Makerere Commissions New students’ hostel at Nyabyeya Forest College
The new students' hostel that was commissioned on 29th July, 2016
- Building was initially funded by NORAD and completed by Makerere University
- Field Stations want their relationship with Makerere University formalized
- Field sites ready to offer more land & facilities to Makerere for staff and students’ accommodation and a plantation forest for training
Makerere University has officially opened the new students’ hostel at Nyabyeya Forest College in Masindi district. The hostel was commissioned by the Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) represented by the Deputy Dean of Students Mr. Stephen Katega on 29th -30th July, 2016.
The function was attended by the University Bursar Mr. Augustine Tamale, and the Director Works and Estates Department represented by Mr. KawanyaraJulius. Also present was the Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Science (CAES) Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, CAES management and administrative staff.
The Principal CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha and the DVC(F&A) representative Mr. Stephen Katega commissioning the hostel
The commissioning coincided with the recess term activities and provided an opportunity to the visiting team to tour the facilities at Nyabyeya Forest College and Budongo Conservation Field Station and appreciate the training needs for forestry so that management decisions especially concerning finances are taken from an informed position. It was also an opportunity for the CAES and university top management to interact with forestry students and staff on recess term to share their experiences and clarify on issues that require attention o management.
Every year, students undertaking courses in forestry and related courses are dispatched to Nyabyeya Forest College and Budongo Conservation Field Station for field practical, recess term and internship. Makerere University does not own land at Nyabyeya Forest College but the two institutions have had long informal relationship in terms of training forest students.
Students on recess term sitting along the road as part of the university team move to the new hostel to commission
In 2003, NORAD supported Makerere University and built a new students’ hostel that was completed in 2007 to provide accommodation for students on recess term and internship. Later, the building was gutted by fire but was not insured. NORAD conditioned Makerere University to reconstruct the building. The university took over the reconstruction under the supervision of the Estates and works department.
While opening the new hostel, Makerere University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor represented by Mr. Stephen Katega thanked NORAD for initially funding the project and Makerere University for rehabilitating the building into use.
“If we don’t look after this facility well, it will not last. Users must set a good example to keep the building in good shape so that it lives on for other generations to come”. Mr. Katega advised.
Mr. Stephen Katega speaking to staff and students a moment before commissioning the hostel
Mr. Katega advised students to take the practical training seriously to gain the much needed experience and practical skills.
“There is no supermarket that sells experience. If you need experience in walking, you do not take a lift, you have to walk until you reach to the top. You are in the right place and doing the right course so, love it”. He advised.
Quoting the book of Genesis: 5:20 and Galatians: 6:7 Mr. Katega told students that: “ when we plant we harvest, there is seed time and harvest time but if you think you wont work and eat, it will become bitter”. He cautioned students.
The Principal Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Prof. Bernard Bashaasha thanked the Norwegian government for the support, and Makerere University for mobilizing resources to complete the building ready for occupation.
Principal CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha speaking to staff and students during a joint meeting.
Prof. Bashaasha also thanked Management of Nyabyeya Forest College for the warm welcome and accepting to patner with Makerere University.
“We value our relationship and we are going to work on formalizing it. We have already signed an MoU with the Ministry of Water and Environment and I think we have started with the parent Ministry. We are thinking innovatively about our affiliation. We need more space for the hostel and we appreciate the initiatives” The Principal said.
Prof. Bashaasha also said that the CAES has a number of projects and would like to see how to work together with Nyabyeya Forest College. He appreciated the Principal Nyabyeya Forest College and entire staff for building the capacity of the university students.
A section of the students during the joint meeting
“The best resource we have is our people. The job you are doing for us is a noble course and the right business. Students, we want to train you, we think about you, please take this opportunity seriously. Think about your country, what you can do and make Uganda the best place, the Professor advised.
The Dean, Makerere University School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences Prof. Manson Tweheyo commended the University’s Estates and Works Department for the works supervision and Makerere University for funding the project from her internally generated funds.
“The reconstruction cost bout shs. 700 million. The hostel has the capacity of accommodating 60 students but this capacity is not adequate. Right here, we have only first year students and the hostel is being occupied by female students only. We have more than 300 students and others are staying in the forest”, The Dean reported.
Prof. Tweheyo briefing staff about the new students' hostel
'Prof. Tweheyo said the school and management of Nyabyeya Forest College and Budongo Conservation Field Station have been involved in talks for a long time about strengthening the relationship and to avail more facilities like land for the student’s hostel and lecturers’ accommodation.
“Formal Partnership is what is missing. This time, we shall put it in writing and ensure that next year, Makerere finishes its part. I promise that by end of August, 2016, we shall have a draft. We shall include that Makerere will plant a plantation forest on 10 acres but it will be jointly managed with Nyabyeya Forest College. We shall acquire space for students’ accommodation and staff houses”, the Dean said.
The Ag. Principal Nyabyeya Forest College Mr. Kisakye Richard said the college has been having informal collaboration with Makerere University since 1970’s.
“This collaboration should not be taken for granted. We collaborate with many institutions. Kyambogo and Busitema universities want a relationship with us and we have already signed Memoranda of Understanding with NFA and a similar institution in Sweden”, he said.
Mr. Kisakye Richard addressing staff and students during the joint meeting
Mr. Kisakye said the college boosts of a number of facilities including 130 hectares of tropical forest, 150 hectares of plantation forest, a saw mill, an apiary, a carpentry workshop and tree nurseries for training foresters among others.
