As part of the programme to nurture the next generation of academics, the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs (DVCAA) held the 11th PhD Dissemination series on 14th March 2014. The topic of the day “Do UNEB results predict competencies required to excel academically in Law School?” promised a good intellectual debate and indeed drew stakeholders from the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB), Office of the Academic Registrar, Makerere University as well as Staff, Students and members of the general public.
In his opening remarks, the Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Prof. Bernard Bashaasha who represented the DVCAA Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang, welcomed participants and stressed the importance of PhD Dissemination series as an avenue for breaking down complex research findings and formulae into understandable facts that the public can take home. He commended the day’s Presenter Dr. Robert Wamala for once again offering to disseminate his research.
To kick start his presentation, Dr. Wamala first of all clarified that the day’s presentation was not derived from his PhD thesis but rather from the combined work of several researchers and Masters Students. He further emphasized that his mission was not to give a yes or no answer to the question posed by the day’s topic but to present the facts for all present to digest. He noted that as a researcher, he was triggered by the 2011 findings of the School of Law that showed some candidates who had excelled with over 24 points at Advanced Level (A-Level) were not faring equally as well when it came to the more rigorous Law courses hence the introduction of the pre-entry examination.
“Looking at the mean entry points for Law showed that all these students qualified competently. But the question that remained was that were these students competent for Law? About 65% of enrollees did not do Literature while only 15% did not do History. The findings showed that those who did Literature, History and Divinity at A-Level had a higher Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) at graduation than those who did not,” observed Dr. Wamala in emphasis of the relevance of certain subjects as a precondition for excellence in Law School. He however noted a surprising reverse trend for students that came in with an A in Economics as the findings showed that they ended up with lower CGPAs compared to those who did not do it at A-Level.
He further noted that “Students on the Government entry scheme had a higher CGPA than those on private. The weighted score was highest among Government students, second highest among private day and lowest among the evening class. Results also showed that students in the 2006/7 cohort got lower CGPAs compared to those in the 2005/6 one. The question that arises then is; could it be that students in the later cohorts are increasingly taking on A-Level subjects that they can easily pass rather than those they require to excel academically in Law?” pondered Dr. Wamala.
As Dr. Wamala continued to share his findings, a question that gradually begged to be answered was that should we continue to use any best done of any A-Level subjects as the essential for Law School applicants? He then took time to also evaluate the 2012/13 cohorts that were admitted to Law School on the basis of the pre-entry exam unlike the previous examples which featured admission based on higher grades obtained at A-Level in any of the best done subjects. “When we assessed the students that came in on the basis of grades, the majority were female but when it came to those admitted on the basis of the pre-entry exam, the majority were male. Additionally, majority of those admitted on the basis of pre-entry had scored Bs unlike the previous case where majority of those admitted on the basis of grades had As,” shared Dr. Wamala in yet another interesting statistic.
Further examining the findings, he also noted that Ugandan students performed better in the pre-entry exam than their International counterparts while those with Bachelors degrees performed better than Mature Age, Diploma or Certificate holders in the same assessment. He however noted that the subjects taken at A-Level in no way predicted what students eventually scored in the pre-entry but surprisingly, those who did not do Literature at A-Level had higher scores in the pre-entry exam than those who did. From all these findings, Dr. Wamala had this to summarily share.
“Pre-entry exams are not meant to assess academic ability. They are meant to assess the mental or reasoning ability as applied to Law and so getting something statistically insignificant should not be a surprise. Similarly a comparison with complete first year results shows that pre-entry exam results in no way determine CGPA. The outcome of the pre-entry exams does not predict the competences required to excel academically in Law School although there are other factors it predicts,” concluded Dr. Wamala.
The topic discussant Dr. Saverio Pido-Head, Department of Research and Data, UNEB commended the researchers for indeed statistically proving that subject combinations like History, Literature in English and Divinity were indeed good predictors of academic excellence in Law School. “To me, these research findings suggest that pre-entry exams may not be the right tool to use as the sole basis for admission on the Law programme. On the other end, the A-Level results seem to predict the academic achievement as well as the competence required in Law,” Dr. Pido noted.
