Several buildings at the university were either constructed during the colonial times or the postindependence period. One would say the structures have long lived their time. Over the years, as the university continued to attract students from the continent and beyond, Makerere’s physical infrastructure was not expanding. In the 1991-1992 academic year, Makerere University opened its doors to privately-sponsored students. With this move, the university population grew from just about 2,000 students on government sponsorship to more than 30,000 at the moment. As the desire to get degrees increased in the country, more and more students rushed to join Makerere University. With the limited training space, the university could only introduce evening classes to meet the demand, but this, too, was not sustainable. Facilities did not only break down, but some were obsolete and needed an overhaul.
With time, the university became overwhelmed with the numbers and there was an increasing demand for new facilities. The call was answered in 2015, when Makerere University became a beneficiary of the Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) project, through the African Development Bank (AfDB). The project has not only helped Makerere obtain space for her students, but also gave her a facelift. According to the university’s management, Makerere needed to have enough space to manage the large number of students. The University Strategic Plan (USP) highlights the need to have centralised teaching facilities in place as a mechanism to manage large student numbers. It was against this background that the central facilities were prioritised in the AfDB-HEST support. The university’s aim is to ensure that students and staff will benefit from central spaces.
Facilities at Makerere
As one walks through the Makerere compound, new buildings greet them from the main gate. The first storeyed Central Teaching Facility (CTF), adjacent to the School of Social Sciences, is visible as one climbs to the main building. The facility is a four-storeyed building with fully equipped lecture rooms, seminar and breakaway rooms, a lounge and a fully equipped e-learning laboratory. That is not all. There is another CTF next to the College of Business and Management Sciences- (CoBAMs).
The five-storeyed building houses a magnificent auditorium with a capacity for 1,000 seats at a time. In addition, the CTF has flexible and dynamic lecture rooms for both medium and big classes, and seminar/breakaway rooms. Under the HEST project, Makerere University College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS) obtained a diagnostic laboratory. According to the university management, it is anticipated that all laboratory-based units at the university will have access to this facility and its modern equipment.
In 2019, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) acquired a biotechnology laboratory and equipment worth $1m. Other facilities set up under the HEST project at Makerere include a Graphic Information System (GIS) laboratory at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), a computer laboratory at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS).
Other areas of support
A lot more activities were also undertaken at Makerere under the HEST project. These include specialised laboratory rehabilitation, income generation and resource mobilisation, scholarships and bridging the gap between the university and the private sector, among others. In the areas of gender, HIV/ AIDS and special needs, several activities were also identified. Gender issues will be implemented under the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, special needs under the Dean of Students and HIV/AIDS prevention under the university health services.