Educationists, friends, and family of the renowned founder of the St. Lawrence Institutions, the late Professor Lawrence Mukiibi, have paid him tribute at an inaugural memorial lecture, held at St Lawrence University in Kampala.
The theme of the lecture was “Entrepreneurial Education, a pathway to a sustainable livelihood”.
A keynote lecture was delivered by Prof. Augustus Nuwagaba, an international consultant on economic transformation with a wealth of central bank monetary policy on commercial bank competitiveness.
Besides hailing the achievements of Prof. Mukiibi, there was a panel of discussants that included Prof. Badru Kateregga, the Vice Chancellor at Kampala University, Mr Raymond Musiima, and Prof. Charles Ssekyewa among others who debated and discussed the need to vocationalise Uganda’s education system.
On the person of Prof. Mukiibi, Dr Mike Ssebalu, the chairperson of the University Council said the late not only existed but also each and every aspect of his life was a lecture of its own.
Sebalu said that men like Mukiibi should be celebrated, remembered and treasured because of their influence and impact on the country, especially in the education sector.
“In Prof. Mukiibi’s life, you would get a lecture on commitment, hard work, resilience, purpose, consistency and simplicity, aspects which created an influence on many across the country hence setting an agenda and a trend,” Sebalu noted.
He added: “The man we are celebrating this afternoon belongs to categories of great men and tribute is the best thing that could have happened at this point in his life. If you unpack the life of Professor Mukiibi, every aspect of it is a lecture of its own.”
Dr. Ssebalu said that Prof. Mukiibi who started the university and many St. Lawrence schools and colleges impacted many lives and in the process, his legacy will forever live.
He commended the family for keeping the candle burning and for standing strong and standing out of the crowd.
Presently made up of eight school campuses, St Lawrence Schools and Colleges were established in 1993. The first campus, Kabaka’s Lake, started with only six students.
However, even when the numbers grew and people imagined he and the schools were making lots of money, Mukiibi’s simplicity wasn’t faltered.
Mukiibi mostly wore simple suits and, during celebrations, it was mostly matching the colours of Kabaka’s lake and Creamland campus uniforms – cream trousers, a short-sleeved white shirt, and a maroon blazer and tie – the joke was that he ordered the suits at the same place where he ordered for the uniforms.
In his remarks, Professor Nuwagaba said, “Prof. Mukibi’s life and legacy as a teacher, educator, and leader of several higher educational institutions, is nothing short of astounding. Today we celebrate a life profoundly lived and a legacy worth emulating”.
Shedding more light on the theme, Prof. Nuwagaba Augustus emphasized the need to introduce a duo education framework in the country as it is in Germany and China “because this will help in solving the issue of job scarcity.”
He raised concern over many educated individuals losing interest in and shunning Uganda’s politics.
“My appeal is, if the educated leave politics for others, no one will solve the country’s problems hence the suffering due to politicians that make poor decisions as a result of having little knowledge,” he explained.
Nuwagaba added that countries in Europe have consistently developed because of people who are managing society and knowing what to do “and it’s high time Ugandans adopted it.”
He added that Prof. Mukiibi was an icon of Uganda’s education sector.
“There’s no way you can talk about Uganda’s education sector without talking about the St. Lawrence Empire of schools. He built this empire from scratch and was able to mobilize resources and put up this empire as you can see,” Prof. Nuwagaba said.
Dr. Sarah Nkonge Muwonge, a vice chairperson of St. Lawrence University’s Council and school proprietor, said Prof Mukiibi was a mentor of most of the private schools.
“He was a voice. He took us to President Museveni when we had issues with multiple taxes and licenses and we managed to convince him.”
“Today as we celebrate our icon, we remember that he is a man who initiated private education and we thank the family for maintaining the legacy of this great man,” she added.
In his remarks, Mr Semakula Peter the Resident Director of St. Lawrence University said that Prof. Mukiibi’s passion is undisputed and building an empire of 7 learning institutions and solving the problem of job hunting by introducing Entrepreneurial education is something that will keep his legacy for many generations to come.
Semakula added that the succession plan of introducing his children to his business was also an added advantage “because, by the time of his demise, we were into the system and familiar with everything.”