Student leaders from different Universities in the country in conjunction with the Youth Line Forum (YLF) have launched a campaign aimed at reviving the student movement and spirit of activism among university students in East Africa.
The campaign dubbed Generation Next (Gnext) is an initiative designed as a regional program to promote the emergence of active University scholarship.
YLF revealed that the idea is to create a strong movement of University scholars across the East African region that can defend their rights and stand in solidarity with each other on shared objectives.
YLF Technical Director, Ruth Asiimwe noted that the Initiative will focus on establishment of a mechanism for regular interface between university activists across the East African region, revive the spirit of activism in Universities across the region and create a coordinated protection mechanism for student activists.
Addressing the media in Kampala, the Guild President, Law Development Centre (LDC) Moses Byamugisha said that despite student movements providing a training ground for next crop of leaders in the region, there has been a decline in the spirit of activism within the high institutions of learning.
Byamugisha said that the spirit of activism among students has been affected by the rise in restrictions on civic space which is mainly manifested through the enactment of retrogressive legislations targeting civic activism such as the Public Order and Management Act and the violent crackdown on demonstrations, arrests, threats and intimidation of people.
“We have unfortunately witnessed a crackdown against civil society organizations, university student movements, youth movements and political formations in Uganda,” Byamugisha said.
The student leader noted that notably students have been beaten, harassed, intimidated and arrested; universities have been captured by administration leadership, military deployment at the universities to quell any student upraising which all has killed the spirit of activism among students.
Byamugisha believes that it’s time for all students’ movements and their leaders to unite, mobilize and organize to critic bad leadership and governance in the region.
Alex Semambo a student leader from Makerere school of Law said that through the initiative of Gnext, they pledge to revive the spirit of activism and recommit to speak out as well as remaining a force to reckon with which will be an imminent fear by state authorities.
“We ask students to speak truth to power, identify issues, speak and act about them. We also ask students to do individual journalism, identify and injustice, capture evidence and share widely,” Semambo said.
Anita Komugisha a student leader from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) said that the spirit of activism shall be revived among students by ensuring that the students are equipped with adequate information and knowledge concerning their rights and responsibilities.
“We call upon the other actors including parents, universities, civil society, religious leaders, advocates and general public to give moral support, guidance and stand with us as we embark on this campaign,” Komugisha said.