Sunday, 26 July 2009

Uganda Talks and Barya Interview

As expected July has been an incredibly busy month with the launch of Uganda Talks. We seem to be making good progress and the reader figures are very encouraging. If anyone has any ideas on how we could improve they would be much appreciated.

Returning to Makerere issues, I did an interview a few weeks ago with one of the Vice-Chancellor candidates, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba. He is the current Dean of the ICT faculty and has proposed a whole host of reforms to restore Makerere to its former position as one of the most respected universities in Africa. An extract:

JP: Now for the question everyone is asking, you are the youngest ever Dean at Makerere, can you be the youngest ever Vice-Chancellor?

VB: I am the only one who is qualified. As somebody who has been in the administration system since 2001 I know a lot that goes on in Makerere. I know what works and what doesn’t work. I can tell you the type of VC that Makerere needs is somebody who is of course a Professor with excellent academic credentials, but you must also have other talents. For example you have a limited budget from Government so you need to have money from other sources. Somebody must have that entrepreneurship and an idea of how the private sector works. However, the best way to change Makerere is not to rely on the VC but sort out the whole top system. The VC is just one position. We have a lot of redundant staff at Makerere in positions that don’t know what is going on.

JP: So you would be merging administrative departments, removing some academic departments, raising fees and removing some staff. Do you think you’re too radical for Makerere?

VB: That is not all! There is also duplication of academic programmes, duplication of services and unnecessary recruitment. If you look at the visitation committee report all these things were highlighted. The only issue is what do you start with? You have to have a strategy to say what comes first. For example duplicated academic programmes can be handled immediately and we will get a lot of savings. But you cannot say these are radical issues so we never handle them. Look at South Africa, look at the UK, their universities had problems and the government came in and restructured the institutions.