President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has ordered that lecturers and technicians working in public higher education institutions receive higher salaries. The aim is to keep skilled staff and attract new qualified professionals. This decision comes after a report by Professor Eli Katunguka, who heads the National Council for Higher Education, highlighted challenges in promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines at universities.
Professor Katunguka, also the Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University, noted the struggle of public universities in recruiting and retaining qualified staff for engineering and architectural programs, despite government investments in infrastructure. The President’s directive is to align salaries for these critical fields with those offered in the public sector.
The Ministry of Education recently implemented salary increases for university staff, with STEM teaching staff already receiving slightly higher pay compared to arts and humanities. The specific salary increases for STEM professors, lecturers, and technicians are yet to be determined, and further research will guide these adjustments.
President Museveni justified the salary increase by referring to the importance of competitive compensation for scientists, citing Soroti Flying School as an example. He emphasized his ongoing prioritization of STEM, despite criticism of perceived inequity in salary raises. The President stressed the need to focus on sectors reliant on scientists, like road construction, research institutions, and the medical field.
Additionally, the President instructed the National Council for Higher Education to align the higher education curriculum with the nation’s needs, emphasizing problem-solving and societal advancement. Janet Kataha Museveni, the Minister of Education and Sports, echoed these sentiments, urging the enhancement of higher education quality, particularly in science and technology programs.
However, Professor Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of NCHE, acknowledged challenges in ensuring higher education quality due to limited funding and insufficient experts. She highlighted the need for legal empowerment to enforce closures of non-compliant institutions during ongoing legislative reviews.