KAMPALA – MPs and Ministers have disagreed on the National Graduate Scheme Bill, 2018, a privately sponsored Bill seeking to place graduates to public and private institutions for training and enhance their employability.
The Bill was tabled by Hon. Waira Kyewalabye Majegere (Ind. Bunya County East) in January this year. It seeks to provide the mechanism of bridging the gap between university education and employment opportunities and to provide a mechanism through which patriotism, volunteerism, discipline and professional attributes can be implemented.
Presenting the Report of the Committee on Gender about the Bill, committee Chairperson, Hon. Alex Ndeezi (NRM, PWD Central) said that there is need to emphasize the scheme as a service with several voluntary schemes.
He was observed that the Bill is silent on stipend allowance for graduates to cover their lunch and transport.
“The committee recommends that graduates be provided a stipend allowance of at least Shs370,000 per month,” he said.
Hon. Rosemary Nauwat (Ind. Amudat District) said that the programme will boost the confidence of graduates thereby increasing their employability.
Hon. James Waluswaka (NRM, Bunyole West) advised government against politicizing the programme saying that it should benefit all graduates.
Minister of State for Health, Sarah Opendi, however, raised concern over the recommendation to pay graduates a stipend, saying that the internship programme for medical doctors has faced challenges with interns striking and demanding for better pay.
“Even if this is supposed to be voluntary, we have over 4,000 graduates and I know that over time, they will demand for pay because they will be providing service to institutions. We need to be clear on this and I would have appreciated if Ministry of Public Service is here and provide professional advice,” she said.
Minister of State for Primary Education, Hon. Rosemary Seninde, called for more research on the graduate scheme programme.
“If these graduates are placed in public or private institutions, the government will be compelled to pay the stipend from the consolidated fund. But under what law shall we compel the private institutions to pay the graduates,” she said.
She added that the Bill segregates because it caters only for university graduates, leaving out certificate and diploma holders.
“I do not support the Bill and this is the genuine concern of Ministry of Education and government,” she said.
Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Janat Mukwaya, withdrew her support for the Bill arguing that it deviated from her understanding.
Mukwaya added that the object of the Bill is not clear because it includes promoting national service together with acquiring employment skills which will not be practical in implementation.
“I request that we are given more time. I supported him because he is making a political point but the implementation of the Bill in this form is not possible,” Mukwaya said.
The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah directed the Ministers to meet with the mover of the Bill and the committee chair to harmonise their positions.