SPEECH BY THE CHANCELLOR, PROFESSOR VENANSIUS BARYAMUREEBA AT THE INNAUGURAL GRADUATION CEREMONY OF IBANDA UNIVERSITY held on Friday 24th November 2017

The Guest of Honour
Ministers and Honorable Members of Parliament Present
Distinguished Government Officials
Vice Chancellors of other Universities Present
Religious Leaders and Judicial Officers Present
Chairperson Board of Directors and other Directors of Ibanda University
Distinguished People from Ibanda in your respective capacities
Chairperson of University Council and Members of Council
Vice Chancellor and Members of Management of Ibanda University
Members of Senate of Ibanda University
Staff and Students of Ibanda University
Parents and Graduands
The Media
Distinguished Invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I was born and raised in Kasharara village, Kagongo parish, Ibanda district. Immediately after finishing S.6 at St. Leo’s College, Kyegobe in March 1991, I started teaching Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at Ibanda Secondary School right from S.2 up to S.6.  This continued throughout the time I was doing my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Makerere University. In August 1995, I left for University of Bergen to study Master of Science in Computer Science and PhD in Computer Science. For the period March 1991 up to August 1995, I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every week teaching at Ibanda Secondary School. Also from October 1994, I was appointed as a Teaching Assistant at Makerere University and the following year in January 1995, I was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer at the Institute of Teacher Education Kyambogo, now Kyambogo University. So I had to juggle studies with work at two universities/Institutions and Ibanda Secondary School. However, my sweat was not in vain. Some of the students I taught at Ibanda Secondary School went on to become doctors, engineers, and scientists to mention but a few and some continued with further studies and acquired PhDs. So my commitment to improving the education system in Ibanda District is unquestionable. Therefore, with a deep sense of duty and commitment, I accept to serve as Chancellor of Ibanda University. I accept it without any reservations and I promise to devote every effort of body, mind and spirit to lead Ibanda University to greatness.

Over the years, I have held several key positions in the education sector and other sectors in Uganda and across the globe. This has enabled me to build networks I shall rely on as we embark on this great journey of making Ibanda University one of the best universities in Africa.

Ibanda University is surrounded by many secondary schools that pass out over 2000 students with Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) every year. These should be tapped into and encouraged to join certificate, diploma and degree programmes taught at Ibanda University. Also Ibanda University has the potential to attract students from other parts of Uganda and neighbouring countries especially the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi. High student enrollment at Ibanda University is not only good for Ibanda University but also for the local business community and the people of Ibanda as this will lead to increased demand by the students for accommodation and food among others. So it is important for all of us to take it as our personal responsibility to publicise Ibanda University and recommend students to study at Ibanda University.

Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB), for which I am Chairperson of the Board offers another avenue to institutions like Ibanda University to provide business, technical and vocational education at certificate and diploma levels. UBTEB is a Government institution that is responsible for national assessment in business, technical and vocational disciplines at certificate and diploma levels and has over 400 accredited certificate and diploma programmes and Ibanda University needs to acquire a UBTEB Centre Number to be able to run some of these programmes. There are many students who want to branch into vocational education immediately after obtaining Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) to enroll on a certificate programme leading to the award of Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) Certificate. So I strongly encourage Ibanda University to apply for UBTEB Centre Number and establish a School for Vocational Education to coordinate, manage and run UBTEB programmes.

Ibanda University presents all of us (the local and central government, religious institutions, private sector and citizens) an opportunity to fast track socio-economic development of Ibanda and neighboring districts. The areas for potential partnership include health, education, agriculture and business development.

In the area of health services, Ibanda University should form partnerships with Ibanda hospital, Ruhoko hospital and other (private) hospitals and clinics.  The hospitals and clinics will provide the training facilities for Ibanda University School of Medicine. In turn, Ibanda University will avail its qualified medical doctors and other health professionals to serve as consultants in the partnering hospitals and clinics.

In the area of education, Ibanda University needs to form partnerships with schools, hospitals, institutions and local governments in Ibanda District and neighbouring districts with the aim of providing flexible and affordable quality education to their employees/students. This will necessitate Ibanda University to start running evening, weekend, block release and holiday programmes in addition to the fulltime day programmes.

In the area of agriculture, Ibanda University needs to form partnerships with the private sector and government to enhance agricultural innovations and value chain development. The students and staff of Ibanda University have a great role to play in implementation of these partnerships. The agricultural sector is and still remains the largest employment sector in the country and Ibanda University should work with all stakeholders to create jobs in the agricultural value chain.

Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships. It entails tasks and processes to develop and implement growth opportunities within and between organizations. Therefore, the staff and students especially business students have a great role to play in enabling business development in Ibanda district and neighbouring districts. Ibanda University in partnership with Ibanda District and the business community needs to set up a business incubation and innovation centre that can incubate good innovations and lead to new businesses and jobs.

Ibanda University right from the onset needs to avoid ivory tower mentality and ensure that its curricula and programmes are designed in such a way that its staff and students spend at least one-third of their time working with the communities. It is important for the University to identify community challenges and provide possible solutions. Student projects and staff research should be anchored on community challenges.

Ibanda University cannot work in isolation; it needs partners locally, regionally and globally. Global education networks have made it possible for universities to share learning resources, teachers, libraries etc. like never before. The starting point for Ibanda University is to identify key networks and subscribe to them to become a member. This will not only raise the university’s profile and public image but will also create linkages that will enable it to undertake ground breaking research and innovations.

As they say “charity begins at home”; Ibanda has great sons and daughters in many high profile positions in Uganda and beyond. Let us rally them to support Ibanda University in various capacities. We need to also rally academicians from across the globe especially those who have retired to support Ibanda University from wherever they are. For those who can spend a short period at Ibanda campus should also be encouraged and supported to do so.

I would like to inform the Graduands of today that success is a journey and not an event.  There is a lot that you need to work on going forward. But I will point out two areas each one of you should take seriously and work on. That is your attitude and networks. Keeping a positive attitude will set you on the path to success but your networks will determine your net worth.  For example, a famer or trader in Ibanda who has access to only Ibanda market cannot be compared to one who has access to the Ugandan, East African, African or global market (s). Now the price of a bunch of matoke depends on where its being sold from? The price will differ from town to town and from country to country.  For example, in the United Kingdom a bunch of matoke from Uganda goes for 100 times the price in Kampala. But for it to enter the UK market it must meet the United Kingdom quality standards. The same thing applies to you as Graduands; you will only be able to sell your education and build networks if and if you have attained quality education. So to the staff and students, mind about the quality of your graduates, services, research and innovations.

Even in real life, our net worth depends on the company we keep (our networks), and our global reach. If you keep in a company of gamblers you will gradually become a gambler. We need to overcome our limitations and excel from wherever we are.  For example, from the comfort of my house in Kampala, I am able to undertake consultancies globally. But also my networks which are an indication of my net worth are global. But I did not get there over night. I had to acquire academic qualifications, gain experience with reputable institutions, hold senior management positions and exceptionally undertake reference consultancy assignments.  It all started with me making the first step and gradually building my reputation and career.

In life each one of us has his or her story to tell. Each one of us needs a motivator to succeed? What is it that motivates you to work hard; to never give up; to persevere; to never lose faith?

In my case it was a combination of factors. First of all, my father called me ‘’Baryamureeba—They will see him’’ and he always told me that I was born to be great. He always told me to study hard and excel and I never let him down. On the other hand, from the time I joined S1 and up to S6, my mother would walk me from home in Kasharara village to Ibanda town, a distance of about 3 miles carrying my suitcase and mattress on her head instead of using my Daddy’s Raleigh Bicycle to catch a bus to St. Leo’s College in Fort Portal. Whatever she shared with me on these journeys made us bond and motivated me to work harder each passing day and I still remember those fond memories of my mother. Actually, when my mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, I told her that I was ready to do anything to keep her alive, which I did but at the end of a painful six months she passed on to be with the Lord. Even today, I still do great works in order to honour the memories of my great parents.

It is important for children to have great parents in their lives as they grow up. If any one of you has missed out on that, its not too late to start over with your parents. Parents take your parental role seriously because it will shape and mold your children into who they will be in the future.

Other than motivation from family there is a lot out there that should motivate us.  For example, I studied from Buryansungwe Primary School, St. Leo’s college Kyegobe, Makerere University and University of Bergen. I want my children to go to the best schools/ institutions in the world. I was never provided with start up capital by parents but I want to do it for my children so that they can have a good start in life. This requires a lot of money and I am motivated to work harder.

I also want to go down in history as someone who rose from humble beginnings and became one of the most revered global personalities.  This motivates me everyday to work even harder, to persevere, to never give up and to never lose faith.

Fellow Graduands of class 2017, what is it that is going to propel you to success? The answer lies within you. But always remember that people with small targets always dream small and people with big dreams always dream big.  Free yourself from all sorts of limitations and not only dream big but also work harder and you shall succeed beyond measure.

For any University to succeed it needs good students, staff, management, senate, council, and directors. Let me thank all of you for a job well done.

For God and my country, I thank you.