12 suspended as Makerere University students protest blended learning

Written by: 
Nickson Maberi

12 Makerere University students have been suspended over participating in a protest against bended learning. The students protested against the institution's blended system of teaching on Monday 7th February, 2022 an act that led to the suspension of some students by Vice Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe.

Students led by their guild president, Shamim Nambassa brought business at Uganda's premier university to a standstill as they carried placards and sang Makerere's famous strike chant 'wee-wee'. The protest came after futile attempts to convince Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe to revise the decision on blended learning.

The Monday unrest that attracted scores of protestors later turned into a nightmare for some students as they were indefinitely suspended from the university for involving themselves in 'acts of hooliganism'.

Prior to their suspension, the students had been arrested and detained at Wandegega police station and upon release, they were welcomed  by more trouble as they were issued suspension letters.

According to the University rules and regulations, rule 11(iv), a student may be suspended from the hall or university if found guilty of any offence that is likely to cause breach of peace. This includes but not limited to inciting other students for unlawful action, blocking roads, throwing stones, among others.

Prof. Nawangwe, who vowed to suspend more students disrupting peace at the university, asserts that the university will not change its position on the mode of teaching for semester one, academic year 2021/2022 despite protests from students. According to Nawangwe, the university had already planned and budgeted for the semester.

“First, it should be noted that the decision to continue with the blended model of teaching and learning was taken before the full re-opening of the economy. Therefore, all arrangements for the first semester and subsequent approvals by Senate and Council were made against this background,” Nawangwe said.

Nawangwe further tarnished the survey made by the 87th guild in which says over 70% of students are vaccinated. According to him, only 20% of the students’ population is vaccinated as per the report from the university hospital, yet vaccination is a requisite to full reopening of the institution. Nawangwe said they are doing their best to vaccinate all students and have the institution open for all hopefully by the start of the second semester.

“In order to achieve this, we have made arrangements to vaccinate all students against COVID-19. Currently, only 20% of the students are vaccinated. In the meantime, we will continue with blended learning. I, therefore, encourage all students to strongly desist from all attempts to disrupt University activities, under the pretext of demanding the full reopening of the University,” he said.

Students suspended await a hearing by the disciplinary committee that shall either revoke or concur with VC Nawangwe's decision to have them suspended.