MasterCard expresses support for Makerere fees strike leader

Mollie Siperia Saasiraabo, the Makerere University student accused of leading a strike over the 15 per cent tuition hike will not lose her MasterCard Foundation scholarship.Saasiraabo is one of the students sponsored by MasterCard and Toni Tiemens, the director corporate communications at the foundation headquarters in Toronto in Canada disclosed to URN in an email that Saasiraabo remains a valued member of the scholars community and will continue to access all support and services the Scholars Program offers at Makerere University.

“The MasterCard Foundation supports freedom of expression, believes in civil discourse, and encourages students and leaders to work towards a peaceful resolution,” Tiemens explains.

On Thursday last week, the MasterCard Foundation issued a statement expressing deep concern for the safety and security of all people at Makerere University.“The Foundation is deeply concerned about the violence taking place at Makerere University surrounding the student protests related to the fee structure at the university.  The Foundation supports freedom of expression and believes in civil discourse.  The Foundation does not condone violence in any situation,” reads the statement in part.

The foundation sponsors 1,000 needy but academically bright Ugandan students at Makerere University. Saasiraabo is among the nine students suspended by Makerere University for their alleged involvement in the on-going strike and destruction of university property. She was suspended while still in police custody on Tuesday last week following her arrest together with 14 other female students.

Following their initial peaceful protest two weeks ago against the 15 per cent tuition increment, Saasiraabo, who is also the Guild Representative Councilor for the School of Psychology was attacked at night near Complex Hall.

The First Lady also minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni has since attacked ‘dishonest’ and ‘corrupt’ students like Saasiraabo for striking against tuition increment yet they are well sponsored and not affected at all by the fees policy. In her defence, Saasiraabo said she was demonstrating on behalf of fellow struggling students especially girls who she knows are engaged in prostitution so as to be able to get money for their education.The 15% tuition and functional fees increment was passed by the University Council in June 2018. It requires that every student enrolling for a new course at Makerere pay 15% more in addition to the previous year’s fees.

The increment is expected to be cumulative for the next five years.  However, students have since protested the policy now in its second year of implementation, saying it discriminates the poor.

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