The ranking of universities is a trend that has brought a lot of change to the global higher education sector. News headlines are seasonally dominated by “the rankings” as universities wait with bated breath to see if they have gained a slot, maintained or slipped up in position on the league tables. Each ranking presents its own unique methodology and matrices, whose weighting criteria is subject to change. This often rubs some participating institutions the wrong way but be that as it may, rankings are here to stay and most institutions that hitherto ignored them are slowly learning to pay attention.
At Makerere University, rankings have attracted and continue to attract their fair share of recognition as well as criticism. To help create a platform to share these varying views, the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) organised a Public Forum in the Main Hall on Wednesday, 8th November 2017. Held under the theme “Ranking and Internationalisation in Higher Education-New Developments and Implications for African Universities” the forum brought together academic and administrative staff from Makerere and other Universities based in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Germany.
In his remarks, the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration)-Prof. William Bazeyo who represented the Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe commended CEES for choosing a theme that sought to address the impact of rankings on the visibility of Universities.
He noted that whereas most rankings employ different methodologies, development partners always prefer highly ranked institutions over their lower ranking compatriots when it comes to grants disbursement. “They too want to put their money where they will be seen; partners are looking to work with those they can be identified with” remarked Prof. Bazeyo.
Prof. Bazeyo thanked development partners from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences and the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE) Germany for sponsoring the forum. “I urge the African teams that have been invited to this forum to subject yourself to these rankings, although you must prepare. As leaders of African Institutions, we must motivate ourselves to be that institution that people want to go to” he advised.
“How can you rank Makerere University which was incepted in 1922 in the same league with Kyambogo University incepted in 2003?” questioned the day’s emcee Dr. Anthony Mugagga Muwagga as he sought to put the topic in perspective. “Some say ranking is a Euro-based concept but is the University entirely and African concept?” Dr. Mugagga continued to probe. He nevertheless noted that as players in the global academic arena, African universities were subject to a lot of evaluation and should therefore do their best to comply and thereafter compete.
“Ranking is part of our world today and we need to learn how to work with it,” remarked Dr. Betty Ezati as she presented on the topic Balancing Global pressure and local demand: The dilemma of ranking for Ugandan Universities.
She noted that the Ugandan Higher Education sector is split into the two distinct subsectors of Universities and Tertiary institutions, with a total enrolment of 250,000 students. Whereas this enrollment is low compared to international and regional standards, league tables presented by the rankings had helped to attract students to those institutions which ranked higher, led to the growth of their student populations and inevitably helped distinguish those that paid more attention to quality assurance.
Dr. Ezati however observed that Ugandan universities still faced the dilemma of either focusing on the core function of teaching the ever growing university enrollment or cutting down on admissions to concentrate on research which is often prioritized by rankings. “60% of our population might be below the age of 18 and most students admitted are underprepared and so we have to teach more. Our universities face a big dilemma” she said.
African universities are also subject to slow internet connectivity and obsolete ICT infrastructure, a factor that pits them disadvantageously with their better facilitated American, Asian, Australian and European counterparts. Nevertheless, allocations to research, infrastructure development and innovation are on the steady increase as rankings gain more recognition by African Governments.
Tackling the question Do rankings drive change? Prof. Dr. Frank Ziegele from the Centre of Higher Education (CHE), Germany argued that league tables do have impact on four levels namely; Policy, Strategy & Management of Institutions, Industrial behavior & Academia and Student demand. He cited countries such as Russia, China and Malaysia that had instituted policies that invested a lot of finances in key universities to turn them into world class institutions. Others such as Denmark had merged several small institutions into large multidisciplinary universities.
Prof. Ziegele nevertheless decried these practices because funding of key universities was at the expense of the smaller regional ones, leading to stratified systems that frustrated professors in “second class” universities. He further lamented the rankings’ consideration of only publications that make it to high quality peer reviewed journals which prioritize Medicine and Natural Sciences at the expense of the humanities and applied sciences.
