On 25th May, 2017, the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Makerere University held its first alumni reunion to celebrate the achievements and contributions of its past and current students to national development. The one-day event held in the University Main Hall was presided over by the former Prime Minister of Uganda, the Rt. Hon. Prof. Apollo Nsibambi. It was graced by scores of influential alumni including; Ms Dorcus Okalany, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; Mr Aggrey Kibenge, Under Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports; Dr John Kiyaga – Nsubuga and Ms Asumpta Tibamwenda, a Technical Advisor in the Ministry of Local Government.
In his address, Prof. Nsibambi, who served as Head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration between 1987-1990, underscored the relevance of the discipline of Political Science to national development. He commended the staff and students of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration for their outstanding contribution to various sectors in Uganda. “Besides carrying out research on issues of political significance to the country, the staff of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration have been involved in several activities that have been instrumental in fostering development in Uganda. Among other things, the staff participated in the Constitutional Review Process, the development of Uganda’s foreign policy, the restructuring of Uganda’s local government system and the Defense Review Process that led to the professionalization of the Uganda People’s Defense Force,” he noted. Currently, the Department is collaborating with the Senior Command and Staff College – KIMAKA, in training leading to the award of a Masters Degree in Defense and Security Studies.
Commenting on the government promise of reaching middle income status by 2020, Prof. Nsibambi called for increased investment in education noting that it can only be realized through a human resource base that is skilled and committed to the vision.
Reacting to Prof. Nsibambi’s presentation, Prof. Sabiti Makara from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration reiterated the importance of education in fostering development. “Government should not only concentrate on infrastructural development and forget education. Some of the fast growing countries like China, Singapore and Nigeria started with investing in their human resource,” he said.
Assoc. Prof. Julius Kiiza who largely spoke on Uganda’s oil discovery and the production processes called for strengthening of accountability structures saying the country was not facing a resource curse but rather a “governance curse”.
.During the event, the alumni shared experience on how the discipline of political science had impacted their lives. Ms Asumpta Tibamwenda and Ms Dorcus Okalany explained that it was as a result of their experience with political science that they gained confidence and developed their analytical skills.
The event featured a number of other activities including student presentations on political participation and democratic governance in Uganda, awards to the best performing students in the 2016/2017 Academic Year and long serving members of staff, the launch of the World Disaster Report 2016 by Uganda Red Cross Society and exhibitions by the Department and partners.
In a speech read by Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, emphasized the importance of alumni in the training of students and development of the University. “Makerere University holds dear its alumni and it is because of this that the University has a fully-fledged office under the Planning and Development Department that handles alumni relations. We greatly value you and believe that it is only through the good works of our alumni and your support that Makerere University can remain relevant and competitive in the global academic arena. I therefore call upon all alumni to support all initiatives aimed at improving Makerere University,” he said. Prof. Bashasha is the Principal of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, implored the leadership of the Department to work closely with the alumni in training students. “The alumni should be partners in curriculum development, teaching and learning, innovation and galvanizing a robust internship programme to give students practical experience,” he advised. According to the Head, Dr Suzie Nansozi Muwanga, the Department of Political Science and Public Administration has established various partnerships. Uganda Red Cross Society is the latest partner which will reinforce the teaching of refugees at both undergraduate and graduate level and contribute to the ongoing research on security issues by some members of the Department. Other areas of collaboration will include training in humanitarian diplomacy and internship. Dr Nansozi expressed gratitude to the alumni and partners for their continued support to the Department. The event was supported by UNDP, Uganda Red Cross Society, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), Radio One, NBS Television and the University of Limerick in Ireland. It was coordinated by the Makerere University Political Science Students’ Association (MUPOSA).
In his remarks, the Dean, School of Social Sciences, Dr Andrew Elias State, commended the Department for organizing the reunion and appealed to the alumni to always come out to give support whenever called upon.