Thursday, 11 April 2013

LETTER TO MY FRIEND IN KIKONI:‘MES’ IS THIS THE DEATH OF INTELLECTUALISM??


If you are out there and you still believes that the school of engineering is a hub of intellectualism, or whether this institution is a fountain of knowledge, if you wonder if the students here are a beacon of admiration, then you should think again, considering what transpired at the MES open debate in the conference hall on Wednesday 20th March 2013, I fear for the worst.

When the Electoral commission decided it was honorably enough to subject the MES candidates to an open debate, It was clear to all of us that a moment had arrived for us to chart out a new course of democracy, a moment where the choices of the students would reflect the commitment and dedication of our leaders but to my chagrin a dark cloud had darted our sky, Hooliganism and tales of indecency had replaced political maturity that was bound to ignite a lot of intellectual feelings and debate.

The Engineering society is engulfed in a crisis unprecedented, from concerns of financial impropriety to apparent neglect of the citizenry, a nearly flawed leadership transformation process where some candidates found out very late that they did not qualify, all these are consequence of incompetence on the part of some, but also the failure by the students collectively to make strong choices and decisions. As we make considerations on how to work closely with the leadership we elected to steer us into this new era, we should recognize with profoundness the willingness of these leaders to find meaning in something greater than themselves, that willingness to forgo lectures because one is coordinating a students workshop, the courage to challenge the college administration’s very unpopular policies and the hope that the silent voices of the least outspoken students have a louder voice tucked somewhere in them to speak for us, such is the MES we all want.
It should be understood that it is not only the skill and vision of the leaders in the bamboo house that has for the very many years propelled MES to its full functionality but rather the ideology of its members, that a First year Telecommunication Engineering student can come up with an award-winning project or that a final year Electrical Engineering student doesn’t only look up at UMEME for a salaried job but desires to be a job creator themselves, such determination has and is what the society desires.

Incompetence of the Electoral Commission
The recently concluded guild elections if anything should have been a credible source of edification on how a free and fair election should have been, an electoral process where no candidate is above the rule of law, where the slightest divergence from ethics is not tolerated, but such was different from the CEDAT electoral commission, lapses in management of the electoral process where observed when the commissioners failed miserably in their attempts to prevent rowdy supporters of rival candidates from being a nuisance in the open debate, campaigns on the polling day at the polling stations, interference and distraction of voters on the polling day and concerns about cheating and conspiracy to deny the students a chance to choose the candidates they want after it turned out that the number of people who voted exceeded the votes cast for some candidates, however the commission scored highly for the well made shirts and blouses the commissioners wore on election day
The unusual spectra which occurred when the organizers of the debate nearly stopped one candidate Mr. Onam Namakoola from taking to the podium because he failed to put money in the culture box should not have happened, such acts of impunity should not be tolerated because an institutionally organized open debate is a not an avenue to exercise financial might to sustain incumbent leaders’ greed but a battle ground for ideology and brilliant intellectualism as opposed to populism

Congratulations, Mr. President
The term opportunity cost is widely considered to be an alternative forgone every time a choice is made and in the recently concluded MES polls, the alternative foregone for you Mr. President was immense, for some it meant disagreements with friends and acquaintances while for others it was a case of conflicting loyalty. This cost then was paid by the more than 70%  students who overwhelmingly voted for you and now is shouldered by the rest of the Engineering fraternity, we all contend that the challenges you face are many and real, and that they are not about talking and authoring long letters on notice boards but folding your shirt sleeves and getting to work, from the MES afternoons to integration of innovativeness and earning us back the trust we vested in you because the affairs of the MES demand for a compulsory effort to transform the society into an admired institution where integrity and accountability are inevitable.

To the entire new executive, we are proud that you emerged victorious and gave us options to choose from as Engineering students and for those that didn’t win; we say you triumphed in your pursuit of the truth and of democracy. This is my debate.


