A section of Makerere students on Monday went on strike, protesting the recently increased tuition and the newly introduced academic and financial system (AIMS).
At around 8am, the strikinmg students took to the streets of the university shouting and demanding for the reduction of the tuition and the removal of the Academic Information Management System (AIMs), terming it complicated and intolerant.
Tuition was increased by 15% at the start of this academic year 2018/19, with the university administration assuring that the policy will not affect continuing students but rather the joining students. According to the university, the increment is cumulative – it will recur for five years.
A group of forty students started off the strike from Lumumba Hall and headed to Sir Apollo Kagwa road shouting, "Fees must fall". Transport flow was interrupted with stones placed in the roads. The cars that refused to stop were hit tby the striking students.
Whoever the striking students found on their way was forced to join the struggle. This was mainly visible around Lumumba Hall and Sir Apollo Kagwa road.
Nelson Bahati, a student of Bachelor of Journalism and Communication said he would bear with the fees increment but the terms that came with it – in particular the AIMS system makes them sick, with its lengthy procedures.
The move was spearheaded by government-sponsored students whose functional fees increased from 145,000/= to over 167,000/=. This is a move that is not fully elaborated in the new tuition policy. Students reacted bitterly to the move terming it unfair and discriminative to students hailing from humble backgrounds. My attempt to reach the Vice Chancellor failed as I was told he was abroad, and the university remained mute over this matter.
The anger was directed mostly to the Guild President, Papa Were Salim whom they say betrayed them for his personal gains, because the increment was supported by the student leadership. Rumors have been circulating that Were might have been bribed to have the law signed on behalf of the student’s community.
“It is very unfortunate, our future in education is unpredictable, “ said Patrick Lutaaya, a first year student of Bachelor of Journalism and Communication.
However, police was deployed to cool the strike, and remains deployed in key university installations as well as the entances.