The officials say they cannot proceed with the admissions without UNEB verifying the schools in these new districts as well as determining their population status since the existing information was of the last population census before the creation of the new districts. Besides, students from the new districts are still being counted from the mother districts as at the time of registration as candidates in the first school term. This means students from Omoro are still being counted under Gulu, those from Kagadi and Kakumiro are still under Kibaale and those from Rubanda are still technically under Kabale district.
At the start of this financial year in July 2016, four new districts of Kagadi, Kakumiro, Rubanda and Omoro started operations, raising the number of districts in the country to 116. It is these that are to benefit from the 896 places available for government sponsorship.
PUJAB officials have, however, revealed that they have been waiting for the Uganda National Examinations Board -UNEB to inform them which schools belong to the new districts and the current population status but in vain.
The officials say they cannot proceed with the admissions without UNEB verifying the schools in these new districts as well as determining their population status since the existing information was of the last population census before their creation.
Besides, students from the new districts are still being counted from the mother districts as at the time of registration as candidates in the first school term. This means students from Omoro are still being counted under Gulu, those from Kagadi and Kakumiro are still under Kibaale and those from Rubanda are still technically under Kabale district.
Members of the Adhoc PUJAB committee are holding a meeting today June 6 at Makerere University to resolve the impasse surrounding the district quota system admissions for the 2017/18 academic year.
According to the admission guidelines, preference is given to candidates who sat Advanced Level examinations at schools in their home districts. At least every district is expected to receive five slots every year and the balance of slots are distributed according to district populations.
URN has exclusively learnt that the board has been stuck after its members waited for UNEB to verify the schools and districts in which applicants were from.
A source from PUJAB who did not want his identity revealed confirmed to URN that the creation of new districts was narrowing the slots for district sponsorship scheme. The source argues that while the number of districts increases, the slots remain fixed. The source further discloses that they are still waiting for UNEB to verify which schools belong to the new districts.
"You can imagine government has been sponsoring a total of 896 students on district quota system since 2005. Since then, many districts have been created but the number of slots remains the same. Now I think we will reach a time when a district will be sponsoring only one student yet this scheme was a bit fair because it created balance," the source said.
The source further explains that while government sponsors 4000 students in total, every time there is a new public university created, government reduces on the number of students it sponsors from Makerere to the new universities. Last year alone 150 students were cut from the number for Makerere and sent to Busitema University.
Charles Ssentongo, the Makerere University acting Deputy Academic Registrar and a member of PUJAB, however, dismissed talk of a dilemma but confirmed that the committee is sitting to finalise the admission process.
"That is not true. There is no problem with district quota system. But we are meeting on Tuesday to finalise the process," Ssentongo said.
A total of 3,000 students were last month admitted to different public universities under the merit category. In addition to the quota scheme, another 104 students will soon be admitted to add up to the 4,000 students sponsored by the Government yearly.
Of the 104 vacancies, 40 slots are for talented sportsmen and women, while the rest will go to students with disabilities. The district quota system was introduced in 2004 to enable bright students from underprivileged schools in remote districts get university education.
In the 2005/06 academic year, there were 56 districts and each received 16 slots. The following year, the districts rose to 81 and each got 11 slots. Last year, there were 112 districts in the country and each got 8 slots.
In 2012, government resolved that the districts with higher student populations would be allocated a higher number of candidate slots.
In September 2015, parliament approved the creation of 22 new districts in the country for what they called effective administration of those areas and bringing services closer to the people.
The districts were to be in a phased manner, starting with Kakumiro, Omoro, Rubanda and Kagadi in the 2016/2017 financial year. Effective July 1 this year, Namisindwa, Pakwach, Butebo, Rukiga, Kyotera and Bunyangabu will start operations. Others are Nabilatuk, Bugweri, Kasanda, Kwania, Kapelebyong and Kikuube which will start effective on July 1, 2018; while Obongi, Kazo, Rwampara, Kitagwenda, Madi-Okollo, Karenga and Lusot shall become districts effective on July 1, 2019.