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Makerere council approves STEM affirmative action policy

The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni (Right) receives a plaque from the Chairperson Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara (Left) during Day1 of the 69th Graduation Ceremony, 15th January 2019, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The Makerere University Council during its 147th Meeting last week approved the Affirmative Action Policy providing for a 40 percent enrollment quota for female students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The policy was referred to Senate by Council at the 142nd meeting and following its discussion, was submitted as a policy recommendation to Council at the 147th meeting, where it was subsequently approved.

This approval marks yet another landmark by Makerere University towards fostering gender equality in STEM in the region.

This bold step by the University Council also contributes particularly towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on Gender Equality and SDG 8 on Decent work and economic growth.

Commenting on the development, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said, “I wish to applaud Makerere University Council for approving the policy on affirmative action for women in STEM. The policy ring-fences 40% of vacancies in all STEM disciplines for women. This is a Great Leap Forward for Makerere University.”

Recent tracer studies by the National Council for Higher Education reveal that STEM graduates are far more likely to find employment in their first year of graduation compared to their counterparts in the humanities. Moreover, Uganda’s development pathways as enshrined in the second National Development Plan and Vision2040 suggest that labour demand growth in the foreseeable future will be concentrated in sectors requiring STEM related skills.

The Acting University Secretary and Secretary to Makerere University Council, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda noted that encouraging female students enrollment in STEM is a commendable step towards fostering labour market inclusion for women.

“You may want to note that during their adoption, the SDGs were billed by then Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as the ‘development agenda which leaves no one behind.’ Makerere University’s recently approved STEM policy is exactly a step in that direction. I am deeply excited to note that once again, Makerere University is leading the path toward Gender Equality Promotion” enthused Mr. Kiranda.

By putting Affirmative Action for female students in STEM into policy, Makerere is working to foster gender equality not only internally within the University but also externally through expanding opportunities for women to engage in the economic fabric of the Ugandan society.

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