Complaints Among 'External Students' as Mak Reopens

Students on external programmes at Makerere are unsure of their fate their fate as the university reopened following two months of closure. Over 3000 students on external programmes missed out on their face to face learning after the university was closed in November last year.
Makerere University students during a tuition sensitization seminar before the university was closed.

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Students on external programmes at Makerere are unsure of their fate their fate as the university reopened following two months of closure.

According to the December 28 document issued by the University Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu, students were to report on January 2nd and immediately start lectures, finish payment of tuition by January 16, and then start exams on January 30.

But Penelope Ainomugisha, a third year Bachelor of Commerce External student told URN that since the semester began, they have not seen any lecturer for their face to face tests. She noted that they are not yet sure of where their lectures are going to be held.

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Rachael Twinobusingye, a first year Bachelor of Commerce External student told URN that by the closure of the University on November 1, 2016, first year students had finished their face to face lectures. External programmes usually have two weeks of face-to-face learning or lectures and thereafter do private reading and research.

“We have face to face and private lectures; face to face are the two weeks where we have an interface with lecturers after which we do private reading and lectures. Right now we have reported but we have to pay a private person to take us through the notes and hand outs,” Twinobusingye said.

Twinobusingye says each student pays 1,000 shillings per day to attend the lecture. "Our lecturers are former best students of the course who offer to teach us at an extra cost,” she adds

Twinobusingye says that in their first year, they found the situation like this and are only hoping for better conditions.

Samuel Kikabi, a third year student told URN that their programmes are done in phases due to space constraints and lack of lecturers.

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Makerere University offers about 10 external courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Among others, courses include Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Agriculture and Rural Innovation, and Master of Adult and Community Education (MACE).

In addition to Shillings 1.18 million paid by each Bachelor of Commerce External student as tuition and functional fees, a student is also required to pay an additional fee privately to teachers.

When contacted to comment on students studying from churches in the suburbs east of Makerere University, Nazarius Turyakira, a lecturer and the head of Department of Open and Distance Learning denied having knowledge on the arrangement.

“We don't have a programme for this semester yet but we are having a meeting today and possibly we shall get back to you later. But I am not aware of the students who study from a church,” Turyakira said.

Samuel Kikabi however confirmed that students study from the church but attributed it to the turmoil that had covered the university before its reopening.

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The abrupt closure of the university made over 3,000 students on the external programmes miss out on their face to face programmes with their lecturers. The students report two weeks before a normal semester begins, and this time they call it face to face where they are being taught. After two weeks, students break off for their private reading but they go with content including hand outs among others. The students come back after one month for another face to face where they sit for tests.