Enos Mbabazi who awaits graduation at Bugema Adventists University says that he acknowledged the fact that his parents couldn’t raise full tuition payment therefore he opted for the institution’s work program that was put up to assist students in raising full tuition of a given semester.
Mbabazi adds that his family faced a lot of financial constraints after his first year at the university as his parents had taken a lot of loans that catered for his first two semesters at the university and with this, his parents couldn’t take in or apply for more loans to take him back to school, therefore, he opted to start working at the livestock farm and bodaboda commercial riding to earn money for tuition.
Despite working day and night during the holidays, Mbabazi failed to raise the required 50% deposit the university required from every student to be registered for that specific semester of study which drained his hopes of resuming his studies in the second year however through a friend of his Mbabazi was introduced to the work program of the institution
Mbabazi narrates that the program was a lifesaver because he had become totally hopeless. ” I was deployed in general work program working under supervisors who were to ensure that work allocated to me is done in time and in my program I had no specific work rather I would do whichever assignment was given to me” he added.
“I was deployed in school farm to do weeding and harvesting at times, I also helped in the general cafeteria as server and cleaner, I also used to clean classes and other halls and I worked only 2-3 hours a day which was convenient that It never affected my class time and the only challenge was some of my friends and the other students who knew me,” Mbabazi explains.
After successfully completing the first semester in his second year, Mbabazi continued applying for a general work program in the following semesters as the work program covered about 70% of his tuition, and the rest was cleared by the money he raised from the jobs he was in doing in the holidays.
Survives a dead year
However, Mbabazi is not the only student who has benefited from such an arrangement. Ronald Kangumira a former student at Bugema Adventist University also applied for the program after he lost his parents in the first semester of his final year at university. “I had two options; to either ask for a dead year or, find another job soon which was going to be impossible because of lack of academic qualifications and experience.” He added.
The work and study program became my last and only resort,” he says, adding that in comparison to his loss of parents who were the main source of tuition this was really easy to do. “I worked around the Cafeteria and my work was to clean up after lunchtime and I still had enough time to go for my classes and to take up another job in the evening to support myself,” he adds.
After 3 semesters, Kangumira stopped working for the university because he had got a sponsored scholarship. He, however, reveals that “Often, students do not know of the availability of such life-saving opportunities that universities offer because these programs are part of life lessons that students should take on to learn how to support him or herself without depending on guardians always.”
How It Works
Work Program system is similar in most universities that is to say At Bugema Adventist University and Uganda Christian University(UCU) students are hired to work in different non-teaching departments and in turn, the student benefits by having their tuition paid by the university. It is a program that students at admitted to the university can apply for.
It was specifically designed to help students who are not doing well in terms of clearing their tuition and so, the money is not given to them in cash form but rather, it is credited to their fees accounts.
Fortunately, the program runs on a semester basis, so every semester, we have new students enrolling, while others leave. For example, if you have been on the program but your financial situation improves the next semester, you can withdraw from the program furthermore when students apply, the university has a panel that vets them to choose those that qualify.
At Bugema Adventist University Joshua Niyategeka, the Work Program coordinator, says that the program targets needy students and its policy is that someone must be admitted, registered at the university, and has paid at least 50 percent of the tuition.
However, he notes that all the available work is manual, such as working on the farm, cleaning around the university, and in lecture rooms. “Because the university has a busy schedule, the student has got to achieve firstly; class requirements such as preparing for class presentations, research, course works, and the exams. Students, therefore, work for not more than five hours a day for six days in a week,” he adds.
Students are given the freedom to set their own convenient time in which they can comfortably execute their work. “The rewards are calculated hourly, so if the student is hardworking and committed, they can be able to raise a good amount of money – which is deposited on their tuition accounts,” he adds.