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Extension of Swedish Support to Ugandan Public Universities for Research

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Makerere-Sweden-Extension-of-Research-Support-Agreement-14thMay2020-Story

Today, 14th May 2020, amidst all odds resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic that has turned the world upside down, I witnessed a moment of joy where Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice-Chancellor representing Makerere University and H.E. Ambassador Per Lindgärde, representing Sweden signed an amendment to the Specific Agreement of the Uganda-Sweden Research Training Partnership program, July 2020-June 2022. Hon Matia Kasaijja, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development signed the general Agreement on behalf of the Government of Uganda.

As you are aware, for the last 20-years, Makerere and Uganda in general have continued to enjoyed the generosity of the Royal Government and people of Sweden. To-date, we have received a total 814 MSEK (over USD $100 million). Tremendous achievements have been made including the creation of an environment conducive to high quality relevant research through investment in human resource development, ICT, library resources, and infrastructure development at Makerere and four Partner Public Universities, namely Kyambogo, Gulu, Busitema and Mbarara University of Science and Technology.

It is heartwarming to report that following a successful appraisal of our result-based management outputs and financial discipline, the Royal Government of Sweden has granted us a 2-year prolongation/extension. The prolongation comes with an additional budget support of 45 million SEK (USD 4.5 million; equivalent to UGX 18billion).

H.E. Per Lindgärde (Right) and Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Left) show off the Signed specific Agreement

On behalf of the University Management, I convey our sincere gratitude to the Government and people of Sweden for the financial and material support that has helped to transform the research culture, capacity and quality of research outputs from Makerere University and its Partner Public Universities.

As the Program Coordination Office, DRGT will strive to attain the intended outcomes by applying the key  principles of human rights based approach in its operations, namely transparency, accountability,
participation and non – discrimination.

Sincere appreciation goes to the Principal Investigators (PIs) and researchers that were involved in preparing documents and proposals for this prolongation phase. A lot of work went into this.

Specifically, I wish to thank the Vice Chancellor for the patronage and support; the Government and People of Sweden for this substantial funding; and the entire University Management for creating an enabling environment at Makerere University where all this is happening.

We look forward to an exciting two years ahead.

Article by Professor Buyinza Mukadasi, Director, DRGT, Makerere University

 

Please see Downloads for the Press Release

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Lessons for Uganda: Decentralized Interventions in COVID-19 Relief Food Distribution

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LDU personnel offload bags of relief food from a truck onto pick-up vehicles for further distribution during the COVID-19 lockdown in Kampala, Uganda. Photo Credit: Abubaker Lubowa/Daily Monitor

Featured Image: LDU personnel offload bags of relief food from a truck onto pick-up vehicles for further distribution during the COVID-19 lockdown in Kampala, Uganda. Photo Credit: Abubaker Lubowa/Daily Monitor

Public Health specialists have urged government to utilize its well-established decentralized systems to support intervention causes such as food relief distribution.

The researchers say to better tackle the food relief response exercise in future, government needs to deploy a multi-sectoral engagement, better planning, and a decentralized food distribution. Their recommendation is based on their analysis of the recent food distribution exercise in the urban groups in the central region (Kampala and neighboring Wakiso district) where scandals were reported and six senior OPM officials arrested over inflating COVID-19 food Prices.

On the March 25, 2020 the National COVID-19 Response Team issued relief food distribution campaign following the country lockdown presidential directive as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

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Information Seeking Behavior of Secondary School Students during Lockdown

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The Project PI-Dr. Joyce Bukirwa (2nd R) with R-L: Dr. David Luyombya, Ms. Carol Kamugira and Ms. Harriet Adong (Mak-RIF) and Researchers: Mr. Richard Batte, Mr. Aloysius Ssenono Mwanje, Ms. Lois Mutibwa and Ms. Faridah Muzaki after the research dissemination on 19th August 2020, EASLIS, CoCIS, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

RIF COVID-19 Project: Information Seeking Behavior of Secondary School Students during the Lockdown in Uganda

