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Suspended Mak Student Struggles to Return to University :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Suspended Mak Student Struggles to Return to University

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“There was a general feeling that Jalmeo would mobilise students to again protest the tuition increment. More so management feared that he would be part of the guild government would pose a great threat,” a source disclosed to URN.
Obed Obed-Giu Kwokuboth Jalmeo, a bachelor of Arts with Education [English, Literature] at Makerere dressed in the undergraduate gown.

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It is exactly one year since Obed Obed-Giu Kwokuboth Jalmeo, a Bachelor of Arts with Education majoring in English language and Literature was suspended from Makerere University.    

The student-cum-activist says he learnt that he had been suspended on August, 7th, 2018 through social media as he prepared to resume the next academic year. He would later be served his suspension letter on August 24, 18 by the Dean of Students, Cyriaco Kabagambe.  

Jalmeo was suspended by the university vice chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe alongside eight other students for allegedly threatening to disrupt activities at the university over tuition increment. They were accused of circulating messages calling for defiance against the university management.

The others included Daniel Kituno, Jobs Dhabona, Samuel Kigula, Frank Bwambale, Emmanuel Johnson Obbo, David Musiri, and Kassim Njalira. Several others received warning letters from the university management.  The students were protesting the cumulative 15% tuition increment, a policy passed by university council in June 2018.   

While other students negotiated their way back into the university, it has not been an easy walk for Jalmeo to return, settle and concentrate on his studies.  The 25-year-old Jalmeo from Nyapea Sub County in the West Nile sub-region District of Zombo is yet to get green light from the university management to resume studies.  

In an interview with URN, Jalmeo said his journey to be reinstated back to the university hasn’t been easy because of many disappointments and various demands by the institution. 

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He is the first born of four children born by the bed-ridden Betty Dhugira, a groundnuts seller in Nebbi.  Jalmeo says he has been the sole bread winner of the family since his father’s death, adding that all his siblings have dropped out of school because he can hardly secure fees for them.  

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Jalmeo went to Arua Public Primary School and later joined Kisubi Mapeera Secondary school briefly. He would later join Uringi secondary school and Naalya SS where he was being supported by the school, having been a good performer.  

He is a passionate  writer. His first book being; “The Dictator Awakened” which is a poetry collection.  He is also an activist and a poet with Kitara Nation and curator of a poetry platform dubbed “Kelele at Makerere.”  

During his suspension, Jalmeo has been involved in poetry outreaches around Kampala where he gets some money to send back home for his sick mother and food for his siblings.  However, he says this is not sustainable as sometimes he runs broke and cannot fend for his family. 

“My friends who I joined with at campus have previously called me to help them out on Literature in their school. There is where I went and facilitated and the students and management loved it, wanted to give me a job but required at least results or to have finished campus. This prompted me to come to convince the management but up until now, I have not received any of my requests,” Jalmeo says.

He has asked the university management to allow him to return and complete his bachelor’s degree, which he says could put him in a better position to earn some money.     

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He told URN that having understood the implication of the cumulative 15% tuition increment policy, he was determined to fight it especially being a self-sponsored student.  

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A source in Makerere University’s top management told URN that the student was technically kept outside to prevent possible demonstrations that would disrupt university activities. 

“There was a general feeling that Jalmeo would mobilise students to again protest the tuition increment. More so management feared that he would be part of the guild government would pose a great threat,” a source disclosed to URN.  

Student leaders speak out  

Judith Nalukwago, the Makerere University vice Guild President, says Jalmeo has a right to be heard. She says this is not giving a good image to the university.    

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Julius Kateregga, the Makerere University guild president says Jalmeo was opposed to the tuition increment due to his humble background.  According to Kateregga, as an orphan, Jalmeo had already missed two academic years because he had failed to raise tuition.  

“Jalmeo’s case has been a rare one. Like you know the history, that when students rose up to question, the manner in which tuition was being increased at the start of last academic year, a number of students were singled out and suspended under unclear circumstances,” Kateregga states.  

Adding that; “Others were even suspended for writing their opinions on their personal Facebook accounts. They received funny warning letters and suspensions saying that they were tarnishing the image of the university.”  

The guild president explains how he was lucky that he was not suspended at the time since he was also involved in the protests that led to his friend’s suspension.  

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Kateregga says the university council recently approved the students’ disciplinary committee, which he says they will fast track to ensure matters of students on suspension are prioritized.  

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