Makerere University with support from USAID and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has launched an Online National Biodiversity Data Bank (NBDB) software application to boost research in Uganda’s Biodiversity.
The Data Bank software application was launched by the Acting Commissioner Biodiversity in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Dr. Akankwasa Barirega at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Thursday, 5th September 2019.
The Coordinator of the Data Bank Dr. Daniel Waiswa from Makerere University’s School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences (SFEGS) in his remarks highlighted that without data on Uganda’s biodiversity, the tourism sector will head into sleep mode.
“The Data Bank is a central repository for biodiversity data in Uganda to serve the public, private and civil society domain,“ he said.
He explained that biodiversity data for most of the work done at the University is scattered, requiring a central place which can help to make informed decisions on the status of biodiversity resources.
“Currently we collect data from the field and stakeholders, keep it and make it accessible to all those interested in conservation of biodiversity. For students we use the data for research to inform policy with regard to management of biodiversity resources” remarked Dr. Waiswa.
He said the Data Bank will move towards increasing access to data, considering the case of the online and offline database donated to the NBDB by WCS. He also reiterated that the online Data Bank is quite important in broadening the scope of the current databank to include aquatic biodiversity and environmental quality data.
According to Dr. Waiswa the NBDB was formulated with a vision of becoming the leading centre of excellence in quality biodiversity and environmental data collection, processing and management in Uganda.
Its mission is to inventory and monitor the national biological resources and provide biodiversity information to conservationists, government agencies, land managers and others interested in the conservation and sustainable utilisation of these resources.
The NBDB future outlook includes Capacity Building in biodiversity and related issues as well as generation of funds through proposal writing, fundraising. Others are consultancies and increased participation in university programs of teaching and research among increasing relevance of stakeholders through provision of demand driven products and services.
The Dean SFEGS, Assoc. Prof. Fred Babweteera who represented Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, the Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) said the Data Bank software application was a great milestone for the college to make its resources more accessible in the public domain. He lauded USAID for providing resources and technical support for the conference.
Dr. Akankwasa Barirega who also heads the Department of Wildlife Conservation at the Ministry of Tourism applauded Makerere for launching the Online National Biodiversity Data Bank.
“For us as a Ministry responsible for Tourism and Wildlife, we have great excitement because we cannot develop tourism products without biodiversity data.
You must know where the animals, plants, birds, mammals, reptiles are so that we can promote them for Tourism, “he noted.
He observed the need to know what is available so that it can be managed better, saying unknown data cannot be managed.
“Government is responsible for management and conservation of wildlife, there is no way this work can be done without having information on where these things are. To us this is a great tool that will help in the day-to-day conservation management, decision making, tourism product development and conservation as well as tourism development policy formulation, “he emphasized.
He reported that lack of updated data has been one of the biggest challenges faced by the Tourism and Wildlife sector,
“There are many species of animals that we don’t know about, people only know about big mammals like the elephants, Gorillas, yet there are a lot of insects like beetles and butterflies which can contribute to tourism in addition to their ecological benefits like pollination which masterminds the agriculture sector in Uganda, “he said.
Taking into consideration the recent debate on the proposed construction of a dam on Murchison Falls, Dr. Waiswa said that such a resolution was not being guided by the available data on biodiversity, noting that the availability of resources like the National Biodiversity Data Bank will easily guide decision-making.
The Country Director Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Mr. Samuel Nampindo Takozekibi said that his organisation has worked closely with Makerere University particularly the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) to ensure that the platform is accessible by the public through the internet.
“The Data Bank is as good as having the data which we have also contributed to collecting; we also support academic training so that the students can collect the data as they earn their degrees, “he revealed.
He said that WCS is working towards negotiating the international treaties like the post CDD 2020 to come up with the targets which will become key frameworks for governments, so as to contribute to slowing down species’ loss and extinction.
Mr. Nampindo observed the need for the data collected to be used in reporting on the natural capital contribution to the development of this country, so as to attract increased investment by government.
He advised other public universities to be part of the process since they have continuous recruitment of students who do research in an effort to earn their degrees which will provide key sustainability for the data bank.
“The data bank can also innovate products that can be sold mostly to international students, to earn money to enhance its sustainability.”
Article Compiled by; Jane Anyango and Agnes Nankebe Nantambi, Communication Office CAES
Uganda’s policymakers implored to address forest loss, plastic & water pollution
The Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe on Thursday 22nd September, 2022 participated in the opening of the EfD Annual meeting hosted by Makerere University at Speke Resort Munyonyo where he appealed to government to implement the ban on kaveera and address other environmental issues.
The opening ceremony moderated by the EfD Global Hub Manager Gunnar Köhlin and was graced by Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment represented by the Commissioner for Water, Mr. Julius Mafumbo and the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Maria Håkansson.
Prof. Nawangwe urges Makerere University community to support the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative
By Bernard Buteera
Makerere University has launched a two million dollar E-learning Project, dubbed The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative.
The launch was held on Tuesday 20th September 2022 at Makerere University, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium. It attracted over 200 participants, who included members of University Management, College Principals, School Deans, Academic and Administrative staff, students and the general university community.
