Assoc. Prof. Steven Allan Nyanzi is the reigning Chairperson of the Makerere University Ceremonies Committee, a position he has held for the last 5 years. Dr. Nyanzi took over from the former Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Prof. Tickodri Togboa. He holds a First Class Doctor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Karlsruhe (Germany), a Master of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Nairobi and a Bachelor of Science degree with a Concurrent Diploma in Education from Makerere University. Below he shares his experience and thoughts of the Makerere University Graduation Ceremony with Marion Alina.
As Chairperson of Ceremonies Committee, Dr. Nyanzi works with a committed team of about 20 Members of the Committee. In planning each graduation, more members are co-opted including the College Communication Officers, Public Relations Office, Vice Chancellor’s Office and Staff from other units. “I was a College representative to Senate but Prof. Baryamureeba, the then Acting Vice Chancellor believed that I could Chair the Ceremonies Committee. My name was proposed and I was unanimously elected by Senate,” says the Senator.
Changes in Graduation at Mak
With more students graduating each year, Dr. Nyanzi reveals that the next graduation ceremony will be organized and conducted by the Colleges but in liaison with the Ceremonies Committee. The College-based Graduation ceremonies will still be presided over by the Chancellor, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera. “A recent sitting of Senate approved that graduation ceremonies be moved to Colleges to cut costs. Each graduation costs us between 500m- I billion shillings. The College-based graduation ceremony will require less personnel and will be easier to manage with smaller numbers of graduating students. We think it might also be less costly, especially if some Colleges combine their graduation ceremonies. The College Administration will fully exercise its autonomy on this issue and also identify a convenient place within the University to conduct its graduation ceremony. We welcome further proposals on this shift,” he explains.
The Makerere University Graduation ceremony is a big national event, with between 13,000 – 14,000 students graduating. Each graduand is allowed to invite a maximum of two people as witnesses of this special day. By implication, each graduation ceremony sits over 35,000 people spread throughout the graduation duration. Giant screens, a powerful public address system, huge tents, entertainment, high-level security deployment and refreshments are some of the items that heavily draw on the budget. “I used to think Graduation is a simple event but I have come to learn that there are a number of people who work so hard to make it a success. These include the unsung heroes in the Registrar’s Department who compile names and proof read the draft graduation booklet, the University printery which edits the graduation booklet, the security team and other categories of people,” he adds. In some cases, the graduation has not gone smoothly, necessitating printing of addendum lists of graduating students. Dr. Nyanzi says this delay starts from the Departments that are supposed to submit marks on time, and spills over to all the other processes. He nonetheless admits that some Departments have timely submissions, but the process cannot be complete until all submissions have been made.
Dr. Nyanzi is grateful that after the 64th Graduation ceremony, January 2014, the Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu hosted a thank-you dinner at his residence and invited most of the people who made this graduation a success. “This was the first recognition of its kind and we hope the practice is maintained. The 64th Graduation was indeed unique because for the first time, we had more female students, 50.3% graduating, compared to the 49.7% male students. It is said that once you educate a girl child you prepare the nation for better times. I am glad we are having more female graduates. It is also at this graduation that the Vice Chancellor insisted that the ceremony be held in four days as opposed to the usual 5 days, to cut costs. Indeed we saved some money. He had also proposed that we hold the 65th graduation in 2 days but this became impossible, so we will have it spread over three days. Prof. Ddumba-Ssentamu will leave behind a legacy of cutting costs, so that the money is diverted to other wanting areas. He is a true economist and we appreciate this,” he says.
Makerere University has also witnessed an increase in the number of students graduating with Masters and doctorate (PhD) degrees. Dr. Nyanzi is bothered that most of the research work of this category of graduates is not funded by government. “During graduation you hear funders from Sweden, Norway, Germany, South Africa and the like, a sign that they have confidence in what we do. But you hardly hear of funding from Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education or other Government entities and yet there are important areas for us as a nation that Government can choose to fund. We need people in Government to realize that there is value in ‘growing your own timber,’ if I am to borrow the words of Prof. Mamdani,” he says emphatically. “I am also pleasantly surprised by the increasing number of people who graduate in the distance education mode. I know that State Minister for Mineral Development Hon. Peter Lokeris, the first lady Hon. Janet Museveni and other important personalities have benefitted from this arrangement and I sincerely appreciate the efforts of our colleagues in Distance Education,” he adds.
