cheapest meal in Kikumi-kikumi and Kikoni, both Makerere suburbs is 2000 shillings, meaning that government funded students shall have to forego two meals a day as opposed to the three (breakfast, lunch and supper) they currently get from the university. Meanwhile, private students stopped accessing meals from the halls at the end of the 2012/2013 academic year.
By Davidson Ndyabahika