LETTER TO MY FRIEND IN KIKONI: OPEN LETTER TO MY LECTURER


Dear lecturer
I have always agreed that the remarkable story of success that is, Makerere University has been propelled by the energy and built by the hands and resolve of people who have always asked hard questions that we the very students asked the moment we decided to take up the challenge of this great nation when we choose to study at the ivory tower-such is what distinguishes a student from Makerere University from a student of any other university like kyambogo, Ndejje or Nkozi, this desire has enabled the university to roll out the first home-made vehicle in the name of Kiira EV, led to the development of cost effective sanitary pads in the name of MAKpads, and the beginning of a new era of un-precendented technological advancement in the country to mention but a few and just last semester celebrations rocked the University when it was commemorating its 90th birthday and indeed we ask what will be spoken of this great hill at its 100th anniversary.
It has been  two weeks now since we last saw you in class, I recall very well with profoundness that day you made a decision not to deliver lectures to our class because the class was way beyond what you are supposed to handle in terms of numbers, and further more because the administration had failed to avail you with the necessary facilities for laboratory study, by standing up and doing what many lecturers could not do or better still by walking where angels could not trod-to walk out on 140 students or more is hilarious and admirable, to me it shows that you are mindful about the quality of people that get trained through your hands, however attention is brought to you to reflect on the plight of the student that rightfully deserves this knowledge because they paid a penny or so for this education they badly need.
Whereas it would be unrealistic not to delve into the issues that prompted you into abandoning our class, I feel mention should be made of some of the likely causes of this problem
Last year it is estimated that more than 40 students failed this course unit and were required to retake the course the next time it was offered which is this year, why do students really get retakes? Three reasons are extended to this argument, firstly that the students cannot comprehend the entails of the course unit; secondly that the lecturers are not good enough to be understood well by the students vis-à-vis the mode of dispensation or that the environment created is not convenient enough for such a course because I refuse to believe there could be such a thing as a hard course unit- a just cause to review the education status quo
It should also be understood that innovations made right here in the College of Engineering, Design Art and Technology will one day impact on the life of people in great proportions, an engineering student who publishes a paper about the relevance of using rice husks as an additive in pavement construction could attract the attention of a certain road engineer who's working on a similar design in the Works Ministry and a professor who makes a breakthrough in developing geo-technical data could save hundreds from mudslides in Bududa and such is what the nation expects from us, infact everybody at Makerere University
Therefore the hours you spend with us in class not only have the potential to improve the lives of students and their families but they also offer the nation a great opportunity to develop new ideas that will lead to creation of new jobs and development of this country as the motto states ‘we build for the nation’ and by getting to class, you're doing your nation a great honor
Think about what the nation was like only thirty years ago, when there were about 100 students in College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, then Faculty of Technology and there was only the old technology  building, back then, the big challenge was just to sit through class up to your final year and if you could graduate or not you would be assured of a job but the world has surely changed since then and today even a first class degree doesn't guarantee a job and as if that is not enough the cost of acquiring education here has risen by leaps and bounds
In light of your concern I believe it is paramount for a student wishing to be a relevant engineer to acquire the necessary theoretical and near practical skills provided for by the university that way we will be sure that new opportunities will be created amidst enormous competition because Universities like kyambogo ,Ndejje and UCU are churning out more qualified and technically able engineering graduates who can compete directly with ease in this generation, the latter posses greater comparative advantage over the former and if we need Makerere University to stay on top, we'll need great commitment by the students, lecturers and every stake holder to better and improved theoretical education and practical training relevant for the demands of this generation.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

LETTER TO MY FRIEND IN KIKONI: WE WILL TAKE BACK OUR ‘MES’

The school of engineering will soon find out if it will be the proud academic abode of the next guild president of Makerere University in today’s Guild polls in what is seen by many as an opportunity for science and technology students to adventure and set sail on the political scene previously dominated by social and political scientists, lawyers and economists et el.
The fact that the school of engineering boasts of six contenders for the position of GRC where only two persons are required to represent the constituency in the August house is an indication that interest is greatly shifting to the previously shunned political leadership
Makerere University has positioned itself as one of the best universities in Africa in the recent past with the web-metrics survey indicating an upward improvement to the 8th best university in Africa, and if the recent hub of innovation is something to go by, It’s college of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology is only second to none in fostering innovation, invention and human resource enrichment, an ingredient that is greatly lacking in many of the graduands churned out from many Ugandan universities
Makerere Engineering Society has registered tremendous success in linking students to the outside world through exhaustive campaigns to widely market the students however the efficacy of some of these policies need to be re-thought 

MES AFTERNOONS
These social interactive sessions organized in the conference hall were like a breath of fresh air on a hot afternoon, sections of all engineering students would assembly to engage in discussions and listen to keynote speakers while being entertained and refreshed at the same time, but the occurrence of these famous afternoons is as rare as seeing Professor Baryamureba on campus these days

PROJECT FUNDING
Last term at the CEDAT open day complains arose out of the manner in which the then project coordinator financially supported student projects, in some instances a mean looking gentleman would walk over to your project site at the tent and ask an exhibitor how much the project cost and would then proceeded to hand them any amount prescribed at their discretion.

ENGINEERING JOURNAL
Many student projects vanish in thin air moments after exhibition, this calls for a forum that will serve as a platform for showcasing the numerous skills and techniques transformed from theoretical knowledge obtained in class, therefore an engineering journal or magazine would come in handy and this would be a positive step towards marketing the engineering brand of Makerere university
The plight of an engineering student who subscribes to the society is highlighted in our non ceasing desire to see the best service directed towards the students cause and whoever is interested in any leadership in the society whether it being at the helm or in the lower echelons should be able to harmonize their position with the needs and expectations of the student they serve
Furthermore the leadership should be made more and easily accessible as well as accountable to encourage dialogue and interaction or else we will always roar with one voice ‘we will take back our MES’