He also strongly agreed with the recommendation that History, Literature and Divinity should perhaps be used as essential subjects for selection and admission to Law School and therefore requested the School of Law and the University Senate to take this recommendation very seriously and revisit the decision use the pre-entry exam as the sole procedure for Law admissions.
Dr. Pido further shared that preliminary evidence from independent research undertaken by UNEB revealed that “There was a positive correlation between A-Level and predicting academic excellence at Law School, and that the University of Dar es Salaam that pioneered pre-entry exams has also dropped the scheme in favour of A-Level results.” He underscored the need to conduct further research in the process of training Law enrollees, as the findings so far had only investigated the input (A-Level results) and output (CGPA).
Quoting a famous Educator and Assessor Dr. Pido said “’Schools should not only provide opportunities for students to learn but should also ensure that the students take the opportunities and learn’ in other words, whatever inputs you have are supposed go through that process so that you mould them into what you want. We need the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) to come in as well especially on curriculum. What are we doing with these students in Secondary Schools?” he wondered. He concluded by agreeing that he found the research very useful and relevant to UNEB, MoES, National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), Makerere University and the School of Law.
In the reactions that followed from the audience, participants however cautioned stakeholders not to use the findings based on only one cohort of the pre-entry exam to make conclusive decisions about their efficiency. Contributions further emphasized the need to come up with a pre-entry exam that gauged applicants with the aim of admitting a student who would become a well-rounded professional at the end of the day. Commentators further stressed the need for the University to ensure that appropriate checks and balances are put in place to guarantee that the pre-entry exam gives valid and reliable results.
Other comments that came in from students of statistics thanked Dr. Wamala for ably demonstrating how they could apply the various formulae and theories they learn in class to validate the data that is daily being accumulated by society, thereby helping communities to make informed decisions. The tables however turned on the National Board when commentators noted the issue of examination leakages and also stressed that the only reason why Universities needed pre-entry exams was due to the facts that the A-Level students were not performing as excellently at University as they did at Secondary level. In defence of UNEB Dr. Pido stressed that the Board had put in place several restrictions to reduce examination leakages to almost non-existence and challenged those with evidence to bring it forward. He however admitted that there were still some forms of exam malpractice recorded, which were not only unique to UNEB but also common at other Institutions.
More officials from UNEB present further elucidated on negative correlations on performance in pre-entry exams attributed to subjects like History. They noted that this could be due to a growing trend by A-Level candidates to opt for those papers that were easier to pass hence gunning for grades rather than competencies that would build a good foundation for the studying Law. They therefore requested future researchers to further examine the relationship between any reported negative correlations and the History paper sat for. Other members of the audience further stressed the need to have well-trained teachers at all levels who would then equip students to become good candidates for professional shaping by Universities. The gap in facilitation between rural and urban schools was also noted as great contributor to the differences in quality of candidates eventually admitted to Higher Education Institutions.
The Chairperson of the day’s session and Dean-School of Statistics and Planning, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) Dr. Atuhaire Leonard commended the former DVCAA Prof. Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza for initiating the PhD dissemination series. “Quite a lot of research is being done in this University but not many of us get to learn what our peers are doing because we tend to publish in specialized journals,” he noted. He therefore commended the current DVCAA for carrying on the good tradition of according researchers a dissemination forum.
Regarding the day’s topic, Dr. Atuhaire noted that “it would be interesting to find out how competencies required for all other different programmes in the University do predict performance once students have been admitted. This research is something that can be replicated across other programmes and we look forward to this.” He concluded the day’s proceedings by thanking the Presenter, audience, discussant-Dr. Pido and other officials from UNEB for contributing to the topic.
Article by Public Relations Office
Rotary International President visits Mak
Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta has appreciated Makerere University for supporting and carrying forward the newly introduced programme aimed at advancing peace on the African Continent. Launched in January 2020, the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University runs a postgraduate diploma programme in Peace-building and Conflict Transformation. The hands-on program entails coursework that addresses topics including human rights, governance, and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.
