Connect with us

Education

CPD, Networking Platforms, Mentorship Needed to Enhance Capacities of Women to Leadership Positions in Uganda

Published

on

On Thursday 5th November, 2020, a project titled Enhancing Capacities of Women to Leadership Positions in Universities in Uganda (WOLEP) held a Dissemination Event at the Central Teaching Facility 1 (CTF1), Makerere University. The Principal Investigator (PI) WOLEP is Dr. Florence Nakamanya, Lecturer, East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development (EASHESD), College of Education and External Studies (CEES). The WOLEP team that also includes Assoc. Prof. Ronald Bisaso and Ms. Sharon Ainmbabazi recommended that Continuous Professional Development (CPD), Suitable Networking Platforms and Structured Mentorship Programmes are needed to enhance capacities of both incumbent and aspiring women leaders in Uganda’s Higher Education sector. The Dean, EASHESD, Assoc. Prof. Ronald Bisaso who was the moderator welcomed members to the dissemination and gave a preamble of the WOLEP project. The event started with a prayer led by Sr. Bernadette Lutaaya.

The event attracted a number of distinguished personalities who attended both physically and online. In attendance online were; Prof. Joy C. Kwesiga,  the Vice Chancellor of Kabale University and  the Guest of Honour, Prof. William Bazeyo, the Chairperson Grants Management Committee (GMC), Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), Prof. Charles Masembe, GMC Member, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi,the Principal, College of Education and External Studies(CEES), Ms. Harriet Adong, Head, Communication, RIF, Prof. Monica Chibita, Dean, Faculty of Journalism, Media and Communication, Uganda Christian University (UCU), Assoc. Prof. Betty Ezati, Dean, School of Education, Makerere University and GMC Member. In the physical meeting, we had the project team members, women leaders from Ugandan Universities including Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Ndejje University, Kampala International University, St. Lawrence University, Al-Mustafa Islamic College and female employees from the National Planning Authority (NPA) among others.

A Screenshot of the ZOOM session with Clockwise: Dr. Florence Nakamanya, Prof. Charles Masembe, Ms. Sylvia Nakirya and Prof. William Bazeyo

Dr. Nakamanya in her presentation highlighted that the project was made possible with funding from the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Mak-RIF. The PI noted that there exist leadership training programmes aimed at building capacities of female leaders in different parts of the world including Uganda. However, the numbers of women in leadership positions are still miserably low. For instance, she noted, we have only three female Vice Chancellors in Uganda and yet there are over 50 universities. Besides, the leadership training programmes provided are adhoc in nature, they are developed in the western world and adapted to African context, do not meet the current and emerging needs and largely depend on the availability of funding. This then created the need for the WOLEP project.

She enlisted the objectives the project as follows;

  1. To analyze the Leadership-related Training Programmes (LTPs) that women in leadership positions in universities in Uganda have attended.
  2. To establish the leadership-related competence profile for women in leadership positions in universities in Uganda.
  3. To investigate whether the existing leadership-related training programmes influence women’s aspirations and progression to leadership training positions in universities in Uganda.
  4. To examine women’s experiences with the existing Leadership-related Training Programmes in universities in Uganda.
  5. To identify the capacity needs and what works for women to occupy leadership positions in universities in Uganda.
The WOLEP Team R-L: Ms. Ainmbabazi Sharon, PI-Dr. Florence Nakamanya, Dean EASHESD-Assoc. Prof. Ronald Bisaso with Mak-RIF Communications Officer-Ms. Harriet Adong at the event.

The WOLEP project employed an interpretive approach to research because the team wanted to get an in-depth understanding of the issue that was under investigation. The participants of the project included the incumbent and aspiring female leaders. The Incumbents comprised of senior female leaders like Vice Chancellors, the middle leaders (Deputy Principals and Deans) and the lower leaders such as examination and research coordinators. The aspiring female leaders constituted any female academic member of staff in the university. The participants were purposively selected on the basis that they had ever attended a leadership-related training programmes and were drawn from the different categories of Ugandan Universities. The universities were categorized into public, private religious-affiliated and private-for-profit universities. Data was collected through interviewing 29 participants comprising of 2 senior female leaders, 9 middle female leaders, 9 lower female leaders and 9 aspiring female leaders.

