This edition explores some of the issues facing universities as they fulfil their mandate of providing the human resources and strengthening the knowledge base of African societies. It explores the role of universities in science and technology and the links with agricultural extension and in using its post-graduate programmes to contribute to research with an overview of the evolving RUFORUM network and how it has impacted on universities relevance and quality. A review of selected country case studies shows how the sector is responding to gender inclusivity and how it could contribute better to science, technology and innovation.
Key words: Africa, gender inclusivity, Higher Education, Science, Technology, RUFORUM
The African Journal of Rural Development (AFJRD) Editorial Secretariat is housed at the Makerere University Main Campus, Kampala Uganda.
Lessons for Uganda: Decentralized Interventions in COVID-19 Relief Food Distribution
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.
Information Seeking Behavior of Secondary School Students during Lockdown
RIF COVID-19 Project: Information Seeking Behavior of Secondary School Students during the Lockdown in Uganda
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.
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.
3.1.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%)
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
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
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.
- Dr. Joyce Bukirwa – Principal Investigator
- Ms. Lois Mutibwa – Researcher
- Ms. Faridah Muzaki – Researcher
- Mr. Richard Batte – Researcher
- Mr. Aloysius Ssenono Mwanje – Researcher
- Dr. David Luyombya – Researcher
We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (RIF) Special COVID-19 call.
Jack Kimmel International Grant Program
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;
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 email@example.com 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.