While appearing before the committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Uganda's Law Development Centre (LDC) director Mr. Elijah Wante accused universities of churning out half-baked graduates from law school. This, he attributed to the much publicized failures registered at the LDC in the last couple of years.
Wante further stated that due to the liberalisation of higher education, universities now admit any student with “A” aggregates to their law schools irrespective of whether such a student studied literature or not. What is even upsetting is that most of the students score very high grades at the law school, but when given the bar exams, they mostly fail.
Wante is absolutely right. There is evidence that the quality of education throughout the country has registered serious decline in the last decade. At Makerere University, the debate as to what has led to this decline is premised on large number of student to professor ratio. Others even claim that there is a lucrative sex-for-marks scheme at the universities. There is also direct bribery to enable sons and daughters of the rich come away with good grades. However, the most important factor is that reading culture has diminished in value so much so that students just strive to pass their classes without mastering the content of course materials.
If you are a Ugandan, you will probably know that the Uneb culture is the worst experience ever for the G-generation. The G generation refers to the globalization kids under the age of thirty who have now been diagnosed with what is called the intellectual obesity and information diarrhoea. According to Jim World, a renowned retired educator in Canada, in his article to the Canadian Teacher’s magazine 2008 edition observes that students are now surrounded with so much junk information that is so tasty and appealing that it is so hard for young people to resist its consumption. It is the ingestion of this junk material that continues to inflict on students this symptom of intellectual obesity.
Teachers and professors are therefore expected to impose strict anti plagiarism rules, inspire originality and to encourage the consumption of scientifically plausible materials to concretise the consumption of valid knowledge. For Ugandan universities, plagiarism was once described as a cancer. The issue of academic honesty is one which is cardinal in overall performance of students and effectiveness of professors.
Recently, CNN published a news article where a frustrated student, Ms Trina Thompson sued her College three months after graduation because she was unable to find a job. Ms Thompson alleges that her college did not provide her with sufficient career guidance so she could find a job. She wants the college to refund her student loan and also to compensate her for stress and frustration she endured during her failed job search.
Students who might have exhausted the family’s fortune should be well trained. Failures are so devastating that the families should hold universities responsible for shoddy works. For instance, Associate Professor JB Nyakaana, who was reported to have been caught copying from his student, should have resigned from Makerere University because his continued tenure of office compromises the reputation of the university.
By Morris DC Komakech
A social critic, political analyst and African scholar based in Toronto, Canada.