The spirit of academic debate was once again rekindled in the Main Hall on 17th November 2015 as Youth from Ugandan Universities gathered to attend a panel discussion organized by the University Forum on Governance (UNIFOG) and International Republic Institute (IRI). Based on the theme Youth Participation in Political Processes: Constraints and Opportunities, the panel discussion was graced by Mr. Tom Malinowski, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, who also made remarks on Uganda’s key regional role and the US position on foreign elections.
Welcoming participants and panelists to the event, the Director, UNIFOG and also the day’s moderator Mr. Yusuf Kiranda observed that despite constituting nearly half the registered voters, the youth had still failed to make a meaningful and sustainable impact on politics and governance processes. “As young people, we have to use every forum, platform and opportunity to organize ourselves and voice out systematically and structurally what we think are the ideas that we need the political process to respond to” he noted.
In his remarks, The Assistant Secretary of State appreciated Uganda’s role in maintaining regional peace by sending forces to fight Al Shabaab in Somalia as well as protect civilians in three countries from LRA insurgents. He further emphasized the role of good governance in the advancement of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Uganda, especially in the run-up to the upcoming elections.
“The United States doesn’t take sides in foreign elections; we have no favorite parties or people. But we do take a stand when it comes to the process,” said Mr. Malinowski. He expressed hope that healthy competition would pave the way for a free and fair election in the form of a free press, respect for freedom of assembly, as well as an impartial military and police force. “We want to see everyone’s voice heard and everyone’s vote to count. The only outcome we want to see is one that Ugandans will believe in” he added.
Mr. Malinowski noted that despite meeting Ugandan youth who had lost faith in the political process, he hoped that all those gathered would take advantage of their large numbers. He noted that this statistical fact presented youth with the perfect opportunity to guarantee that candidates addressed issues that impacted their welfare. With regard to conduct, he urged them to consider the example of Ghanaian youth who played a major role in ensuring that supporters of two rival camps remained calm during the closely contested presidential election of 2008. He however warned that elections are not everything, but life ought to go on after the polls.
“Elections aren’t everything. A ballot, alone, cannot give you justice or a job. But it can give you a say. So I hope you will take part. I hope some of you will run for office, if not now, then someday. If you do, I hope you will play by the rules even if others don’t; that you will listen to your opponents with respect even if they are disrespectful,” advised Mr. Malinowski.
The Assistant Secretary of State then took part in an interactive session where members of the audience raised questions ranging from what the US position would be should the 2016 election outcome be negative, what strategies was the US offering to shape aspirations of politically ambitious youth, and measures to effectively monitor polls using election observers. In his response, Mr. Malinowski reiterated that the role of the US was to promote good election outcomes and not predict any negative ones. He expressed hope that Ugandan leaders at all levels would realize that it is in their best interest to participate in chaos-free elections. He urged the youth to make the most of social media platforms to learn of the best political practices from all corners of the globe, and urged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to continue nurturing the youth on the role of good governance. He decried the direct involvement of the armed forces in elections and offered to use the remaining days of his visit to further dialogue with their leadership.
Part of the motivation for the day’s debate was to contribute towards the attainment of structural change whereby the voices of young men and women count in the governance and decision making processes. To help shape the discussion; Mr. Jacob Eyeru-A Student Leader, Ms. Helena Okiring-A Youth and Gender Activist, Mr. Micheal Mugisha-An Assistant Lecturer, Department of Population Studies, Makerere University, Ms. Isabella Akiteng-Project Coordinator, Uganda Youth Network and Ms. Loyola Karobwa-A Member of the Youth Leaders’ Think Tank for Policy Alternatives were assembled as panelists.
In her contribution, Ms. Helena Okiring observed that the youth, by virtue of their numbers represent continuity, opportunity and can therefore make a tangible difference if they actively participate in politics. She however noted with concern the increased monetization and patronage as occasioned by other political entities, which eventually affected how the youth engaged in political activity. She noted that there were growing patterns of youth activism, especially as youth organized themselves around CSOs to make their demands heard.
Mr. Yusuf Kiranda the day’s Moderator then turned the debate to Mr. Jacob Eyeru, tasking him to explain why despite the increased youth organisation, their voices and participation in the political processes was not as profound as expected. In his response, Mr. Eyeru noted that political participation cannot be fostered by most of the CSOs to which some of the youth belong as they tend to be activity-driven. He further shared that youth leagues are more active under political party structures and only heard of around election times. He therefore urged the leadership of the youth leagues especially in political parties, to show more evidence of appropriate representation beyond only participating in the elective process.
Ms. Isabella Akiteng in her contribution on youth participation in the political process noted the glaring lack of civic education, after only half of the audience raised their hands in answer to her question on how many had taken time to pick up their National Identity Cards. She urged the youth to look beyond the surface to the consequences of all messages such as defiance as perpetrated by the entities they belong to. With regard to low youth participation, she noted the need for polices to interact more with the demographics of the population so as to effectively align any messages to the appropriate channels of dissemination. She emphasized the need to educate the population on the importance of associating their vote to service delivery at all levels.
With regard to the policy gaps in lieu of political participation, whereas Ms. Loyola Karobwa admitted that they do exist, she argued that a poor attitude towards the process presented an even bigger problem. She urged the youth gathered not to shun participation in elective politics as the entry level has been sent low. She further encouraged youth to shun youth affiliations that sought to label them as “poor” and any other negative connotations.
To help further demystify the mystery of low youth participation, the last panelist of the day Mr. Michael Mugisha sought to create a distinction between participation by attendance and by impactful involvement. He emphasized the need to stress the gains of impactful versus passive participation, such that all those that would hitherto shun the process get fully engaged, mindful that their participation will influence policy implementation. He also called for distinguishing between the different kinds of youth based on their location in rural/urban areas or their economic status, so as to avoid generalizing their would-be interests and aspirations.
The curtains came down on the day’s debate with members of the audience voicing opinions ranging from the resolve to vote and actively participate in more organisational activities away from elections, to adoption of constructive and respectful language during debates. The youth however could not shake the fact that monetization of political participation made it hard for new entrants to actively engage in the electoral processes, but expressed their willingness to keep trying.
Article by Public Relations Office
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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