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Makerere warns staff on ‘spilling the beans’ to media

Prof. Nawangwe acting tough

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe has warned that the university is considering punitive sanctions against staff who give “false information” to the press.

Prof Nawangwe says the misinformation has resulted in bad publicity which is hurting Makerere’s international image. He says media claims misinformation is fed to them by “insiders.” The stern warning comes on the heel of critical reporting on numerous reforms that he has initiated at the university since taking over as Vice-Chancellor in September 2017.

“We have expressed concern about the numerous misrepresentations by the media about Makerere in the recent times, which are hurting the University’s international image,” Prof Nawangwe said in a note to staff on Sunday.

“The media have claimed that the false information is provided to them by ‘insiders’. While we do not wish to stifle freedom of expression, we are seriously considering sanctions against Makerere staff that deliberately provide false information to the media with the aim of damaging the university’s image,” he warned.

Prof Nawangwe appealed to staff to exercise maximum restraint and responsibility when representing the university, and especially during interaction with the media.

The radical reforms Prof Nawangwe has introduced or intend to initiate include; stopping the provision of meals to government-sponsored students and instead of giving them 4000 Shillings per day, scaling down evening programmes, increasing tuition for both undergraduate and postgraduate students and abolishing staff incentives, among others.

The controversy over the reforms stems from arguments that they were introduced without consultations. Whereas students and lecturers have been saying that they were not consulted, university management claims the two groups were consulted and accepted the reforms.

Nawangwe’s discontent mainly stems from the way the media has contextualized his reforms. For instance, the Sunday Monitor of March 18, carried a front-page headline; “Nawangwe turning Makerere upside down.” The story was an analysis of the university monthly media briefing held on Friday, March 16, 2018, where Nawangwe announced radical reforms referred to earlier.

The university management was also irked by a story published on Daily Monitor website on Friday, April 13, 2018, headlined; “Makerere to Scrap end of semester exams.”  The story says the university is piloting a new curriculum aimed at abolishing end of semester examinations and assessing students more broadly based on competence.

The university public relations officer, Rita Namisango described the story headline as “misleading and out of context.” She appealed to media to “always crosscheck with management before publishing information of policy nature that has the potential to put the university in disrepute.

No evidence 

Makerere University Academic Staff (MUASA) Vice Chairman Prof Edward Nector Mwavu says the Vice-Chancellor is not giving concrete information on how staffs have been misinforming the media. He says Nawangwe does not quote any story where staff gave information that is hurting the university image.

“He (Nawangwe) does not quote people giving false information. He does not give examples,” Prof Mwavu told Uganda Radio Network.

Prof Mwavu further says staff will always comment about top-down policies that don’t go through consultations. “Policies that come from the top are bound to be challenged. Some policies never go through the consultative process,” he says.


The post Makerere warns staff on ‘spilling the beans’ to media appeared first on The Independent Uganda:.

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This post was syndicated from The Independent Uganda:. Click here to read the full text on the original website.


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