Government sponsored students at Makerere University may have to wait a bit longer for their allowances after the university authorities deliberately used the funds to pay striking lecturers’ arrears.
According to sources that preferred anonymity, university top officials held a financial management meeting in the Senior Common Room on Tuesday to chart a way forward for lecturers who had suspended evening classes over unpaid incentives and allowances.
In the meeting that was also attended by Mr Bruce Kabaasa, the chairman university’s appointments board committee, the issue of Living Out Allowance (LOA) for government sponsored students was tackled and left hanging because the urgency of the lecturers’ issue.
“They discussed the issue of allowances but it was agreed upon that money for government sponsored students, since it was already on the university’s account, can be used to pay the pressing issue of incentives. Remember yesterday was the deadline that was given by Law School lecturers and those in journalism department to have their arrears paid or they stop teaching evening students,” the source said.
To prove this, a lecturer from the department of Journalism and Communication told this writer that the strike had been called off since their money was now being wired to their accounts as they had demanded.
The source added that officials resolved that LOA will now be discussed later as the university waits for internally-generated funds from fees paid by students.
However, according to media reports, the University Bursar, Augustine Tamale, had last week confirmed the receipt of the money from government to pay LOA. But up to date, the over 2,000 students are yet to receive it
A week ago, the dean of students, Cyriaco Kabagambe, wrote to wardens of all halls of residence directing them to ask for students mobile money numbers, arguing that the payment system had changed from use of bank accounts to E-Wallet system.
Several students PML Daily interviewed confirmed that they registered their numbers. Though after a few days, another communication circulated indicating that the new system would take effect beginning next academic year 2018/2019.
At Makerere and other public universities, students on government scholarship (non residents) get allowances to cater for their meals and accommodation. Those who opt to have lunch from the campus get about Shs630,000 while those who don’t take a meal get Shs770,000.
This allowance is normally given to students three weeks following the commencement of the first semester and a fortnight after the second semester.
However, this time, students say the money has taken close to a month now. Efforts to get comments from top officials were futile as our repeated calls were not answered.
Thousands of the beneficiaries are stranded on the rentals and hostels outside campus since by admission, they aren’t allowed to reside in the university’s halls of residence.
Francis Ainomugisha, a second year student at the school of Education, said the delay has caused serious challenges for him.
“Because our parents know that we get money for accommodation and meals, they don’t give us enough money. Now I had told the landlord that I would pay after three weeks but today is the end of the fourth week. I don’t know where I will sleep,” Ainomugisha said.
Ainenomugisha’s story is similar a many others who are waiting for LOA funds to clear rental and accommodation bills.