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Experts in Mathematics emphasize the need to create sustainable networks to Strengthen Research in Universities

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Experts in mathematics have emphasized the need to create sustainable groups and networks to strengthen Research in Universities. This was at the opening ceremony of the 3rd Network Meeting for Sida and ISP-Funded PhD Students and Postdocs in Mathematics; held on Monday 20th August 2018 at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel Entebbe, Uganda.  The meeting was officially opened by the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe represented by the Director of Research and Graduate Training Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza. 

Participants posing for the photo.

The 3rd Network Meeting for Sida and International Science Programme (ISP) funded PhD Students and Postdocs in mathematics brought together over 100 PhD students and Postdoctoral fellows in Mathematics from African partner universities; supervisors and mentors; senior researchers; and coordinators from the Sida bilateral programs, ISP core program and Swedish senior researchers with the aim of strengthening and encouraging collaborative research in Mathematics. The Meeting will run from 20th -24th August 2018 under a theme: Strengthening Research in Mathematics in Universities with Sida and ISP Support.  

According to the Chairperson of the Local Organizing Committee Prof. John Mango, the five days’ workshop brings together participants from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Finland, German, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Rwanda, Sudan, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Participants will lay a strategy and develop research agendas on effective and efficient joint publication; and joint applications for research funding. “I am happy to report on the training of 21 staff members at Makerere, Busitema, Gulu, Mbarara and Kyambogo at the Doctoral level in mathematics and the training of 9 Postdocs. This is clearly a bumper harvest from the Swedish support to Mathematics in our country” he said.

The Chairperson of the Local Organizing Committee Prof. John Mango.

Prof. Mango reiterated that the network of researchers as a platform also provides a forum for interaction of PhD, Postdoc students and researchers in mathematics supported by Sida and ISP; with a view of sharing experiences and creating sustainable research groups and networks.

The Principal of the College of Natural Sciences Prof. J.Y.T Mugisha appreciated the Government of Sweden for the support it extends to public universities in Uganda. The Principal also thanked the organizing committee as well as the funders of the meeting for ensuring that the event is successful.   Prof. Mugisha noted that this is a great opportunity for networking and collaborating for the researchers attending the meeting. ‘It is rare to have all the senior scientists in one place and thus the young researchers should use this meeting to start work with the seniors present here’. He further welcomed the participants to Uganda and wished them a peaceful stay in Uganda.

In a speech read by Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, commended the great work of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in promoting collaborations in mathematics between universities in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

Prof. Martin Singull making a presentation.

“Such collaborations will involve joint publications, joint applications for funding, sharing of human resources for teaching and supervision, and joint arrangements of conferences and workshops. These efforts are key for a continued sustainable development of mathematics in Eastern and Southern Africa,” he said.

Prof. Nawangwe urged mathematicians in their research groups to carry out research dissemination and translation of outputs into policy briefs when he said, “I know that in applied mathematics and mathematical statistics, researchers collect plenty of raw data, but many times these are not translated or transformed into desired outcomes to be able to serve the reasons for which they are gathered. I therefore urge you to direct your research in areas relevant to your national development goals in order for mathematics to play the role it without any doubt should.”

He acknowledged the support of the Swedish government to Makerere University that has been monumental and critical to the realization of the University’s core functions of teaching and learning, research and innovations, and partnerships and networking. 

Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza addressing participants.

“The support has also greatly improved the research culture in mathematics at Makerere University with an increase of publications in recognized international journals and active participation in international conferences. In the past two decades we have built capacity on PhD, Postdocs and masters level. Therefore, doing research together we will achieve more, help us in laying the strategies and develop research agendas at national and regional levels,” he said. 

Prof. Mango as Chairperson Local Organizing committee was commended for bringing the event to Uganda and Makerere University in particular. The 1st and 2nd network meetings were held in Sweden. Prof Mango has spearheaded many development initiatives in the Mathematics Department in the past two decades. These initiatives have seen many staff in the department trained to PhD and Postdoc levels in Uganda and the region. 

Prof. Mango commended the following members of the Organizing Committee for their selfless service: Prof Kasozi Juma-Makerere University, Dr Silvester Rugeihyamu-University of Dar es salaam, Dr Tembo Isaac-University of Zambia, Dr Minani-University of Rwanda, Dr Eunice Mureithi-University of Dar es salaam, Dr Betty Nannyonga-Makerere University, Dr Mirumbe Ismail-Makerere University and Dr Ssevviiri David-Makerere University.

Some of the participants during the meeting.

Highlighting the importance of mathematics in solving societal challenges, Prof. Leif Abrahamsson Director of Mathematical Sciences at ISP said mathematics is an imperative tool that drives all other science subject. Prof. Leif also mentioned that Mathematics is so helpful in solving societal problems. 

“Its functions might be hidden but we need mathematics to solve societal problems. You will find mathematics in financial institutions, political sectors, business entities and also in the health sector. We have on several occasion used mathematics to find solutions to some of the epidemic diseases such as Ebola and HIV/AIDS,” he stated.

Prof. Bengt Ove Turesson, from Linköping University-Sweden; Department of Mathematics (MAI), emphasized the need to provide career guidance when training mathematics in schools. “Questions like what am I going to do after studying mathematics should be clearly answered during the career guidance sessions so that a student understands some of the opportunities available when he or she studies the mathematics. We should also encourage the construction of resource centres for teachers at various education levels where mathematics teachers will come together and discuss the several ways of improving mathematics,” he mentioned. 

The Head, Department of Mathematics at Makerere University Dr. David Ssevviiri, described mathematics as a language of basic sciences “It is a language for engineers and all science based fields. We should interest the learners when teaching it,” he said.

Ms Ritah Namisango, the Principal Public Relations Officer of Makerere University appealing to the mathematicians to come up with strategies aimed at popularizing mathematics at all levels.

Dr. Betty Nanyonga Kivumbi said that she is one of the three lucky female lecturers at the Department of Mathematics, Makerere University. She therefore, cited the need to empower and mentor girls to have equal access to and success in mathematics “As a department of Mathematics at Makerere University we felt it needful to engage in outreach programs such as visiting schools and talk to girls and teachers, we have organized the mathematics marathon and we started a regional network to promote basic sciences,” Dr. Nanyonga explained.

Ms Ritah Namisango, the Principal Public Relations Officer of Makerere University appealed to the mathematicians to come up with strategies aimed at popularizing mathematics at all levels. “Mathematics is a vital subject, but a number of interactions with pupils and students indicate that most of them fear the subject. I am happy to note that we have over 100 participants from Africa and Europe in this room. I appeal to you to come up with innovative ways of making mathematics attractive,” remarked Ms Namisango. 

In East Africa, Sida has supported mathematics since 2007 through bilateral programmes in Rwanda, Uganda, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Tanzania. The support is mainly for capacity building at PhD and Postdoc levels. ISP support in mathematics started almost two decades ago with the aim of building capacity and improving on the state of mathematics in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

Article by: Mak Public Relations Office 

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Rotary International President visits Mak

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The Chairperson of Council, Mrs Lorna Magara (L) presents a plaque to Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in appreciation of his visit and invaluable service, 15th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University.

By Hasifa Kabejja

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.

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Intentionality Key to Nurturing More Women Leaders

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The "Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research" Phase One Study dissemination poster for the event held on 14th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University and Online.

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.

The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine
The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine

 “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.  

The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.
The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.

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.  

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.

“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.

A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.
A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.

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.

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Section Editors & Associate Editors Wanted-CABI Agriculture & Biosciences Journal

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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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