The findings of the study include;

Objective One, where different Leadership-related Training Programmes (LTPs) were analyzed: It was discovered that the participants had attended international leadership-related programmes. Whereas the senior female leaders had participated in programmes organized by the Commonwealth, Higher Education Resources Services, Inter-University Council of East Africa, RUFORUM, the middle female leaders highlighted trainings such as the International Deans’ Course adn COACH AFRICA workshops in South Africa and Finland. Importantly, the international trainings were attended by mostly participants at all levels of leadership from the public universities. The middle female leaders had attended national leadership-related trainings particularly those organized by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) whereas the lower and aspiring female leaders had mostly participated in internal institutional trainings.

Objective Two, which was about the competence profile of female leaders: She said that during the interviews, the participants shared competences related to leadership and management, teaching and research. Specifically, competences related to pedagogy, curriculum, research, social challenges, customer care, ICT, confidence building, teamwork, conflict resolution among others. She asked participants to reflect on how they teach and supervise graduate students in higher education.

Objective Three, on whether the existing LTPs influenced women’s aspirations and progression to Leadership: The female leaders shared that the training enabled them to acquire knowledge, share experiences, provided opportunities for personal professional development and networking. In-depth analysis had confirmed that the female leaders’ experiences with the existing LTPs influenced their desire to aspire and progress to academic and administrative leadership positions in Ugandan universities. For example, a female senior leader serving in a public university had said that “we are always given an opportunity to share experiences in the leadership training programmes. I ask colleagues and they would tell me how to solve it. I would get tips that I learn which makes me perform better in my work.”

Objective Four focused on experiences with LTPs: The focus was on the programme structure, stakeholder involvement and post-training experiences. The participants shared that the content provided in the trainings was too broad, theoretical and delivered in a very short period of time and yet very costly. She noted that there was limited stakeholder involvement, the training needs analysis was hardly done and there was unclear selection process. It was also found out that most of the LTPs that female leaders attend in Ugandan universities lacked the aspect of mentorship and did not make follow-ups. In view of this, achievement of the intended outcomes was constrained.

Objective Five identified the Capacity Needs for female leaders: The findings showed that the female incumbent and aspiring leaders would like to be capacitated in areas including networking and mentorship, research and publishing as well as leadership and management skills. 

The study concluded that:

  1. Female leaders had attended International, National, and Institutional LTPs.
  2. The competence profile of female leaders comprised of leadership and management, teaching and research skills developed from the training programmes.
  3. LTPs had influenced women’s desire to aspire and progress to leadership positions.
  4. LTPs were too costly, theoretical with broad content, with limited stakeholders’ involvement, no follow up and lacked mentorship opportunities.
  5. Networking, mentorship, research and publishing as well as leadership and management skills were the capacity needs of incumbent and aspiring female leaders in Ugandan Universities.

The study recommended that:

  1. Continuous Professional Development should be rolled out for both incumbent and aspiring female leaders. The modularized programme that has been developed out of the current study will span a reasonable period of time and will be flexibly delivered using blended training approaches at the East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development, Makerere University.
  2. Universities should initiate sustainable networking platforms that provide avenues for incumbent and aspiring leaders to share experiences, challenges and new insights on how to perform their duties through periodic meetings and reflective seminars that could be flexibly organized or delivered using online technologies and social learning platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Zoom etc.
  3. The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and other relevant stakeholders should collaboratively initiate and support robust structured mentorship programmes for women in higher education where those with rich experience are invited to share their life stories which could be published in different formats like videos and used to continually nurture aspiring leaders and equally enhance women’s progression to leadership

The study proposed an intervention/solution/programme informed by a range of capacity needs that were highlighted by women at the different levels of leadership. The two modules developed to be flexibly delivered are:

  1. Leadership and Management in Higher Education
  2. Career Advancement of Women in Higher Education

The PI shared a quote by Sheryl Sandberg:“If more women are in leadership roles, we’ll stop assuming they shouldn’t be”.

