BY EMMANUEL OKOT
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) wants to team up with Uganda Christian University to enhance research, staff exchange programmes and the ease of admission of Congolese students to the university.
Currently, high-level steps are being taken to see the partnership take effect.
In a meeting held in the Principal’s Hall at UCU’s main campus in Mukono last week, Timothee Lemba Munga, the education officer at the DRC Embassy in Kampala, said his country was interested in partnering with UCU.
The UCU team led by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, and that of Mr Lemba, agreed to fast-track the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to kick-start the partnership.
Lemba said the conflict raging in the eastern DRC is forcing the country to seek the partnership in education with Ugandan universities. He expressed concern that many Congolese students are not admitted in Ugandan universities because of the differences in the education systems in the two countries.
“Congo has a deficit of technical staff and we are looking at students trained in Uganda to fill the gap,” Lemba said.
Senyonyi said there were already 40 Congolese students pursuing different courses at UCU and that the Church-founded institution was ready to admit even more.
“We have not closed our doors to international students. Being a Christian-founded university, we have a little different tradition of admission, whether there is an agreement with government or not,” Senyonyi said.
He added that UCU would not mind admitting more Congolese students as long as their academic documents have been equated by UNEB to match the Ugandan standards. “As a Christian university, it’s our mission to reach out to as many people in the world as possible,” Senyonyi said.
Available statistics indicate that DR Congo has over 3,600 students studying in Ugandan universities and thousands in primary and secondary schools.
In a bid to help the Congolese students access admission in Ugandan universities, Uganda and Congo in October last year signed a MoU to remove the barriers.
The MoU allowed the Congolese Embassy to reach out to individual universities in Uganda to sign MoUs directly. But the Congolese Embassy says not much has changed yet.
Munga requested the Ministry of Education to reach out to UNEB to ensure that the barriers in verifying the academic documents of the Congolese students are removed.
Reacting on the matter, the spokesperson of the Ugandan Ministry of Education, Patrick Muinda, told The Standard that they were aware that UNEB has found challenges in equating academic documents of students from some countries in the region because of the huge disparity in the number of subjects they offer.
The Standard has learnt that Congolese citizens from the eastern provinces of Goma and Kisangani are looking up to Uganda for university education.
Uganda is much favoured for university education in the region as students from the neighbouring countries such as Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi scramble for university education.