President Yoweri Museveni commended Makerere University for fostering development by promoting science and technology.
“I commend Makerere University, especially the science arm. Faculty of Engineering, Food Science is doing well. ICT department is also doing something, I encourage them to go deeper into what they are doing,” said the president.
General Museveni made the remarks during the grand finale of Makerere University’s centenary celebrations held at the institution’s Freedom Square on Thursday, October 6, 2022.
The event was the culmination of the centenary commemoration that has been taking place since last year in November.
Opening its doors to just 14 students in 1922, Makerere University has become one of the most prestigious universities in Africa and the world.
President Museveni said that the primacy of socio-economic change is the development of science and technology.
“The primacy of social change is technology and innovation,” he stressed.
He quoted the book of Genesis and explained that when God created man and gave him the original mandate to establish dominion over nature, he meant that man discovers and manipulates the laws of nature. , which include, among others, gravity and heat, for its benefit to.
He wondered why it took the human race 300 million years for Africans to invent fire only about 150 million years ago; and why soon after, Africans gave up on scientific discovery that exposed them to colonialist manipulation when they finally invaded Africa.
He appreciated the science and technology faculties and applauded the administrators for putting more emphasis on research and innovation.
“When God created human beings, He said you multiply and fill the earth. This one Africans are doing very well but also establishing dominance over nature. Remember that God created man in his own image,” he said.
“Therefore, I commend the Faculty of Science/Medicine at Makerere University; these are at least in line with God to establish dominion over nature. Science and technology faculties are also trying,” the president added.
President Museveni further said that he decided to allocate 70% of the education sector budget to science because of its progress and outstanding role in promoting social and economic change in Uganda.
“Recently I raised the salaries of science teachers and there was an outcry, but now we are doing well. Science is the primacy of all social change. If we did not live in science, we would not exist. Therefore, either you disappear or you survive at the mercy of others. When God still keeps me to lead the Ugandans, I will not allow this,” he said.
“Science is the way to go because if we want to live in the modern world we have to deal with prosperity issues and you can’t prosper unless you produce more goods. Look at the Japanese, they don’t have much of resources but they are the third richest in the world. Why? Because they produce goods and we give them money and they become rich.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, commended the President and Government of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) for budgeting and funding infrastructure development at Makerere University which has enabled the institution to accommodate many learners at the same time.
He, however, called on the alumni of the university to contribute to the development and expansion of the university.
“When you go to the western world, former students put their universities in their wills. So alumni, we should give back and I will start with an example,” said Hon Tayebwa.
He also asked President Museveni to consider changing the government sponsorship program in public universities so that it benefits the poor and not the rich who can afford to pay tuition themselves.
“Why should my child benefit from a Makerere scholarship? he wondered.
The Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Ezra Suruma indicated that the growth and maturity that Makerere University has achieved over the 100 years of existence can serve as an example for other institutions to support and better serve Ugandans.
Despite the existing challenges, Prof. Suruma revealed that Makerere University’s current rankings show that public institutions can truly serve and achieve excellence.
“Strong institutions are indeed a fundamental prerequisite for promoting better services across all sectors in Uganda. The provision of quality services in public institutions remains a major challenge in our country. I sincerely pray that Makerere University leads the way in providing quality services,” he added.
The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe has recognized the NRM government led by President Museveni for its enormous contribution to the development of Makerere University.
“The support of the NRM government has been essential and constant. We sincerely appreciate you for your visionary leadership. The government’s 30 billion shillings research and innovation fund supported Makerere. Although it is not enough, it is a good start,” Professor Nawangwe said.
“Makerere University has managed to thrive in diversity. Indeed, no one believed that a university that started with 14 barefoot students would thrive to become one of the best universities in the world,” he added.
“Makerere has risen from tough times to become a top university in Uganda, East Africa and the world at large. Construction of our landmark building has also begun after all requirements were approved by the cabinet chaired by you, Your Excellency.
The Minister of State for Higher Education, Hon. JC Muyingo, who represented the Minister of Education, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni, challenged Makerere University to come up with local solutions to solve Uganda’s problems and drive national transformation.
“As a government, we are committed to supporting you in this endeavour. The government provides 30 billion shillings to Makerere for research and innovation in priority areas. Indeed, the future is bright as Makerere finds local solutions to the challenges facing our country,” said Hon. Muyingo said while reading Hon. Janet’s statement verbatim.
Former Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Mondo Kagonyera commended the President for promoting science education in Uganda.
“We all know that everyone contributes to the development of this country but in a way other sciences had been neglected. Thank you for the conscious decision to support science. This should be supported by everyone,” Prof Kagonyera noted.
The Chairman of the Central Organizing Committee of [email protected] and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Makerere University, Mr. Dan Fred Kidega expressed his gratitude to President Museveni for his strategic support to Makerere University.
He said the government of President Museveni has provided research funds over the years which have made the institution a leading center of academic excellence in Uganda and around the world.
The event was also attended by Prime Minister Emeritus, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Monica Musenero, Archbishop Church of Uganda, Dr Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, the NRM General Secretary, Hon. Richard Todwong, Executive Director of KCCA, Ms. Dorothy Kisaka, senior officers from security agencies, among other local and foreign dignitaries.