Employment for Graduates
With Makerere University sending over 13,000 trained graduates each year to the already strained job market, the scare of insufficient jobs continues to worry many. “We need to think of how to skill students from an early age and make the curricula more practical to Uganda’s needs, lest we risk having a mass of disgruntled youth. It is up to Government to agree that the curricula is not serving the purpose and change it as soon as yesterday, right from Kindergarten,” Dr. Nyanzi reasons.
Makerere University also awards Honorary doctorates to outstanding members of society. The names of Such individuals are suggested by a College or School and forwarded to Senate for approval. “An Honorary doctorate is usually awarded to someone whose work is defendable and self explanatory as is the case with H.E. Mwai Kibaki the former President of Kenya and H.E. Yoweri Museveni the President of Uganda. Senators take time to debate the choices before the award is given,” he explains. Dr. Nyanzi believes that the awards also need to target other categories of people who have delivered exceptional services. “For example Dr. Mathew Lukwiya who lost his life saving ebola patients could be awarded an honorary doctorate posthumously. Fortunately, Senate has set up a special Committee to identify people who should be recognized. There are a number of women fighters like Rhoda Kalema who have fought for the rights of the girl child. The School of Women and Gender Studies or the Directorate of Gender Mainstreaming can propose such names with ample justification.”
The Chemist is now thinking of retiring from the responsibility of Chairperson Ceremonies Committee and focusing on mentoring students and his research. “I am looking at how to purify water for the benefit of people with low incomes, especially in the remote settings. I also have interest in projects on cancer research, alternative energy sources like biofuels, and environmental conservation,” he says with a sparkle in the eye.
Dr. Steven Allan Nyanzi is grateful to all categories of Staff for the team work that has seen Makerere University successfully conduct graduation ceremonies. He remains optimistic that this high level team work will be maintained as Makerere University continues to scale the heights.
Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda calls for full involvement of men and boys in achieving Gender Equality
The Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda Her Excellence Maria Håkansson has emphasized the need to fully engage men and boys in all the initiatives geared towards achieving Gender Equality in Uganda and other parts of the world. She said this on 28th November 2023 at a press conference organized by the Embassy of Sweden in close collaboration with Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to unveil the National Orange Pledge campaign and officially launch the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The press conference was headlined by a Ugandan rapper and record producer Daniel Lubwama Kigozi, popularly known by his stage name Navio and his fellow from Sweden Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu. Over 200 students both male and female from Makerere University and other institutions of higher learning attended the press conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds.
According to Her Excellence Maria Håkansson, Gender Equality cannot be achieved without involving men and boys to take their responsibilities and be the drivers of change. “For real change to happen, we need to change attitudes and norms that might cause Gender Based Violence, one of the social ills in Uganda and an extreme of gender inequality that occurs at all levels of society,” she said.
Referring to the national survey conducted in 2020, the Ambassador was concerned about the escalating burden of gender based violence in Uganda when she said, “the Survey highlighted that 95% of women and girls experience physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.”
She therefore emphasized the Global 16 Days of Activism as key international movement to increase awareness and advocate for an end to Gender Based Violence. The Ambassador also mentioned that preventing and responding to Gender Based Violence is a cornerstone for Sweden’s commitment to promote democracy, human rights and gender equality and this is done as an investment in a society that upholds the principles of equality, dignity and justice.
She acknowledged the full participation of university students in all campaigns and activities geared towards achieving gender equality as well as ending Gender Based Violence when she said, “You are the leaders of tomorrow and you have an opportunity to build a future where everyone can thrive. So please use today to take an active stand against Gender Based Violence.”
Every year Uganda joins the rest of the world to enhance the global campaigns on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and also add a voice to the call for an end to violence against women and girls. These campaigns run from 25th November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until 10th December of the Human Rights Day.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 initiative calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations to help end all types of violence against women and girls. This year 2023, the UNiTE campaign theme is; Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls.
Over the years, Makerere University through its Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and School of Women and Gender in partnership with UN Women and many other partners have been at the fore front to support the campaign on 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence in Uganda. This has been done through debates, theatre forums, student dialogues, thematic artistic presentations, media exposures, drama and music skits presentation, and student peer led discussions and quarterly competitions.
This year 2023, the University in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) unveiled the Orange Pledge. According to Eric Tumwesigye the Senior Gender Specialist at Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, this campaign calls upon government, policymakers, activists, civil societies, academicians, students and all members of community from all parts of the country to make their heartfelt pledges towards ending Gender Based Violence in Uganda and the rest of the world.