While addressing the gathering, the Chief Guest, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), congratulated Makerere University for winning such a huge grant, which will go a long way in transforming the eLearning infrastructure at Makerere University.
“I am happy to be joining you in launching a project that is at the heart of National Council for Higher Education. Online learning is at the heart of the Council, not only because of the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the world is now a digital world.” Prof. Okwakol remarked.
Prof. Okwakol thanked Mastercard Foundation and other development partners who have continued to support initiatives that help transform higher institutions of learning in Uganda.
“I sincerely thank the Mastercard Foundation and other partners who have continued to support higher education in Uganda, especially in the area of research and online learning. Globally, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly disrupted education systems forcing learners and some schools to shift to virtual learning to curb the spread of the pandemic.” Prof. Okwakol pointed out.
On his part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe urged the university community, especially the academic staff to take advantage of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning initiative to develop e-content across all Colleges of the University, to enhance capacity for eLearning at Makerere University.
”I appeal to the Colleges to embrace this project and have as many courses adopt this pedagogy development system, even though students will continue with face-to face and phyisical learning, they should be allowed the option of online learning. The platforms that are going to be built, will give our students an opportunity to interact with international students, scholars, teachers and with each other.” Prof. Nawangwe applealed.
The Vice Chancellor, further called upon all other development partners to emulate Mastercard Foundation in supporting Makerere University and other universities on the entire African continent in strengthening digital literacy, so that Africa is not left behind.
”In 2018 I attended a conference on E-learning in Beijing China, where a critical question was asked; Will Africa be left behind again? This was in reference to many advancements that were taking place in the western world, in which Africa had been left behind.” The Vice Chancellor reminded the audience.
Prof. Nawangwe further emphaised the importance of e-learning as one of the critical modes of teaching and learning in the 21st first century.
”Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot over emphasise the importance we attach to e-learning the 21st Century, that is why we took a decision to elevate the Department of Open and Distance Learning into an Institute of Open and Distance E-learning with an intention of having e-learning extended to other Colleges of the university.” Prof. Nawangwe pointed out.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, and Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, rallied the University community to support the implementation of the project in the University.
“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative could not have come in at a better time than post COVID19 era. A pandemic, which exposed our systems and methods of teaching and learning. You all recall, when were hit by the pandemic, with lockdowns and closures of institutions of learning, we all went into a panicky mode on how were going to cope with online learning. I therefore call upon every member of the university to give this project the support it deserves.
Prof. Kakumba reminded the audience the importance and relevancy of online learning at Makerere University and other universities in Uganda.
“The online method of learning is best suited for everyone. This digital revolution has led to remarkable changes in how the content is accessed, consumed, discussed, and shared. Office goers and stay home mothers can take up online educational courses too, at the time that suits them. Depending on their availability and comfort, many people choose to learn at weekends or evenings.” Prof. Kakumba remarked.
Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative, informed the audience the importance of the project and the expected outcomes for the University.
“The Mastercard Foundation e- Learning Initiative is a Project funded by Mastercard Foundation aimed at addressing the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic that constrained access and continuity of teaching, learning, research and community engagement activities at Makerere University” Prof. Muyinda pointed out.
Prof. Muyinda further thanked the team that he worked with in putting up the proposal in a very short time that yielded such an important grant for the University.
“I thank the team that spent sleepless nights putting together the proposal that resulted into this project. I must report that Makerere University is privileged to be having the most highly qualified persons in online instruction design and online pedagogy at the IODeL and beyond. It is now up to Makerere University in particular and the Country in general to make use of these persons to transform the terrain of online, blended distance and e-learning education.” Prof. Muyinda remarked.
Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, informed the audience, that the E-learning initiative was one of the many partnerships between Mastercard Foundation and Makerere University geared at supporting the young people to succeed on the African continent.
“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program continues to recognize that in order to enable young people across Africa to succeed, there is need to; Address systemic barriers in Higher education, Strengthen the capacity of Institutions that serve the Young People, and Support innovative solutions across critical sectors.” Prof. Namaalwa remarked.
The colourful launch ended with a panel discussion in which panelists digested the importance and opportunities for open distance and eLearning in higher institutions of learning.
Bernard Buteera is the Communications Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.
Supplementary Admissions to Bachelor of Laws Under Private Sponsorship 2022/23
The Academic Registrar, Makerere University, informs applicants wishing to be admitted to Bachelor of Laws Private for 2022/2023 Academic year but failed to submit their application online to submit their applications from Friday 23rd to Friday 30th September, 2022 at a non-refundable fee of 50,000/= (Fifty thousand shillings only).
The applicants MUST have passed the Pre-entry Examinations for Bachelor of Laws.
Diploma/Degree holders should submit certified copies of their academic transcript to Room
315 Level 3, Senate Building.
Applicants who have already been admitted need not apply.
For any additional information, contact Undergraduate Admissions Offices 301/303 for A’Level Applicants and Office 315 for Diploma/Degree holders.
ALFRED MASIKYE NAMOAH
AG. ACADEMIC REGISTRAR
Date: 22nd September, 2022
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