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.
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.
Apac District gains from CEDAT’s Research on Piloting a Rural Broadband Connectivity Model and Efficacious patient management system
The School of Engineering at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) shared findings of research that was conducted in Apac Districts through two projects namely Piloting a Rural Broadband Connectivity Model (RCBM) and Efficacious patient management system (EPMS).
The findings of the research sponsored by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University research and Innovation Fund(MakRIF) were disseminated during a dissemination seminar held in the College on Friday 24th November 2023, where it was revealed that Apac the host District greatly benefited from the services that not only led to the increased uptake of internet services but also gained through other socio economic areas.
Soybean Breeders Deliberate Strategies for Improving Productivity
The breeders from USA, Brazil and across Africa, including scientists from CGIAR met at Makerere University on 28th November-1st December 2023 to share experiences, best practices and ideas on collaboration, and to brainstorm on ways of improving productivity.
Soybean (Glycine max) serves as one of the most valuable crops in the world, not only as an oil seed crop and feed for livestock and aquaculture, but also as a good and cheap source of protein for human diet and as a biofuel feedstock. The protein content of soybean is the highest among legume crops, averaging 40% on a dry matter basis. Soy-foods are generally considered to be nutritious and healthy based on their nutrient composition which includes protein, fat, carbohydrates, dietary fibres as well as minerals and phytoestrogens (or isoflavones). Due to its nutritional superiority, soybean-based foods are highly recommended for children under 5 years, expectant mothers, and HIV/AIDS patients. Impact studies have shown that regular soy food consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering serum cholesterol by about 33%. It can also reduce the risk of rectal cancer by 80%, mammary tumour by 40%, and breast cancer by 50%.
Production of soybean stands at 264 million MT worldwide, with United States of America (USA), Brazil and Argentina being the largest producers. In Africa, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Uganda are the largest producers, with annual volumes estimated at 1.5 million metric tonnes (FAO, 2017). The Soybean Market size is estimated to reach $259 billion by 2030 (IndustryARC – Soybean Market Forecast 2023-2028).
The economic viability of soy production is determined by the commercial utilization of both its sub-products, meal and oil, which, respectively, account for about two thirds and one third of the crop’s economic value. Soymeal accounts for over 60% of world output of vegetable and animal meals and occupies a prominent position among protein feedstuffs used in the production of feed concentrates, while soybean oil is the single most important vegetable oil, accounting for 20% of global vegetable oil production. The widespread use of soybean oil in particular as edible oil is mainly due to (i) its plentiful and dependable supplies, (ii) its competitive price, (iii) its neutral flavour, and its stability in both unhydrogenated and partially hydrogenated form. Indirectly, the rapid rise in the demand for compound feed has contributed considerably to the rise in soybean and soyoil production. Soybean contributes significantly to the total value added by the agricultural sector in the major producing countries and particularly so in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and the USA. In these countries, soybean and its two main sub-products also occupy an important position in export earnings from agriculture as well as in terms of total merchandise exports (FAO). In Uganda, soybean is number one income earner crop in Northern and Eastern Uganda. Farmers in the region earn at least UGX1,200,000 per hectare per season.
Challenges undermining productivity
Despite the significant strides registered by soybean growing countries, and the health and economic benefits that the crop presents, a number of challenges still undermine productivity. These include; pests and diseases, prolonged droughts and prolonged rains, poor agronomic practices, inaccessibility to good seed by farmers, drudgery in the production chain (Planting and harvesting) and market price fluctuations, as well as mismatches in supply and demand. Surging input costs, supply disruptions of fertilizers and alternative crops caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lingering COVID-19 effects have added more uncertainty and volatility to the soybeans market, driving up the prices. Home grown technologies, local seed business approach, and addressing the whole value chain, are envisaged as some of the strategies to overcome the challenges. Adapting crop management, conserving and improving soil conditions by minimizing tilling, increasing crop diversification, protecting soil from erosion, as well as the development of drought-tolerant varieties, will be key to withstand the emerging climate challenges.