“Sometimes league tables do not lead to increase in performance but to more intelligence, how to play the game; how to use tricks to raise your position. For instance German universities have a large project running which has the main focus of making professors mention the right affiliation in their publications. So we invest a lot in playing the game” shared Prof. Ziegele.
He noted that whereas league tables had the advantage of creating competition and enhancing public awareness, most rankings were unfair to non-English speaking countries like Germany, France and often employed random weighting techniques. “We all know that if you change the weights, you can make universities move up and down the league tables” said Prof. Ziegele, further adding “one specific type of university is made the gold standard for all universities but the truth is that they are different and this damaging!”
As a way forward Prof. Ziegele proposed that rankings should be multidimensional and develop a model such as the European Commission funded U-Multirank. U-Multirank is an independent ranking where universities can populate the database with information on aspects of research, teaching and learning, international orientation, knowledge transfer and regional engagement. These are then weighted according to international standards and the resulting performance profiles can then be used by universities to develop specific strategies to improve on those aspects.
The day’s presentations were split into two sessions chaired by Dr. David Onen from the East African School of Higher Educational Studies and Development (EASHESD), who noted that whereas there are several programmes on Primary and Secondary school education and management, few tackled higher education leadership. “Many people have learnt about the higher education system in an ad hoc manner. A forum like this is an opportunity to learn more about the higher education system and we therefore thank the organizers” he said.
The interactive sessions that followed the presentations were charged as participants, citing the random methodologies employed by global rankings, called for the institution of a purely African edition with its own unique parameters and indices backed by South-South partnerships.
Responding to some of the comments and questions, the Dean EASHESD-Dr. Ronald Bisaso noted that whereas participants were justified in calling for a purely African ranking, this would be in total disregard of the Anglophone and Francophone foundations of most institutions.
“Issues to do with quality assurance are most criticised when it comes to rankings. We all want to be visible, but limited ICT infrastructure and our high youth populations are putting pressure on us and yet we want to develop a globally compliant graduate who is relevant to our community” assessed Dr. Bisaso, before adding “Balancing this is one of the conversations that should gain a lot of currency and we should carefully navigate our way so that our students attain both attributes.”
Providing information on the existence of South-South collaborations, the Quality Assurance Director-Dr. Vincent Ssembatya noted that the Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET), South Africa came up with a consortium of flagship universities under the banner of being “research-led” in an experiment with seven other countries including; Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.
“They developed an analytical framework where they are dissecting the missions of these universities to come up with relevant indicators for Africa starting with some universities. Of course there must be some commonalities between these universities that have to be compliant to this framework. I therefore wanted to mention that it has been a concern and hopefully, it will keep on moving forward” shared Dr. Ssembatya.
He nevertheless emphasized the need for African universities to prioritise data collection for all their functions so as to feed into user-driven rankings such as U-Multirank. He also noted that African universities shouldn’t ignore rankings because of their random methodologies but rather embrace them especially as globalisation becomes more of a reality.
Dr. Pius Achanga from the National Council for Higher Education (NHCE) while quoting ancient Greek philosopher Socrates opined that the unexamined life is not worth living. He emphasized that the existing rankings help universities to evaluate the contexts in which they teach, conduct research and offer services to the community and as such, there was no need for a purely African ranking. “There ought to be relevance in terms of the indicators and the methodologies that we are evaluating, rigour in terms of determining graduates’ skills versus the industrial standard as well as plausibility and acceptability in the context of what this system is testing, its jurisdiction and who gives them the authority” he shared.
Closing the half-day Public Forum, the Deputy Principal, CEES, Dr. Paul Muyinda Birevu noted that the event had presented CEES and its partners with an opportunity to share ideas on the relatively new phenomenon of ranking and the pressure that it was exerting on functions like research, teaching and learning. He challenged African institutions to work around all the challenges that impeded their influence on the global arena.
“For example in the Department of Open and Distance Learning, we have been able to influence certain spheres such as mobile learning. It is also important to note that Mobile Money transfer also originated in Africa! All we need to do therefore is clean up our house and go on to influence the world” concluded Dr. Muyinda.
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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