Prof. Joy Kwesiga, Vice Chancellor Kabale University

In her welcome remarks, Prof. Joy Kwesiga the Guest of Honour congratulated the project team on the important research in which she participated and that she had been looking forward to the general research results. She highlighted that there was a minimal number of females that participate in higher education leadership. She shared her past experience while serving in Makerere University and expected the findings to trigger reflection on how to increase the number of women in leadership positions through established policies, support mechanisms and practices. Prof. Kwesiga noted that when the only female presidential candidate Nancy Kalembe said that females are going to break the glass ceiling and that becoming president was one of them, her mind was drawn to the importance of gender perspectives in leadership and management, in teaching, and research. Finally, she said she was glad that the study had been successfully conducted and that it would open up into a wider field so that we can have specialists.

Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi

The Principal CEES, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi in his remarks, congratulated the lead researcher Dr. Nakamanya Florence and the research team upon attaining the milestone. He said that, whereas research was a boost to our academic endeavors, it was also a springboard for opening up space for national development. He further said that he strongly believed that the findings would go a long way in informing gender policy and other aspects related to gender and Higher Education. He thanked the Dean, East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development (EASHESD), for the support in ensuring that the School contributes to the body of knowledge, and for impacting on the College’s visibility. He further thanked the Mak-RIF team for the support and for identifying and funding the special area of study on enhancing capacities of women to leadership positions in universities. He concluded by noting that young researchers like Dr. Nakamanya were pillars for the University’s development.

Prof. Charles Masembe

Prof. Charles Masembe, Member of the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) in his speech welcomed the participants noting that they had been drawn from different universities and organisations. He thanked them for making time to attend the dissemination. He thanked the researchers and innovators for their tireless efforts. In a special way, he thanked the Government of Uganda for the continued support to Makerere University and for funding research through Mak-RIF. He further said that for a country to move from lower to middle income status, it needs research. In addition, he said that Mak-RIF is aimed at complementing available research funding to address unfunded priorities critical to accelerating development across different sectors of the economy in Uganda. He was happy that the WOLEP project had unearthed the capacity needs of the different categories of female leaders. He implored the project team to partner with a range of stakeholders to address the capacity needs as they roll out the project’s proposed training programme.

Prof. William Bazeyo

Prof. William Bazeyo Chairperson Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC), thanked the organizers for the Dissemination. He highlighted that this was the first dissemination he had attended ever since the fund started. He congratulated Dr. Florence Nakamanya and her team and thanked the Principal, Professor Masagazi for supporting research efforts in CEES.  He noted that he believed in negotiation and he challenged every researcher to become a negotiator so as to ensure research uptake by the policy makers. He noted that since Makerere has the capacity and the negotiation skills, it should do better. He acknowledged the contributions of other teams on RIF1 and RIF2 and announced that RIF3 had been approved. He emphasized that whereas RIF1 was UGX 30 billion, RIF2 was UGX 30 billion and COVID-19 Response UGX 9.3 billion, he had negotiated for a greater allocation of funds for RIF3 and it will be higher, if not double.

He informed participants that he was also negotiating on how Makerere University (Mak) can support other universities to do research. He cited an example of a model university in Malaysia which was leading in research and had been funded to support research and capacity building in other public universities. Furthermore, he re-echoed the need of researchers to reach out to stakeholders and different ministries to share research findings. He called upon all researchers to begin writing policy briefs. He finally set a challenge to his colleagues on the GMC to start a programme to train researchers on how to write policy briefs.

Article by John Nuwagaba, CEES

Education

Boosting Cognitive Development Through Early Childhood Nutrition Education

Published

on

Integration of nutrition education into the training programs for early childhood development (ECD) teachers research dissemination and launch of the recommendation report by College of Education and External Studies funded by Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), 11th June 2024, AVU Conference Room, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

In an ambitious move to enhance early childhood development, researchers from Makerere University’s College of Education and External Studies are advocating for the integration of nutrition education into the training programs for early childhood development (ECD) teachers. This groundbreaking initiative aims to equip future educators with essential knowledge and skills to foster healthy eating habits among young learners, potentially leading to significant improvements in their cognitive development, academic performance, and long-term health outcomes.

