Parliament has Okayed the government take over the Mountains of the Moon University.
The motion was tabled by John Chrysostom Muyingo, the Minister of State for Higher Education during the plenary on Tuesday chaired by Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah.
Muyingo told MPs that taking over the institution as a Public University would address the issue of regional balance and equity since there is no public university in the Rwenzori sub-region.
The private institution is located in Fort Portal and was established as a community university in 2005 by a team of eminent people including the current Minister for Tourism Tom Butime, Professor Edward Rugumayo, Justice Seith Manyindo and others.
In 2017, the management of the University asked the government to take it over and turn it into a public university.
Professor John Kasenene, the Vice-Chancellor argued that they can no longer afford the high costs of running the institution. He also said that the university is facing a huge challenge to pay staff salaries and improve infrastructure.
In 2020, Cabinet approved the takeover of the University as a Public University to enable it to provide quality teaching and learning that is relevant and competitive.
Muyingo says that the University needs a funding mechanism to sustain its activities and it is important to take it over as a Public University following a recommendation by the National Council for Higher Education –NCHE.
He added that the university will enable government to subsidize and support basic infrastructure development and staff pay hence lowering the cost of higher education. Muyingo also says that the institution will benefit the districts of Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kyegegwa, Ntoroko, and Kyenjojo and beyond.
The Minister said that the University will focus on Agriculture, Tourism, Environmental Conservation geared towards promoting agro-processing, value addition and marketing.
However, Bukholi Central MP Solomon Silwany and Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa raised concern that the request to take over Busoga University as a Public University had come earlier. Basalirwa wondered why the process had taken long and yet that of Mountains of the Moon was expedited.
Tom Butime, the Mwenge Central MP told Parliament that to date, the University has more than 2,500 students and was granted a charter in 2017.
Butime who doubles as the Chairman of the Governing Council of the university appealed to parliament to approve the motion.
Agnes Atim Apea, the Amolatar Woman MP supported the motion saying that it is important for the Rwenzori region to have a public university.
Elijah Mushemeza, the Sheema South MP also supported the motion saying that the academic and human resource strength shows readiness to operate a public university.
Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju also supported the motion but disagreed with Minister Muyingo’s argument that the Rwenzori region also needed a public university saying that the matter shouldn’t be tribal.
The Mountains of the Moon University now becomes the second private institution to be taken over by the government after Kabale University in 2018.
In 2019, the Ministry of Education appointed a committee to oversee the transition of the university to a public university. The committee comprised of Dr Pius Coxwell Achanga as the Chairperson and Prof. John Kasenene as Vice-Chairperson. Dr Edmond Kagambe and Grace Kazooba were Secretary and Committee members respectively.