Minister Baryomunsi denounces the “shameful” demonstration by Mak students against online courses

The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, has described the recent strike by Makerere University students over virtual learning as embarrassing.

Baryomunsi, who was speaking at the National Broadband Survey and Infrastructure Plan Validation Workshop in Kampala, said the world is moving extremely fast in technology and as a result, learners at a large institution like Makerere should be the last to oppose virtual learning and digital transformation.

“I was embarrassed the other day when I read in the media that Makerere University students were on strike because the University insists on defending online learning. And the students are saying, no, you have to teach us in the classroom. That says a lot about this transformation, this digitization agenda, because where we are going is digital,” he said.

Following the lifting of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Makerere announced a study schedule, dividing students into two groups.

For this semester, out of the 10 weeks of the semester, one group of students must take physical classes for five weeks and online classes for five weeks and the reverse is true for group two.

The first group includes all freshmen, all students pursuing health and veterinary science programs, all architecture, engineering, and agriculture programs, all master’s students (except MPH Distance and other distance learning graduate programs All of these must take physical courses from February 5 to March 12, 2022.

Group two to attend online classes (e-learning) and includes sophomores and all current students and finalists. Also from February 5 to March 12, 2022.

Then, from March 14 to April 16, group two will attend physical classes, and these include; Second year and all current and finalist students and all students pursuing Health and Veterinary Science programs, all Architecture, Engineering and Agriculture programs, all Masters students (except MPH Distance and other distance learning graduate programs.

The group will take online classes from March 14 to April 16 and includes all first-year students.

Then regarding the first semester exams, group two will take the exams physically on campus from April 18 to May 1, 2022. These included; Sophomores, all Continuing and Finalist students, all students pursuing Health and Veterinary Science programs, all Architecture, Engineering and Agriculture programs, all Masters students (except MPH Distance and other distance learning graduate programs).

The first group will also take exams physically on campus from May 2 to May 15. These include freshmen, MPH Distance, and other distance graduate and undergraduate programs.

This forced students to protest, saying the economy had been fully reopened and therefore they should fully resume physical classes.

Students have also protested the high cost of data needed to attend online classes.

Baryomunsi said much remains to be done for citizens to appreciate digital transformation.

“Students at a major university, Makerere, are opposed to learning using virtual platforms. They say we are embarrassed by your promotion of e-learning. This means that we still have a lot of work to do for a country or fellow citizens to understand that in the future we have to go digital in many things that we do,” he said.

Young people, Baryomunsi said, should be the last to dislike the digital agenda.

“If it was parents who were on strike, you could understand that they are people who are, as they call them ‘BBC’ (Born Before Computer) or they are old. But it is young people who should embrace the digital agenda,” he said.

Pictured: Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi speaking at the National Broadband Baseline Survey and Infrastructure Plan Validation Workshop in Kampala.