Nsibambi: Why M7 Rarely Appoints Makerere Graduates to Cabinet

information pills geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 150%;”>Prof Nsibambi, there a former Vice Chancellor at the biggest institution in the country, noted with concern Friday of its dwindling academic performance over past months, and wondered what had gone wrong with its agenda and prioritization.

Makerere which in August last year had been ranked 4th in Africa and second in terms of research output, a few months ago slid back down to 10th position and 1,218th worldwide.

Regionally, the University of Nairobi overtook Makerere, coming in at 9th in Africa while the University of Dar es Salaam was ranked at 28th, according to a university ranking website Webometrics.

Although Makerere’s current position is laudable, Prof. Nsibambi was concerned that it still has failed to topple the dominance of especially South African universities.

“While a lot is being done, I believe that much more can still be achieved in terms of academic excellence, especially since Makerere was at one point among the best in the world; indeed it was dubbed the “Harvard of Africa.”


The declining academic performance, he noted, could also be reflected in Makerere’s current weightless professional and administrative output, which partly explains why President Yoweri Museveni nowadays rarely appoints its graduates to high ranking and decisive posts like cabinet, since most of their innovations are no longer critically needed by government.

“The question here arises; where are the Kyalwazi’s (Prof of Surgery), the Okot p’Biteks, the Ali Mazrui’s — those Makerere scholars of yesterday, who shook the academics and professional worlds?”

He went on: “Where are the new innovations and critical contributions originating from Makerere to the many issues of contemporary public concern such as [the EAC] regional integration, environment or terrorism?”

That academics are no longer excelling, Prof Nsibambi emphasized that much more needs to be done to nurture the young academics of today to become the excellent scholars of tomorrow.

He further observed that at this rate, the university needed to do some consultations from outsiders like himself in the planning for its next 20 or so years.

“Makerere and its friends like me need to hold grand meetings (ttabamiruka or kacoke madit) to review the institutional approach to excellence. This discussion should investigate how Makerere can return to being the hub of distinction that it once,” he noted while delivering a keynote speech a the memorial lecture of Prof Bernard Onyango at the university Main Hall.


“May be we can start by identifying particular locations of research and teaching and focusing on these areas of critical need and nurturing them into centers of excellence.

For example in the 1960s and 70s Makerere was renowned for its Medical and Agricultural faculties. Perhaps we can start there and then move to Law, Humanities ICT and others.”

It’s is unclear whether or not Nsibambi’s comments pointed to a possible interest in being invited again to service at the Ivory Tower.

Commenting on the dwindled performance, Dr. Vincent Ssembatya, the Director Quality Assurance Makerere University said that the drop in the rank didn’t mean their performance had declined.

“All universities in the top-ten are very strong in teaching and research by any credible measure. We feel proud to be among them because we know that our well qualified staff are working very hard, sometimes under strenuous circumstances.”

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