By Ronald Nahabwe
Mbarara: President Yoweri Museveni on Thursday inaugurated the University of Saint Joseph, Mbarara (USJM), and contributed Shs200m towards the construction of a 3-storeyed building that the institution is erecting on Nyamitanga hill, in Mbarara Municipality.
President Museveni attended the University’s inauguration ceremony hours before he flew to Zimbabwe for a state visit on Thursday. During the fundraising drive, Shs400m was realised out of nearly Shs8Bn that is required to erect the complex, which will accommodate lecture halls, science laboratories, workshops and required specialized equipment. The institution admitted its 215 pioneer students in August last year in various academic disciplines of Business Administration, Information Communication Technology (ICT) as well as Primary and Secondary Education degree courses. The University plans new academic programmes such as Bachelor of Agriculture and Extension Management to help the local community undertake profitable production ventures using modern methods, Nursing focusing on child health care, Medical Laboratory Technology, Primary Health Care, Environmental Science, Technology and Engineering. President Museveni urged the business community not to get tired but to continue contributing willingly as he mobilizes more financial resources to ensure that the biggest portion of the remaining project is covered. “Part of this Shs. 8 billion, Shs800 million is in form of taxes. Government will find a way of how to subsidize it. The total of Shs.400 million realised today is just a drop in the ocean out of a balance of about Shs.5.5 billion. I, therefore, urge the business community not to tire but to contribute more willingly as I also mobilise for more to complete the biggest portion remaining,” he said.
The National Council for Higher Education granted the university a working license in November 2017 to operate as a private institution. Part of the fundraising occasion saw President Museveni also install Mbarara Archbishop, Paul Bakyenga, as first Chancellor of the institution. “I congratulate His Grace Archbishop Bakyenga for being installed as the first Chancellor for the University. He is not being installed by virtue of his position in Church. But more importantly, it is because of his effort that we are all here. Together we win,” he said. President Museveni commended the efforts of Archbishop Bakyenga for the development made in terms of educational institutions for the community on Nyamitanga hill. He observed that the University of St. Joseph, Mbarara is going to give knowledge to more Ugandans. He further commended Archbishop Bakyenga for his patriotism. The President said that the NRM Government’s principle of unity has contributed immensely to the development of the national economy, the education and health sectors, among others, on the basis of private sector-led growth. He said that out of 59 universities and higher institutions of learning in the country, only nine are government owned adding that the trend serves as evidence of the good that belies the private sector led economy.
State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John Chrysostom Miyingo revealed that under the NRM Government, the level of education in the country has grown tremendously, especially that of the girl child, adding that in the past, girls occupied only two per cent in education but as of now they constitute 44.5 per cent at university level. Hon. Muyingo commended the administration of the University of St. Joseph for introducing new and unique education programmes. In his submission, Archbishop Bakyenga said the uniqueness of the University of Saint Joseph lies in its ability to deliver relevant, affordable, high quality, inclusive and community responsive education with emphasis on innovations, entrepreneurship and community engagement. He stressed the need for Uganda to establish more universities to serve the academic aspirations of the 41 million Ugandans. “Training increases professional practices and helps to avoid shoddy, substandard work in service delivery, because we want people with talents in our society to enable the country meet its current and future challenges,” he said.