Student protest at Uganda hotel school exposes government failures


UGANDA (eTN) – Students at the Tourism and Hotel Training Institute in Jinja, based at the Crested Crane Hotel, have delivered a petition via the District Resident Representative, to President Museveni complaining about the lack of graduations since the institute was, in an overnight action by cabinet at the end of 2007, transferred from the Ministry of Education and Sports to the Minister of Tourism. Sources at the school claim that a formal graduation would be difficult in the absence of an enabling law governing the institute, something cabinet – probably as a result of their hasty action in 2007 – had not only overlooked but ignored relevant advice offered at the time.

While under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, the institution and its organizations were governed by the “Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act,” which, when it came into effect, repealed the earlier “Hotel and Tourism Institute Statute.” Hence, the Ministry of Tourism found itself with an institution overnight at the end of November 2007 but without a law, and subsequently no board could be appointed either, leaving the institution in legal limbo.

While under the education ministry, graduations were held on a regular basis but came to a halt when the institution found itself in a legal vacuum covering courses, et al.

In spite of these difficulties, the management of HTTI has, even in the absence of a formal board, made substantial efforts to increase student intake, make changes to courses, and improve facilities for students, but a return to “normality” can really only be achieved when a new enabling law has been passed by parliament. This, however, considering that there is now an election coming up and parliament is presently adjourned “sine die” for the holiday period, will only come about some time into the term of the next parliament and might take a year or more to achieve, to the detriment of the institution and the disadvantage of students paying the price for this unforgivable oversight by cabinet at the time.

Meanwhile it is understood that sections of the hospitality private sector have repeatedly tried to use the “vacuum situation” to “get their hands on the institute,” remarkable for an industry which, apart from a few really professionally-run hotels with their own internal training departments, has a notorious track record about in-house training and is known to consider it as a financial burden rather than creating human resource assets.