Executive Summary

1. Introduction

This study addresses the need to effectively meet the information needs of secondary school students during the lockdown in Uganda. When the President of the Republic of Uganda directed that all schools be closed schools on 20th March 2020, students at all levels had to undergo home-schooling. The Ministry of Education and Sports and some schools developed learning materials to facilitate home-schooling during the lockdown. However, access to school libraries is not possible and consequently, there is limited access to information resources necessary for effective study and learning. Students have to study independently at home but the question of how they access the necessary information resources to supplement their studies, remains unanswered. This study sought to establish the information seeking behavior of secondary school students during the lockdown, what sources they use, the challenges they face and thus has proposed a framework for providing library and information services to home-schooling secondary school students during the lockdown in Uganda.The study was guided by the Wilson’s and Krieklas’ model(1999) of Information Seeking. The model attempts to describe the process a user follows to satisfy an information need. It takes into account the user’s previous information-seeking experience. The user uses the tools that are most familiar and easy to use that find results. The model not only applies in the library context, but also to any information-seeking activity just like the one in which homeschooling secondary school students are at the moment.

2. Methodology

A survey was carried out in five districts including Kyenjojo, Sironko, Mukono, Dokolo and Nakapiripirit representing the four major regions of Uganda.  Given the timing of this project, choice of districts was based on the ease with which we could identify EASLIS students in the districts, who would serve as research assistants/guides and ease entry into the communities.These were non-border districts and had not registered any COVID-19 case.  Based on a total secondary school student population of 1,370,583 (UBOS, 2018) we targeted a sample size of 384 (Krejcie& Morgan table (1970). However, the enthusiasm of the students resulted into collecting data from 446 respondents from 22 sub counties. Data was collected using self-administered questionnaires. Convenience sampling and snowball sampling was used to select individual survey participants. Majority of the respondents (87.9%) were O level students and only 12.1% were A level students.

3. Findings

3.1.How Secondary School Students seek/obtain information during the lock down

It was important to establish whether students were study while at home before ascertaining how they sought information to supplement their learning activities. The study established that 23.77% were using print study materials, 34.53% usedtelevision, while 51.57% used radio. However, 84.97% indicated that the learning materialswere not adequate. Reasons given included inadequate Content (42.95%); inadequate explanations (33.89%), subjects are not balanced (18.12%) and insufficient media Time/Timing for Lessons (5.03%). Thus, 90.4% indicated that they needed more information to supplement their study and learning during the lockdown.

Students Information Needs

Students’ information needs included information about COVID-19, sports, entrepreneurship, counselling, current affairs, religious information, fashion, designand academic information (school schedules, subject-specific information, examinations, etc.)

Information Seeking Practice

Students sought information by:

  • Consulted information sources with a purpose in mind (74.82%)
  • Using radio/television (74.21%)
  • Collaborating with others (73%)
  • Using others to seek information on their behalf (59.3%)
  • Accidently encountering with information (54.5%).
  • Using the internet (32.2%)
  • Using social media (31.1%)
The Project Principal Investigator-Dr. Joyce Bukirwa makes her presentation during the research dissemination on 19th August 2020

On whether the students had been guided or trained on how to seek or find information especially from various electronic resources, the study established that 27.6% had received such training while 72.4% had not.Even though the 27.6% had indicated they had received the training, 33.08% of them could not tell where they got the training. 34.59%had been trained by their schools, parents/relative (23.31%), through self-study (5.26%) and neighbors (3.76%).

3.2 Information Sources used by Secondary School Students during the Lockdown

The information sources used regularly by students included; personal notes (60.08%), radio (24%), personal textbooks (23%) and television (15.02%).  The rest of the information sources includedInternet (8.74%) and newspapers (6.27%).

Students that were satisfied with personal notes were 51.56%, those satisfied with personal textbook were 27.57%, radio (19.73%), television (15.69%) and newspapers (8.74%).

Majority (91.03%) were not satisfied with nearby library as an alternative source of information. The low level of satisfaction with nearby library is attributed to absence of public libraries in the districts. Only, two students expressed awareness about the existence of a nearby public library (Lira Public Library) which was located over 50km from their homes.