The Call for Integration

Led by Dr. Josephine Esaete, the research team highlighted the critical role of nutrition in the overall development and well-being of young children. Dr. Esaete emphasized that teachers, particularly those in early childhood education, have a unique opportunity to shape the eating habits and nutrition knowledge of their students. By incorporating nutrition education into teacher training programs, educators can become powerful agents of change, promoting healthy behaviors that will benefit children throughout their lives.

Dr. Josephine Esaete. Integration of nutrition education into the training programs for early childhood development (ECD) teachers research dissemination and launch of the recommendation report by College of Education and External Studies funded by Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), 11th June 2024, AVU Conference Room, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

“By integrating nutrition education into teacher training programs, we can ensure that early childhood teacher educators are equipped with the necessary knowledge to promote healthy eating habits and behaviors among young children,” Dr. Esaete said during the dissemination workshop.

A Holistic Approach

The dissemination of the research and launch of the recommendation report saw a strong emphasis on collaboration. The research team underscored the importance of a cooperative effort between schools, parents, and community organizations to guarantee children access to nutritious foods both at school and at home. This holistic approach aims to address food insecurity and promote overall health and well-being among students, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where malnutrition is a significant issue. In Uganda, alarming statistics reveal that 49% of child deaths are associated with malnutrition, and a substantial proportion of school-age children suffer from stunting, underweight, thinness, and obesity.

Prof. Anthony Muwagga Mugagga, the principal of the college, reinforced the need for this comprehensive strategy, urging the focus to extend beyond early childhood learners to include those in universal primary education who often face hunger. He highlighted the necessity of addressing food insecurity across all educational settings to ensure that children have access to nutritious meals.

Integration of nutrition education into the training programs for early childhood development (ECD) teachers research dissemination and launch of the recommendation report by College of Education and External Studies funded by Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), 11th June 2024, AVU Conference Room, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Ms Harriet Adong, who represented the Makerere University Research and innovation fund, the funding agency congratulated the research team saying that the proposed guidelines are crucial for promoting the health and well-being of young children in schools. She also emphasized the importance of ongoing research and collaboration to ensure effective implementation of these guidelines.

Implementing the Vision

The project activities, already initiated in five primary teacher colleges including Bishop Willis CPTC and St. Aloysius Core Primary Teachers College, aim to make lasting changes in the curriculum. Dr. Esaete and her team are working on a policy brief to advocate for these changes at the governmental level, aiming to influence the Department of Teacher Education, Training, and Development at the Ministry of Education and Sports.

Prof. Merab Kagoda, Dr. Josephine Esaete, Dr. David Kabugo. Integration of nutrition education into the training programs for early childhood development (ECD) teachers research dissemination and launch of the recommendation report by College of Education and External Studies funded by Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), 11th June 2024, AVU Conference Room, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Key recommendations from the study include:

  1. Sensitizing ECD teacher trainees about the MoES (2013) school feeding guidelines.
  2. Encouraging teacher training colleges to embrace these feeding guidelines.
  3. Continuous parental sensitization on providing healthy and safe midday snacks for children.
  4. Initiating nutrition interventions that start with teacher education.
  5. Reworking the content of nutrition courses taught to ECD teacher trainees to incorporate emerging global nutrition issues relevant to their professional practice.

Paving the Way Forward

The research team, comprising Dr. Josephine Esaete, Mr. Edward Kansiime, Dr. Gaston Ampeire Tumuhimbise, Dr. Michael Walimbwa, and Dr. Alfred Buluma, is committed to seeing these recommendations take root. Their efforts signify a proactive step towards creating a supportive environment where children can learn about nutrition and make healthy choices, ultimately shaping the well-being of the next generation.

As these initiatives progress, the hope is that by equipping educators with the right tools and knowledge, the cognitive development and health of young children in Uganda, and potentially across Sub-Saharan Africa, will see significant improvement. The integration of nutrition education into early childhood development teacher training is not just a proposal; it’s a necessary evolution in educational practice that promises to nurture healthier, more informed future generations.