At a high level meeting held with the University leadership on 15th September 2021 at CTF1, President Shekhar Mehta said Rotary International was proud to be partnering with Makerere to promote peace on the African Continent. “The mere absence of war does not translate into total peace. Besides war, there are many other factors undermining peaceful co-existence. It is our duty to address these issues so as to create harmony in our communities. Through the Rotary Peace Centres across the globe, we are undertaking a number of initiatives aimed at promoting peace. Since 2002, the Rotary Peace Centres have trained more than 1,300 fellows who are working to advance peace in more than 115 countries. We are happy to work with Makerere University to foster peace and development on the African Continent,” he noted. President Shekhar Mehta, who was on a three-day tour of Rotary projects in Uganda, was visiting Makerere for the first time since the University won the bid to host the International Rotary Peace Centre, the first of its kind on the African Continent.
President Shekhar Mehta, who was in company of past and current Governors of Districts 9213 and 9214, said peace was a necessary catalyst for the progress of humanity and general development of nation states across the globe. Elected for the 2021-22 term, President Shekhar Mehta, through his year theme Serve to Change Lives, asks Rotarians to participate in service projects where they can make a difference in their communities and the people who live in them. Since he joined Rotary in 1984 as a member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, President Shekhar Mehta has led many major service initiatives in India and South Asia, including among others, constructing 500 homes for Tsunami survivors at Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and starting the Shelter Kit programme in India which has served about 20 disasters and benefited about 75,000 disaster victims.
Delivering her remarks, the Chairperson Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara appreciated Rotary International for entrusting Makerere University with the mandate to host the first rotary peace centre on the African Continent. “Choosing to house the Centre at Makerere University shows Rotary International’s trust and confidence in Makerere and her vision for building for the future. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of Rotary International’s agenda. We also sincerely appreciate Rotarians all over the world who have committed funds to support the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University,” she noted. Similarly, she appreciated The Rotary Foundation (TRF) of Canada for setting up an endowment fund for the Peace Centre. “This will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the Peace Centre at Makerere University. The fund will help in the Capstone week where Fellows will present their social initiatives. These initiatives will showcase how the Rotary Peace Centre contributes to positive peace initiatives all over the world.”
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe informed the President that the decision to establish the first Rotary Peace Centre in Africa at Makerere University was welcomed with ‘excitement and gratefulness’. “We consider this to be a vote of confidence in our efforts in the peace and conflict resolution agenda. We extend our appreciation to Rotarians in Uganda and beyond for selflessly supporting this noble cause.” The Vice Chancellor appreciated the leadership of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere, and the Director of the Centre, Dr Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala for their tireless efforts in ensuring the centre achieves the intended objective.
By the end of this year, the Centre will have hosted two cohorts of peace fellows. The first cohort was at Makerere University between February and May, 2021. Currently, these Peace fellows are carrying out their peace initiatives in their communities. The second cohort will report on September 27, 2021. In both cohorts, Peace Fellows were chosen from 20 countries and by the end of the year, the Centre will have had a total of 36 Fellows.
Intentionality Key to Nurturing More Women Leaders
The Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD), Makerere University on 14th September 2021 presented findings from phase one of the study on Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research. The study team led by the Director GMD and Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine also consists of Assoc. Prof. Consolata Kabonesa, Dr. Anna Ninsiima, Ms. Frances Nyachwo, Ms. Susan Mbabazi and Mr. Eric Tumwesigye.
The team is also made of coordinators from participating Universities such as Busitema University-Ms. Elizabeth Birabwa, Kabale University-Sr. Dr. Eva Tumusiime, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)-Dr. Specioza Twinamasiko, Muni University-Ms. Amandru Stella Wawa, and Gulu Univeristy-Sr. Rosalba Aciro.
Funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the study was inspired by the fact that women are persistently few in numbers as staff, more so in leadership and decision-making organs of Ugandan Public Universities. “This is despite all the various efforts at national and international levels; the numbers are not growing as fast as needed to meet development goals of the country” explained Dr. Euzobia.
Based on this background, the study team therefore sought to conduct a situational analysis of the gender terrain of the six public universities to obtain baseline information encompassing the composition of governance and leadership organs and senior staff by sex, as well as a needs assessment and profiles of potential mentors and mentees.
