Jun 26, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

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Degree saga puts Kenya, Uganda institutions on spot

The controversy surrounding Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja’s graduation certificate has reignited debate over Kenyans’ rush to acquire credentials from Ugandan institutions.

Some of the credentials have become particular in recent years well awarded to prominent politicians, have been faced with questions as to their validity and authenticity, leading to either court proceedings or even scrutiny by government agencies.

Once regarded as a haven of academic excellence, due to the high caliber graduates graduating from some of its institutions such as the prestigious Makerere University, a number of institutions emerging in the country, have scrutinized the credentials they issue to students.

Read: Petitioners: Wavinya’s degree is fake

The rush to colleges and institutions in Uganda is largely tailored with the relaxed admissions requirements programs for students, distance learning, the privacy that some of these institutions offer, and the ease associated with it and fast money offered by foreign students. These, some experts argue, have made it an attractive destination for most Kenyans, including politicians.

Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, a Ugandan mathematician and lecturer, told the Saturday Nation that a number of institutions in Uganda have been innovative in attracting foreign learners.

“Uganda has long been known for its higher education. But what has happened is that over time, institutions have also found new and innovative ways to attract students, such as former Acting Vice-Chancellor of Uganda Technology and Management University.

“We also have cases where institutions also promise privacy to their students, which is attractive to most politicians. Then the online programs mean you can only come to school to take certain courses, which is more convenient for many foreign learners,” he said.

Read more:The fall of Johnson Sakaja

These new and attractive strategies have been largely attributed to the rise in the number of private universities and colleges in the country, which are continually trying to attract more students to find new ways to study to stay relevant.

But experts say this has come at a price, as some of these offerings, like the relaxed entry requirements, have secured underperforming students and even politicians entry into universities and colleges.

For example, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, who was said to have been admitted to Kampala University with a D grade in KCSE exams, raised eyebrows.

Both Mr Joho and the governor by Wajir, Mohamed Abdi, have been accused of a n having earned a degree from Kampala University, despite lacking the grades required for an ad mission. Mr. Sakaja, on the other hand, is said to have attended his classes virtually before receiving his degree in management (external) from the little-known Team University.

Mr. Fagil Mandy, an education expert and former government official in Uganda, said that the increase in the number of private institutions in the country has gone hand in hand with the good and the bad.

Read: Fake testimonials? Politicians with questionable scientific work

He believes this is due to proper oversight leading some of these institutions to flout the rules in conducting their affairs. Uganda has about 30 private universities, according to government records, while there are six public universities.

“It has always been the policy of the Ugandan government that more private institutions should be allowed to practice. But that can also come with some weaknesses like little government oversight. This has led to some of the cases we are currently witnessing,” Mr Mandy, the former chair of the Uganda National Examination Board, told the nation.

As per regulations governing the establishment and operation of private universities and Colleges in Uganda, accreditation of institutions can only be granted after they have met a set of regulations set by the government.

These include specifying the name of the university, its location, subject and functions, membership, administrative and academic structures, officers, methods of disciplining staff, methods of student admissions, and sources of funding among others.

But some are also known to flout some of these regulations, making loud statements Prof. Baryamureeba is a total violation of the law.

“It is true that some of our institutions sometimes admit students even without complying with e To adhere to some of the guidelines set by the government, which leads to pollution of some of the reputations that many institutions have built,” Prof Baryamureeba said. Mr Sakaja is accused of earning a bachelor’s degree from Team University in Uganda without formally and physically attending classes and graduating from the institution. This emerges from a petition brought before a tribunal set up by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Curiously, the university has since deactivated its official website. Previous information on the website indicated that the institution was founded in 2001 with the aim of providing training in specialized accounting courses.

Its founders, according to information previously accessed on the website, are Tushabomwe David, Balikuddembe Joseph Kigongo and Rugaba Sam Kindyomunda described as accountants. It was then named the Team Business College before being upgraded to a university in 2010.

MP-nominee Godfrey Otsotsi told the nation that the reason politicians favor places like Uganda is the lack of oversight by the government.

“Some of them believe that the accreditation system there is much weaker than in Kenya or even Tanzania,” said Mr. Otsotsi.

According to Ugandan universities and others Universities Institutions Act 2001, an institution violating, among other things, the code of conduct in teaching and awarding certificates could be de-registered by the government.

Prof. Macharia Munene, Lecturer in International Relations in the United States The International University Africa believes the increase in questionable credentials may be due to the negligence of the authorities in Kenya.

“There is a tremendous breakdown in some of our systems , and that’s why you see some of these cases recurring, despite repeated government pledges to crack down on suspects,” said Prof. Macharia Munene, Associate Professor of International Relations.

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