Continue Reading

Education

CEPIDE Study Identifies Challenges and Solutions for Low Doctoral Completion Rates in Universities

Published

on

Left to Right: Dr. Mulira from NCHE, Prof. Openjuru, Chair Vice Chancellors' Forum and Prof. Robert Wamala, from Mak-RIF. College of Education and External Studies (CEES), Mak-RIF-funded Capability Enhancement Project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE) study research dissemination and launch of Innovative Doctoral Supervision for the 21st Century: Specialized Capacity Building Training Course for Doctoral Supervisors in Uganda, 30th May 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

A recent study by the Capability Enhancement Project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE) reveals significant challenges in the country’s doctoral education system. The study, conducted over the period 2011-2024, underscores low conversion and completion rates among doctoral candidates in Uganda, raising concerns about the future of the nation’s research and innovation capacity.

The study findings were released during a dissemination workshop held on May 30, 2024 at Makerere University.

Key Findings:

  1. Low Transition Rates: Only 7.6% of master’s graduates advanced to doctoral studies.
  2. Enrollment Figures: Public institutions enrolled approximately 1,903 doctoral students from 2011 to 2020.
  3. Completion Rates: Of these, only 69.6% completed their doctoral programs by 2024, amounting to just 1,324 graduates.
  4. Institutional Disparities: Makerere University dominated doctoral completions, accounting for 81.4% of the total.
  5. Gender Disparity: Female graduates represented only 33.8% of doctoral completions.
  6. STEM Focus: 58% of doctoral completions at Makerere University were in STEM fields.
Dr. Irene Etomaru - PI of the Project. College of Education and External Studies (CEES), Mak-RIF-funded Capability Enhancement Project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE) study research dissemination and launch of Innovative Doctoral Supervision for the 21st Century: Specialized Capacity Building Training Course for Doctoral Supervisors in Uganda, 30th May 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Irene Etomaru – PI of the Project.

Challenges Identified:

The study highlights several constraints impacting the doctoral pipeline, including:

  • Supervision Challenges: Insufficient support and resources for doctoral supervisors.
  • Situational Factors: External and personal circumstances affecting students’ ability to complete their studies.
  • Institutional Factors: Lack of robust support systems within universities.
  • Student Characteristics: Variability in students’ preparedness and resilience.

The team also used the same forum to unveil and launch a course module intended to equip supervisors with more skills. The course named Innovative Doctoral Supervision for the 21st Century: Specialized Capacity Building Training Course for Doctoral Supervisors in Uganda.

Speaking at the launch, the guest of honour, the ED of the NCHE, represented by Dr. Norah Miliira underscored the importance of doctoral studies saying NCHE recognizes the need for critical high-level knowledge and skills to power Uganda’s economy through research and Innovations. Dr. Muliira noted that NCHE had proposed to government to include a National Research Fund in its planning in an effort to support doctoral research. 

Dr. Tom D. Balojja - Co-PI of the project. College of Education and External Studies (CEES), Mak-RIF-funded Capability Enhancement Project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE) study research dissemination and launch of Innovative Doctoral Supervision for the 21st Century: Specialized Capacity Building Training Course for Doctoral Supervisors in Uganda, 30th May 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Tom D. Balojja – Co-PI of the project.

Prof. Julius Kikooma, the Dean East African School of Higher Education and Development, advised that if we are to meet the development needs of the country, we ought to produce 1,000 PhDs every year.

Prof. Anthony Mugagga, the Principal of CEES called on NCHE to formulate PhD policies that have crosscutting courses, a thing he said would help in quality assurance.

The Executive Secretary-Uganda National Council for Science & Technology, in a speech read for him by Ms Beth Mutumba said the council is set to establish a research integrity code of conduct for which universities will have institutionalized policies to cab unethical practices and continue dissemination of the national regulatory frameworks.

Dr. Hamis Mugendawala who represented the ED of National Planning Authority cautioned universities against focusing on training more PhDs but rather focus on training quality PhDs in skills scarce areas. He pledged NPA’s support in implementing some of the key recommendations of the study.

Participants at the event. College of Education and External Studies (CEES), Mak-RIF-funded Capability Enhancement Project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE) study research dissemination and launch of Innovative Doctoral Supervision for the 21st Century: Specialized Capacity Building Training Course for Doctoral Supervisors in Uganda, 30th May 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Participants at the event.