Furthermore, the team sought to explore the capacity to conduct gender-responsive research as well as the role of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions within the universities as the drivers of development.
Dr. Mugisha-Baine shared that results of the baseline would then be used to design participatory training manuals or guides on gender and leadership. The manuals would cover; Institutionalized mentorship, How to conduct gender-responsive research, gender and equity budgeting, among others.
“Within these manuals, we shall have a male staff engagement strategy in gender equity interventions in universities” she explained.
The development of the aforementioned materials would then be followed by their adoption and use to build capacity for women not only in leadership of participating and other public university but also beyond. “We shall periodically evaluate whether the capacity we have built has influenced women’s participation in leadership and decision-making organs of the university” supplemented the PI.
The capacity building trainings for women, it is envisaged, will lay the foundation for the formation of a functional Uganda University Women’s Think Tank, starting with the six participating universities. Dr. Mugisha Baine added that through this Think Tank, a monitoring and tracking system for gender representation in recruitment, promotion, retention/turnover and leadership of public universities shall be established and maintained.
At the conclusion of phase one, the study team had drafted participatory training manuals in gender and leadership with content on; gender specific critical analysis of the leadership spectrum of public universities, positioning of individual women within the institutional framework and strategies for their advancement, gender equity advocacy in the university setting, institutional mentorship, building capacity in conducting gender-responsive research, among others.
“This content will be validated by the participating universities before the actual research training is conducted” added the PI.
On behalf of the research team, Dr. Mugisha Baine thanked the Government of Uganda for providing the resources that facilitated phase one of the study and prayed that the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) would support the next phase of capacity building.
Speaking on behalf of the Mak-RIF GMC Chairperson, Prof. William Bazeyo, Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala thanked and congratulated the team led by the Director GMD upon the milestones registered in the critical research.
“We are very proud of that work that is being done by all researchers in Mak-RIF and we would like to most sincerely thank Management for all the support throughout this process” she remarked.
Dr. Nkabala encouraged the research team to continue disseminating and using the findings for the furtherance of gender mainstreaming, particularly through the aspect of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions.
Prior to delivering the keynote address of the day, the Executive Director National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Prof. Mary Okwakol thanked the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for inviting her to the important forum, noting that women’s participation in decision making and governance is a priority area of the Uganda Gender Policy 2007.
She commended Makerere University for being at the forefront of gender mainstreaming in Uganda, noting that this prominence was one of the reasons why the Gender in Education Policy 2007 provides for replicating the institution’s strategy in all other Higher Education Institutions.
Prof. Okwakol whose keynote address was punctuated incisive personal examples reaffirmed the statistics that women are generally not visible in leadership of Universities. That notwithstanding, in instances where they rise to leadership and decision-making positions, they are regularly subject to roles traditionally deemed as women’s inconsiderate of their managerial seniority and experience.
She nevertheless rallied the women to play their respective roles in enhancing participation and visibility at a personal level. The following were some of the strategies she proposed; work hard to acquire academic credentials so as to compete favourably with men, acquire necessary administrative training and experience, network among women, join professional networks as well as do research and publish.
On joining professional networks, she shared her personal experience as a young zoologist who joined UNESCO’s Tropical Biology and Fertility Programme. “Within a short time I was appointed Coordinator for Africa and after two years, I was elected as a Member of the International Board of Management. After serving for two years, I became Vice Chairperson of that Board and finally I became Chairperson of that International Board.”
At the institutional level, Prof. Okwakol appealed to the Chairperson Council and Vice Chancellor to proactively recruit women who meet the requirements for leadership positions even if it means actively seeking out the reluctant ones. In this regard, she shared that it would be useful for the university to develop a database of women and their qualifications to ease this process.
She shared that NCHE has in recognition of female underrepresentation at every level in Higher Education approved the establishment of a Gender and Equity Unit with the aim of promoting inclusive gender participation in the sub-sector.
“This unit has been placed under the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation which implies that as we look out for and regulate quality, gender will be a very important aspect of that regulation” she reassured.