The UN Women Country Representative Paulina Chiwangu recognized the investment Makerere University, the Embassy of Sweden and UNFPA have made to end violence against women and girls. “Thanks to our collective efforts, the silence that used to shroud violence against women has now been broken” said.
In the same spirit, she acknowledged the progress Makerere University has made in establishing and implementation of the University’s Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment to protect students and staff from potential abuses of power and conflict of interest. She also applauded the increased support and training for students and the strengthened mechanisms for investigations that allow students and staff to anonymously report sexual misconduct.
“We are however, aware that despite this, sexual harassment is still happening in the university and that not many students report to the authorities when they experience it. It is therefore, our humble appeal to the university leadership to continue monitoring the implementation of the Policy and Regulations Against Sexual Harassment, take all allegations of sexual harassment and violence seriously, ensure that all personnel have information on available support services and take action to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.”
Reaffirming the University’s position in fighting GBV and particularly sexual harassment, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe was highlighted the various measures Makerere University has put in place to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence. To him, the Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment; the appointment and capacity building for the Vice Chancellor’s Roster of 100 eminent people from the various colleges and administrative units; recruitment and training of the Gender Mainstreaming Programme Student Peer Trainers and setting up Sexual Harassment Investigation Committees are bigger milestones to celebrate.
He appreciated the move by the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and all the partners to embrace entertainment and artistry as a critical advocacy and awareness tool to reach several communities especially the youth.
“We firmly believe in the transformative power of music and the arts in promoting social change. Music and art does serve as a powerful medium to advocate for the world free from violence especially violence against women,” said to Mr. Dainel Alemu, the UNFPA Deputy Country Representative.
“It is heartening to see artists like Navio taking a stand and using their influence to challenge harmful norms. As we revel in the beats and melodies, let us not forget he underlying message that everyone , regardless of gender, has a role to play in fostering a world where everyone is free from shackles of gender based violence,” he added.
Speaking at the Press Conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds, Navio said that for the 20 years he has been an activist of Gender Based Violence, he has faced the reality of many young girls and women in Uganda being victims of sex and physical abuse. He therefore sent a huge condemnation to men especially artists that who are perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and called for serious government action and clear policies and laws against such injustices.
Navio applauded the women and men who have stood tall over the years to fight against Gender Based Violence in Uganda when he said, “ As we launch the 16 days activism in Uganda and through these pledges we are making, let us be accountable for our actions. For long in our cultures, men have considered force and violence as power and protection. They have been tough to their children hence instilling fear to the extent that the children cannot freely interact with them on serious matters such as abuse and torture.”
He applauded all families that have adopted the new parenting model of free conversations and interaction hence encouraging children to freely open up whenever they have challenges. Navio also acknowledged the role of his mother Mrs Maggie Kigozi as a human rights activist and a champion in fighting against Gender Based Violence in Uganda.
Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu from Sweden appreciated the wider platform provided by the music industry globally for artists to act as role models and champion of change. The rapper highlighted the need to respect women for their roles and support towards community development.
“I am a son and it is extremely important for me to respect my mother and all women. Also being a father to a beautiful daughter, I am always eager and looking forward to seeing the best future for her. I want daught to grow up in the world where she is able to feel safe and be allowed to freely associate without being discriminated or threatened because of her gender,” he said.
Scholars & Alumni of Mastercard Foundation light up Achukudu Community, Napak District
By Bernard Buteera
On Saturday 2nd December 2023, all roads led to Achukudu Community Primary School in Napak District, Karamoja sub-region, as the Scholars and Alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University commemorated their Scholars’ Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback). The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service was held at Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District in the Karamoja sub-region. Established in 2013, Achukudu Community School serves two ethnic communities—The Iteso and Karamojong.
With a total population of 1,097 pupils only three government-paid teachers, and nine community-paid teachers, the School faces a plethora of challenges. Key among the challenges is the lack of Classrooms, decent Ventilated Pit Latrines, and Desks. Therefore when the Scholars identified the School as one that deserved to be given a gift of a classroom block, it was a befitting choice!
The Scholars with support from the alumni, the Program Team, Members of the Steering Committee, and partners of the Scholars Program at Makerere University intervened by constructing a two-classroom block, which was supervised by one of the alumni who is an Engineer. Alongside the classroom block, the Scholars also provided 40 desks, helping the school meet UNEB Center eligibility criteria.
While presiding over the event, the area member of Parliament, Hon. John Bosco Ngoya, thanked the Scholars and alumni community at Makerere University for supporting the young pupils of Achukudu Primary School and the entire community by gifting them with a two-classroom block.