The research is funded by the government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund. Represented by Prof. Robert Wamala, the MakRIF chair, Prof. Fred Masagazi-Masaazi, congratulated the research team upon the study and said that the findings will be crucial in guiding policy makers and stakeholders in addressing the skills gap in the country. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between universities and government agencies to ensure that research outcomes are effectively utilized for national development. He appreciated government’s support to the university.

Conclusions: The study concludes that Uganda’s doctoral pipeline is “leaky and constrained,” resulting in low participation in graduate education and subsequently fewer researchers in the national system. This shortfall affects the country’s ability to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 9.5 and hampers progress toward national development goals. Additionally, the underrepresentation of women in research careers may further impede efforts to attain gender parity.

Recommendations:

CEPIDE proposes several measures to address these issues:

  • National Framework: Development of a national framework for doctoral education to enhance quality and accountability.
  • Research Culture: Promotion of a supportive research culture, ensuring proper funding and resources.
  • Supervisor Training: Mandatory training and certification for doctoral supervisors.
  • Equity Initiatives: Affirmative actions to boost female participation in doctoral programs and research careers.
  • Quality Assurance: Establishment of a specialized quality assurance system for doctoral education.
  • Institutional Support: Enhanced support services for graduate students, focusing on information, resources, and personal wellbeing.
Participants at the event. College of Education and External Studies (CEES), Mak-RIF-funded Capability Enhancement Project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE) study research dissemination and launch of Innovative Doctoral Supervision for the 21st Century: Specialized Capacity Building Training Course for Doctoral Supervisors in Uganda, 30th May 2024, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Participants at the event.

Implications for the Future:

These recommendations aim to bolster Uganda’s research and innovation ecosystem by improving the doctoral education pipeline. Implementing these measures is crucial for increasing the number of doctoral graduates, enhancing research capacity, and fostering national development. The focus on gender parity and STEM fields aligns with Uganda’s strategic priorities, but addressing systemic issues in the doctoral education system remains essential for sustained progress.

About CEPIDE:

The Capability Enhancement Project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE) is part of the Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund (Mak-RIF). It is funded by the Government of Uganda to support impactful research and innovation, aiming to align academic outputs with national development priorities.

As Uganda continues to position itself as a knowledge society, the findings and recommendations of the CEPIDE study offer a roadmap for strengthening doctoral education and, by extension, the nation’s research and innovation potential.

Research Team:

Dr. Irene Etomaru, Dr. Tom Darlington Balojja, Dr. Louis Theophilus Kakinda

Continue Reading

Education

Mak vision for blended learning is alive, Prof Kakumba

Published

on

A group picture of the guests, research team and participants of the workshop. Dissemination workshop of the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF)-funded Comprehensive Evaluation of Blended Learning (CEBL) Phase II by Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL), College of Education and External Studies (CEES), May 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Makerere University’s vision for blended learning which was adopted during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, is on track, the Acting Vice Chancellor (VC) who doubles as the Deputy VC Prof Umar Kakumba has said.

Prof Umar Kakumba said Makerere has already integrated Open, Distance and e-learning (ODeL) into the teaching and learning of students.

He said the institution has ensured capacity building with two high-end servers installed to support the generation of course content.

“The servers are very powerful and will be enabling tools for lecturers during repository of heavy files, videos and other learning materials,” DVC said.

 He was speaking at the dissemination workshop of Comprehensive Evaluation of Blended Learning (CEBL) Phase II at the university’s main campus in Kampala recently.

Researchers led by Mr Arthur Mugisha, the principal investigator (PI) of CEBL, conducted research to assess the e-learning model integrated into teaching and learning.

Their research launched in 2021, was aimed at evaluating long distance learning, how it works and the requirements to ensure effectiveness in higher institutions of learning.

The first phase of the study was conducted on undergraduate students.

CEBL I

The study revealed that the students called for sustainable resources, technologies and methods to improve the learning of students.

The study evaluated the learner’s status, to establish readiness, satisfaction and challenges they were facing and also establish potential solutions to the challenges they had.