“In total, we have 350 hectares of land. We informally allocated Makerere University land for staff houses uphill. We have more land we can give Makerere for four hostels but we are requesting that we sign somewhere to make it formal. Start drafting something we can share and formalize later”, The Ag. Principal Nyabyeya Forest College pledged.
While touring the students’ accommodation facilities at Budongo Conservation Field Station, the Head of Department of Forestry, Tourism and Bio diversity Makerere University, Prof. Philip Nyeko said forestry is a factual discipline and no forester can claim to have been trained without being in the forest.
Prof. Philip Nyeko explaining to the team about forestry training
Prof. Nyeko said Nyabyeya Forest College and Budongo Conservation Forest are key institutions that cannot be delinked from Makerere University.
“For us in forestry, there is no single year we have failed to come to Nyabyeya Forest College and Budongo Conservation Field Station. Many of the colleagues in this institutions are children of Makerere implying that our efforts should be to consolidate and improve on the relationship and fast track the formalization of this relationship rather that postponing to the next generation”. Prof. Nyeko stated.
Makerere University is a squatter at Budongo Conservation Field Station. The university uses the facilities of the field site free of charge to accommodate students and staff during the recess term and internship activities. The stations also oversees the maintenance of the students’ accommodation site.
The team touring the students accomodation site with the university Bursar at Budongo Conservation Field station
“The main players are the foresters who have played a key role in this relationship. If the policy changes at Makerere University and the department gets another head, it would be disaster. So we need an MoU”, Prof. Nyeko observed.
The Co-ordinator Budongo Conservation Field station Prof. Fred Babweteera said the relationship between Makerere University and Budongo Conservation Field Station is historical and based on individual friendship.
“This block is about 100 hactares and in the Management plan we designated it for special research interests and NFA would be interested in seeing a bigger role played by Makerere University”. Prof. Babweteera went on to say that:
“The idea is to formalize and have a plan how the site can be refurbished to serve the interests of the stakeholders. Now that the facility has secured funding for the next 15 years, Makerere should supplement funding to develop the site.” he said.
Prof. Fred Babweteera(R) explaining MAK relationship with the Budongo Conservation Field station
Prof. Babweetera also said that the there is a structure that require repair which Makerere university can invest in to convert it to the Makerere staff house to accommodate lecturers during research and recess term activities.
The other facilities that require upgrading include the staff and student accommodation, kitchen, lecture space, dinning and students’ hall. The site has two blocks used as dormitories but due to the number of students, majority build tents in the compound. The big tree is used as a dining hall as well as a lecturer room. Other important things required are water storage facilities, electricity, toilets and bathrooms, truck for transportation of food, firewood and buses for field work .
The team touring the students' accomodation site at Budongo Conservation site
Mr . Katega Stephen sitting in one of the facilities used as a dinning and lecture hall during recess term at Budongo
“If the facilities are there, there are many universities bringing students for summer courses and this would be a good opportunity for Makerere University to collaborate with oversees universities to strengthen the research component”, Prof. Babweteera said.
In the meeting with the University Bursar Mr. Augustine Tamale held at the Budongo Conservation Field site, a number of issues affecting the recess term and internship activities and the quality of training were discussed.
This include the facing out of the BSc. Forestry program that affected the quality, the reduction of recess term period from 13 weeks in the past to 10 weeks, inadequate, delayed and fractional release of funds and the practice of allocating funds basing on the previous year. Other issues were, non-consideration of transport for recess term activities in the university budget, confusion between in-semester practical and recess term and inadequate accommodation facilities. Others were the need to bring tourism and geography students for training at the field sites and lack of funds for external examiners.
The visiting team holding a meeting with the university bursar in the dinning/lecture hall in Budongo
The University Bursar Mr. Augustine Tamale said the field visit had provided insight into the problems and the dynamics of forestry training which will inform his discussions in management meetings.
Mr. Tamale added that the critical issue was to revise the way the university has been making its budget and make sure that the academic aspect is number one priority.
“The university must secure the academic aspect first and that is the direction I want to go. I have already drawn up a strategy and I am pushing for more support. We are pertinent about recess term and internship and nobody will divert me because we have to produce quality students. I have understood better, the field trips and what they are for. I will be able to separate the funding”. Mr. Tamale pledged.
The University Bursar Mr. Augustine Tamale speaking to the visiting team
The Bursar informed members that the university is changing its accounting system from spending at source to remittances of all revenues to a consolidated account and government will be giving money for all quarter in advance. This he said, will address issues like budget cutting, fractioning and late release of funds.
“All money received including Kabanyolo don not touch! If you touch, you are in problems. Tell us how much you collect and we give you for that quarter. So, we are going to give money in blocks and not fractions’. Mr. Tamale explained.
The University Bursar also said he had understood better the partnership issue and will put it forward to management. He also promised that the issue on external examiners will be improved and the need to bring tourism and geography students for training will be considered.
Mr. Tamale told members that the university has drawn long term strategies to improve the financial status of the university. This include setting up of hostels on campus, looking at adequate courses that can generate income, setting up the students’center with various facilities and services and other commercial units, investing in the Endowment Fund and aligning university priorities right and ensure that people are paid in time.
Report compiled by:
Communication Officer CAES