The Aga Khan University in Uganda yesterday held its first graduation ceremony with 57 graduands.
Margaret Mukobe and Samuel Musoke were awarded Masters degrees in education from Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.
Three nurses were awarded diplomas for an advanced nursing studies programme while 52 others received certificates in education for enhancement of Universal Primary Education and education management.
Minister for the presidency Gilbert Bukenya who was the guest of honour hailed the university for the nursing programme. He said there is a high demand for nurses overseas.
"The country earns substantial foreign exchange from Ugandans who do odd jobs (kyeyo). We can earn a lot from exporting skilled manpower. I think this university is a gold mine for Uganda," he said.
Bukenya said the government has liberalised education through allowing private institutions in order to enable Ugandans to have access to education. "We must not do this at the expense of quality," he said.
He said Aga Khan University's nursing programme will help reduce the nurse to patient ratio in Uganda. He said that in 1996 the ratio was one nurse to 3,900 patients, this year it is one nurse to 2,800 patients. "We are aiming at one nurse to 1,000 patients in 2006, and you are going to help us do this," he said.
The president of Aga Khan University, Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, said the nurses and teacher education programmes were aimed at developing skills and career advancement opportunities for professionals in East Africa.
He said the university aims at bringing education services closer to people. "Some universities internationalise themselves by simply admitting foreign students. AKU [Aga Khan University] internationalises by taking the campus to students in their home countries," he said.
Shamsh said admission to the, unlike some private universities, is based on merit. "Admission is based strictly upon merit," he said.
He said nursing was identified as a critical human resource need by his highness the Aga Khan and a regional nursing programme in East Africa was launched. The university has admitted 43 students for nursing next academic year.
Shamsh thanked the Ugandan government for giving the Aga Khan University accreditation for advanced nursing programmes. The university has also received accreditation from the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments to start the programme there.