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.
Intentionality Key to Nurturing More Women Leaders
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
Dr. Tayeebwa wins UN-SDGF Continental Research Grant
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Fund (UN-SDGF) has awarded to Dr. William Tayeebwa and five of his continental research associates USD 339,650 towards his research project titled “Airwaves for Building Peace and Inclusive Societies: The Case of United Nations Peacekeeping Mission Radio Networks in Africa”. Dr. Tayeebwa is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Communication, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Makerere University.
This continental research project examines how the programming of nine United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission supported radio networks has addressed issues of ‘national integration and security’ in the respective countries. It also probes how the radio programmes have covered the implementation of the 17 SDGs and the country-specific targets. The goal and main output of the project will be a book tentatively titled “United Nations Radio Framing of Peacebuilding in Africa” that has already been solicited by Palgrave McMillan Publishers based on previous research on Burundi and DR Congo by Dr. Tayeebwa.
Call for Applications: Schlumberger 2022-2023 Faculty for the Future Fellowships
The Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future program, launched in 2004, awards fellowships to women from developing and emerging economies to pursue PhD or Post-doctoral research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at leading universities worldwide.
The Schlumberger Foundation is committed to gender parity in science and recognizes that full access to and participation in STEM curriculum is essential for the empowerment of women and girls. By facilitating STEM research for women scientists in emerging economies, scientific and technological advances will be enhanced in the local communities and regions from where selected candidates are awarded this program.
Since its launch in 2004, 770 women from 84 countries have received Faculty for the Future fellowships to pursue PhD and Post-doctoral research in STEM in leading universities and research institutes outside of their home country.
Faculty of the Future grants are based on actual costs for eligible expenses up to a maximum of USD 50,000 per year for a PhD and maximum of USD 40,000 per year for a Post-doc and may be renewed through to completion of studies.
Please see Downloads for the detailed Call For Applications.
If you believe you meet all the eligibility criteria, apply online from September 8th to November 5th 2021: https://www.fftf.slb.com/