Soybean Breeders meeting at Makerere
Soybean breeders from USA, Brazil, and across Africa including scientists from CGIAR on 28th November 2023 met at Makerere University to share experiences, best practices, and ideas on collaboration, and to brainstorm on ways of improving soybean productivity. The meeting held at the School of Agricultural Sciences (SAS), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) was organized by the Makerere University Centre for Soybean Improvement and Development (MAKCSID) and the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) of the University of Illinois with support from USAID. It was coordinated by Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa, Principal Investigator for the Soybean Breeding and Seed Systems at Makerere, and Prof. Brian Diers from SIL, University of Illinois. It was graced by the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, the Deputy Principal, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, and the Dean, SAS, Dr John Baptist Tumuhairwe. During the meeting, participants shared progress reports of their respective institutions, highlighting the achievements registered in soybean breeding and seed systems, best practices, challenges undermining productivity, and strategies for improvement. In his presentation, Prof. Diers briefed participants on SIL breeding efforts, indicating that 20 varieties had been developed between 2019-2022 up from the 7 developed between 2013-2018. He also shared updates on the renewed funding from USAID, and the support extended towards new breeding programmes at IITA in Nigeria, IITA in Zambia, EIAR in Ethiopia, Makerere University, and SARI in Ghana.
Delivering a presentation on soybean research in Uganda, Prof. Tukamuhabwa noted that the country had registered significant strides with the production of six high yielding varieties namely; Maksoy IN, Maksoy 2N, Maksoy 3N, Maksoy 4N; Maksoy 5N, Maksoy 6N. Recent impact studies indicated that the new varieties developed by MAKCSID were the most planted and accounted for 93% of the soybean varieties grown by Ugandan farmers. Currently, Maksoy 1N is the most widely adopted variety by farmers, while Maksoy 3N has the largest quantities of foundation seed disseminated by the Centre. According to Prof. Tukamuhabwa, the Centre also established a state-of-the-art seed storage facility for early generation seed (Breeders and Foundation seed) and soybean germplasm used for breeding other varieties. Other facilities are soybean processing equipment (soycow) and Soybean roaster that are used to add value to soybeans. The growth of the soybean sub-sector in Uganda is mainly attributed to the availability of a wide range of improved varieties, government investment in soybean research, and increased private sector investment along the soybean value chain. Despite the achievements, Prof. Tukamuhabwa outlined a number of factors undermining soybean seed systems in Uganda including; the presumed high cost of seed by farmers, counterfeit seed in the market, limited interest in self-pollinating crops by most private seed companies, weak seed policy enforcement, limited access to seed, and unpredictable weather conditions. He expressed gratitude to all development partners that have supported the growth of the MAKCSID programme including; USAID through SIL, the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF VODP), NARO, NAcRRI, RUFORUM, AATF, AGRA, Soybean Africa Limited, NAADS, Smart Foods, ISSD Uganda, IITA, and all local soybean stakeholders.
At the meeting, participants including Godfree Chigeza from IITA, Zambia; Abush Tesfaye (IITA, Nigeria), Masresha Yirga (EIAR, Ethiopia), Harun Murithi (SIL), Andrew Scaboo (University of Missouri), Elizabeth De Meyer (University of Missouri), and Carrie Miranda (North Dakota State University) delivered presentations on the progress of their breeding and research programmes.
A major concern arising from the meeting was the increasing threat of rust. Through efforts of the Centre for Soybean Improvement and Development (MAKCSID), the soybean rust pandemic was brought under control, through breeding and dissemination of superior varieties to the farming communities.
Going forward, participants emphasized the need to set up a rust reference centre, early warning systems, and disease nurseries – potential lines for monitoring virulence. They also called for an increase in germplasm acquisition, capacity building for germplasm storage and utilization, introduction of bruchid tolerant genotypes, introduction of soybean genotypes suitable for mechanical harvest, mechanization of production processes, leveraging the scarce research infrastructure, and the development of necessary skills amongst scientists and staff.
In her remarks, the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga expressed gratitude to participants for leading soybean development initiatives. She also appreciated the development partners for supporting the programme. Commenting on the significance of the crop, she said under NDPIII, soybean had been identified as a game changer and one of the crops to improve the country’s food systems. “The crop has been targeted for its oils and nutritional benefits. It is therefore important that we move it to the next level in terms of resistance to diseases, adaption to climate change, and development of fast growing varieties.” She specifically thanked the breeding team led by Prof. Tukamuhabwa for making Makerere the leading Centre in quality soybean seed production and distribution in the country. During their four-day visit, the soybean breeders visited the screen houses, soybean fields, and the Early Generation Seed Unit at MUARIK where they provided enriching insights for improvement. The team also toured Nakabango/Jinja trials as well as the Bugi ZARDI highland soybean trials.
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