3.3 Challenges/Hindrances faced by Secondary School Students in accessing information resources

Students’ access to information is constrained by a number of challenges including lack of access to a nearby library/resource center (92.15%), high cost of data bundles and OTT tax (83.85%), lack of access to the Internet  (72.64%), lack of access to ICTs e.g. computers, smart phones, printing and photocopying services (70.85%), failure to find the relevant information easily (68.60%), inadequate information literacy skills (60.53%), insufficient knowledge of how to use a library/electronic resources (54.93%), lack of access to reading materials while at home (54.48%), lack of access to electricity (59.64%) and lack of appropriate reading space (24.21%).

High cost of radio batteries, unclear timetable for radio and television lessons, travelling long distances to sub counties to collect the study materials were hindrances to accessing information by the students.

Suggestions by the students to overcome the above challenges include:

  • Parents reducing on domestic work to allow more time for study
  • Allocation of more time  for lessons on Television and Radios
  • Dissemination of the radio/television study timetable
  • Establishment of community libraries
  • ICT infrastructure development
  • Alternative energy sources
  • Reduce the cost of Internet access and OTT

4. Conclusion

The closure of schools created an information gap for the learners. Information resources that used to be provided by the school libraries to support their studies, cannot be accessed, while at home.

While studying away from school, 90.4% needed more information and support. In addition, this study has revealed a low level of information literacy level among the students.  While at school, school libraries / teacher librarians would guide access to information resources including how to utilize electronic information resources.

Even with the availability of different information sources like newspapers, radio, Internet, television, personal or borrowed textbooks, students mainly used personal notes (60.08%), followed by textbooks (24%) and radio (23%). The absence of nearby libraries resulted into 90.8% of the students not using libraries as an alternative information source.

Only a few (6.50%) had been supported by their school libraries through book borrowing, distribution of learning materials and provision of reading space.

Therefore, students’ access to information during the lockdown is constrained and this calls for measures to address this information gap and thus support effective study and learning during the lockdown and future pandemics.

Proposed Framework through which Library and Information Services can be provided to Secondary School Students during the Lockdown

The proposed framework for enabling access to library and information services to secondary school students during a pandemic is depicted in the figure below:

Fig 1:   Proposed Framework for provision of Library and Information Services to Learners

Proposed Framework for provision of Library and Information Services to Learners - COVID-19 Project, EASLIS, CoCIS, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

Recommendations

The Government of Uganda should

  • Establish an information literacy programme for learners’ independent study and learning.
  • Ensure that regardless of closure of schools, Library and Information Services should be provided to the learners through digital and mobile library services

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), through the Rural Communication Development Fund (RCDF), should provide funding for the realization of the proposed framework.

The Project Team

The Project team comprised researchers from the East African School of Library and Information Science under the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University.

  1. Dr. Joyce Bukirwa – Principal Investigator
  2. Ms. Lois Mutibwa – Researcher
  3. Ms. Faridah Muzaki – Researcher
  4. Mr. Richard Batte – Researcher
  5. Mr. Aloysius Ssenono Mwanje – Researcher
  6. Dr. David Luyombya – Researcher

Acknowledgement

We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (RIF) Special COVID-19 call.

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Jack Kimmel International Grant Program

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Sunrays pour through the branches of trees off The Edge Road, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. Date taken: February 2015

Jack Kimmel grants provide much needed funding to arboriculture and urban forestry researchers all over the world. This grant is administered by TREE Fund, with participation from the Canadian TREE Fund in the evaluation process.

These grants are available to researchers whose work is primarily outside of the United States. Projects are expected to be completed within one to two years. Grant award amounts are limited to a maximum of $10,000 and will vary depending upon the adjudged value of the project relative to the needs of the arboriculture community.

Note Well: In 2020, TREE Fund’s Jack Kimmel International Grant program will be focused specifically on plant health care, to include such sample areas of inquiry as (this list is not all-inclusive):

  •     Wound response to injection;
  •     Pest/pathogen biology and management;
  •     Resistance breeding
  •     Decay assessment
  •     Tree injection;
  •     Etc.

APPLICATION PROCESS

The first step to apply for this grant is to send an email containing a brief Letter of Inquiry (LOI) of no more than 100 words describing your project title and concept to treefund@treefund.org between August 1, 2020 and September 15, 2020. Your LOI must clearly identify the Principal Investigator and Institution who will be contracted for the work should your application be approved.

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