“Thank you Scholars and alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University for the Christmas gift of a classroom block to the young people and the entire community of Achukudu. This classroom block will go a long way in improving the learning environment of the young children of Achukudu primary school.” Hon. Ngoya pointed out.
Hon. Ngoya called upon other people to emulate the Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation in embracing the spirit of giving back to the vulnerable people in the community. On his part, he donated One Million Five hundred shillings (1,500,000/=) to help the School purchase more desks, and he had earlier contributed One million shillings (1,000,000/=) towards the construction of the classroom block.
The District Education Officer (DEO) for Napak District, Ms. Joyce Nakoya, praised the Scholars Community for embracing and practicing the spirit of giving back to other people at an early age.
“Thank you Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation at Makerere for embracing the spirit of giving back to other people at such an early age. If all people gave back to the less privileged in our communities, we would have a better world for everyone.” Ms. Nakoya pointed out.
Ms. Nakoya further pointed out every child deserves to study in a decent environment, therefore it was a befitting cause for the Scholars to construct a classroom block for the young pupils of Achukudu community primary school, who were studying in open grass thatched classrooms.
The Program Manager of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, Ms. Jolly Okumu who led the team of Scholars, alumni, and staff to Karamoja thanked the community of Achukudu for supporting the Scholars to deliver the class block by contributing to the construction sand.
“We come here today to join with you as a community driven by a shared commitment to education, empowerment, and ethos of giving back. Today is a historic occasion as we celebrate the completion and commissioning of the classroom block, which is a remarkable testament to the transformative power of education and our unwavering spirit of community service.” Ms. Jolly remarked.
The President of the Scholars Association, Mr. Godfrey Okello, thanked all the Scholars and alumni, and all stakeholders who contributed to the construction of the classroom block, which was a dream that became a reality.
“I would like to thank my colleagues and people of goodwill who supported us to realize our dream of constructing this classroom for our young brothers and sisters of Achukudu Primary School. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our fellow young people in Uganda and Africa as a whole.” Mr. Okello remarked.
The Headteacher of the School, Mr. Eryebu Raymond, who was visibly very excited was full of praises for Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation, for what he termed as an iconic classroom block they had gifted to his School.
“This day is very special to us, we will not see this day again. We are delighted to receive the Scholars and alumni of Mastercard Foundation from Makerere University, thank you for considering supporting our School” Mr. Eryebu excitedly remarked.
The Headteacher revealed that one of the major challenges the school was facing was an acute shortage of classrooms for his 1,097 pupils. He was therefore grateful to Mastercard Foundation Scholars for choosing to construct a two-class block for the School.
“This donation of a classroom block and Desks is a testament to your commitment to education and empowering the lives of the vulnerable people in the community. This classroom block and desks will go a long way in improving the quality of teaching and learning at our school.” Mr. Eryebu further remarked.
The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback) was punctuated with a lot of joy, pomp, and fanfare, as the pupils and the entire community of Achukudu danced and ululated at the commissioning of the classroom block. The construction of the classroom block and purchase of desks for Achukudu Community Primary School was made possible by generous contributions by the Scholars, alumni, the Program Team, and members of the Steering Committee.
Among the Partners who made financial contributions towards the class block construction included; DFCU Bank, Post Bank, URA, Katumba Estates, Footsteps Furniture Ltd, and Sion Travels Ltd.
The Scholars and Alumni Day of Community Service (Give back) is an annual event, where Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation go out into the community to give back by providing solutions to challenges that a particular community is facing. Over the years Scholars have given back to the communities in numerous ways that range from offering professional services and erecting major projects like classroom blocks.
Bernard Buteera is the Communications and Public Relations Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.
Innovations using low cost locally available materials for point of use water treatment system unveiled
The College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) conducted a Research Dissemination of two studies aimed at the Development of Materials for point of use water treatment systems.
The investigations were conducted by a team of researchers comprised of P. W. Olupot, H. M. Kalibbala, E. Menya, G.M. Wangi, J. Jjagwe, J. Wakatuntu, M. Turyasingura, R. Walozi, C. Kanyesigye and R. N. Kulabako.
The dissemination event held on Wednesday 29th November 2023 follows the successful completion of two MakRIF supported Research projects namely; Development of rice husk based granular activated carbon for point-of-use water treatment systems and Development of zeolite-based nanocomposite filters for drinking water treatment.
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