Prof. Okwakol concluded by urging participants to read the; Third National Development Plan (NDPIII), Uganda Vision 2040, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) noting that there is no way all three can be achieved while women are left behind because they each make a case for inclusion of the female gender.
“What we are addressing here are historical injustices” said Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as he commenced his remarks, “And in the case of Makerere University, it is well known that the institution started as a male-only institution and we all know the original motto was ‘Let us be men’” he added.
Citing examples from history such as; Marie Curie – one of the smartest physicists, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra – prominent Pharaohs of Egypt, George Eliot, Rosa Luxemburg and Hypatia – all great philosophers as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel – first female Chancellor of Germany, the Vice Chancellor said there is no plausible argument that there are things women cannot do as well as their male counterparts.
He said it was against this knowledge and in a bid to correct historical injustices that Makerere University pioneered initiatives such as putting in place affirmative action for girls, establishing a Gender Mainstreaming Directorate as well as a School of Women and Gender Studies. The Vice Chancellor nevertheless stressed the need to go beyond pioneering to protecting these gains through legislation. “Historically we have seen that discrimination can only be addressed by laws and policies.”
Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Government for providing funds to support Mak-RIF as well as the Funds GMC and Secretariat for ensuring that these funds are put to good use. He equally thanked the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara for her not only her support but also sparing time to attend a good number of the research dissemination events.
Delivering the concluding remarks, Mrs. Magara acknowledged that the study was timely and relevant the contemporary University, as one of the critical drivers of the national and international development agenda. She therefore reechoed the Vice Chancellor’s thanks to the Government of Uganda for generously supporting the University’s research through Mak-RIF.
Turning to the keynote speaker she said, “I thank Prof. Okwakol for ardently discussing the critical issues affecting the female gender, the strategies to overcome the challenges, including sharing her inspiring personal experiences.”
Mrs. Magara equally thanked Prof. Okwakol for her very instructional analysis, providing mentorship guidance with the resultant impact of enhancing the female gender in decision-making positions. In the same breath she congratulated the PI and her team upon successfully concluding phase one of the project.
“Phase one has generated insights in understanding the status of women in leadership in public universities, the legal and policy framework and its implications on women’s visibility, the institutional mentoring systems and the gaps therein” she observed.
The Chairperson of Council acknowledged that the challenge of underrepresentation of women in leadership roles cannot be resolved at an individual level. She therefore advocated for broad based strategies that can address deep-seated structural and cultural biases facing women. “These include developing mentorship networks, enacting laws and policies that address the imbalances and providing training programmes to address the leadership gaps.”
She therefore pledged the University Council’s unwavering support to the Gender Mainstreaming Programme by ensuring an enabling policy environment that facilitates gender-responsive teaching, learning, research innovation and community service.
The research dissemination was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ms. Ritah Namisango and the Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and PRO Mak-RIF, Ms. Harriet Adong.
Section Editors & Associate Editors Wanted-CABI Agriculture & Biosciences Journal
The CABI Agriculture and Biosciences Journal (CABI A&B) is still in search of both Associate Editors to join the CABI A&B Editorial Board, as well as a Regional Editor-in-Chief to lead for Africa in addition to serving as a Section Editor in the area of either Environmental and SOIL SCIENCE, AGROECOLOGY, OR AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES. Ideally CABI wants Section Editors (SE) who are prominent members of their research communities, with high-level established positions at a research institution, with a strong, current record of international collaborations and publication, with an H-index of at least 25. For Associate Editors (AE) we hope for researchers who have with established positions at a research institution (e.g., not post-docs or Ph.D. candidates), with a strong growing record of international collaborations and publication (e.g., around 8 publications in the past two years), and have an H-index of at least 15.
Very importantly, CABI hopes for SEs and AEs who are good communicators and are passionate about serving and building the journal to be an outlet for both large and small steps of sound science that will improve the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide.
Please see Downloads for the CABI EDITORIAL DIRECTORY
Interested applicants should email PHILIPPA J. BENSON, PH.D. MANAGING EDITOR | _CABI A&B | P.BENSON[at]CABI.ORG
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