“51 percent of the students were willing and were ready to take up blended learning for purpose of continuity because they were under lockdown,” the research finds revealed.

The study also indicated students were not consulted much but it was something that was helping them as well.

Prof. Kakumba Umar, the Acting VC. Dissemination workshop of the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF)-funded Comprehensive Evaluation of Blended Learning (CEBL) Phase II by Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL), College of Education and External Studies (CEES), May 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Kakumba Umar, the Acting VC.

However, 49 percent of the students from the samples were a little bit skeptical, critical and were reluctant to adopt blended learning.

“60 percent of the respondents had not received adequate learner support but as students were looking for support, the lecturers were also looking for support,” the research further stated.

Mr Mugisha added: “89 percent of undergraduate students were getting support from their lecturers via zoom. And accessing this platform was mainly through smartphones and laptops.”

CEBL research also revealed how students at the end of the day, accepted that e-learning was the only way to go.

“We suggested that there should be a one-student support centre because students were asking how they can be supported,” the project PI said.

The support needed included a number of players that is the technical support, academic support, social support, equipment and resources and non-academic support.

CEBL Phase II

E-learning evaluation phase II looked at graduate students and how they understood ODeL.

According to the research, graduate students were yearning for quality blended learning and were so interested in it because it is convenient.

However, they noted people had misunderstood blended as the use of Zoom which was not correct.

Mr Arthur Mugisha the PI. Dissemination workshop of the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF)-funded Comprehensive Evaluation of Blended Learning (CEBL) Phase II by Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL), College of Education and External Studies (CEES), May 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Mr Arthur Mugisha the PI.

Being a working class group, they believed if the university provided a cross-cutting course during entry to introduce them to how e-learning workers, it would be helpful to them.

e-learning infrastructure

IoDEL scholars led by Prof Kakumba worn a grant of Shs7bn to enhance capacity building including upgrading of the Makerere University e-learning (Muele) platform.

The University management has ensured the internet at campus is strengthened.

“Muele has been upgraded to increase on the operating speed because we received complaints that it was not stable and could not provide a conducive learning environment to students.”

“In the capacity building process, all the programmes offered by Makerere both at undergraduate and post-graduate level have a slot on Muele,” Prof Kakumba said.

Introduction of e-learning course for Mak staff

Working with the Institute of teaching and learning under the College of Education, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Makerere looks at capacity building.

A short certificate course is in the pipeline to equip academic staff with the skills needed, Prof. Kakumba said.

He said Senate and the University Council passed a proposal of retooling lecturers and once approved, all staff will be subjected to that course.

The short course is expected to take four-six weeks of training focusing on how to design course content, assessing competitiveness of learners and setting learning outcomes among others.

The proposal was informed by the Directorate of Quality Assurance after learning that some academic staff lacked delivery skills when teaching o-line.

Implementation of the e-learning Policy

Makerere’s learning agenda through the policy framework was passed by Senate and University Council concerning blended learning and a brief report will be sent to parliament.

Prof. Masagazi, the chair Grants management committee of MakRIF. Dissemination workshop of the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF)-funded Comprehensive Evaluation of Blended Learning (CEBL) Phase II by Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL), College of Education and External Studies (CEES), May 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Masagazi, the chair Grants management committee of MakRIF.

The policy the DVC said is a pillar of innovative teaching and the Mak revised teaching and learning policy 2023 has enshrined the blended teaching and learning.

Principal of the College of education, Prof Anthony Muwagga Mugagga, noted that all lectures at his college have already adopted blended learning.

“As a leader in the educational pedagogy and ICT, we will be able to help the entire university to adopt blended learning and teaching and to help our students,” Prof Mugagga said.

Call for government support towards research

Prof Fred Masagazi Masaazi, the Chairperson of the Grants Committee/Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund (Makrif), called for government support.

He noted that the university receives Shs30 billion every financial year but he was concerned that for this fiscal year about Shs5 billion had not been received.

“Applications are overwhelming but there are no funds currently to facilitate research. We request the government for funds before the end of this financial Year,” he said.

Continue Reading

Trending