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Prof. Nawangwe Shares Mak’s ODeL Milestones at 16th RUFORUM AGM High Level Dialogue



As part of activities to mark its 16th Annual General Meeting (AGM), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) held a High Level Dialogue on the theme Realignment towards Online Teaching and Learning in Universities: Learning from each other. The virtual event held on 18th November 2020 was split into two sessions, with the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as Lead Speaker for the first and Prof Francis Petersen, Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of Free State, Southern Africa as Lead Speaker for the second.

Welcoming participants to the dialogue, RUFORUM Executive Secretary, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu noted that galvanizing efforts towards online teaching and learning in Universities in Africa remains an important and relevant factor. This, he said, would require in-depth analysis of modern digital technologies, pedagogical approaches that must be adopted as well as knowledge and skills to facilitate the transition to online teaching and learning in the face of COVID-19.

The first session was moderated by Prof. Dora F. Edu-Buandoh, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. She asked the Lead Speaker, Prof. Nawangwe to give an overview of and discuss how integration of digital technologies can be effected in African universities’ systems to cause meaningful impact. She also requested him to share the key challenges universities have recorded in mainstreaming online teaching and learning in the Higher Education System in Africa.

Delivering his presentation in the context of Makerere University, Prof. Nawangwe shared that despite numerous technological advances and increased penetration of smart phones in Africa, the digital divide is still real and is further compounded by factors such as unreliable electricity supply. He nevertheless pointed out that the Makerere University E-Learning Environment (MUELE) is a Moodle-based Learning Management System (LMS) backed by some of the best ICT infrastructure with a bandwidth capacity of 0.5Mbps. MUELE had 791 well-designed, interactive, activity-based courses before April 2020 and 157 have since been added.

The Vice Chancellor said that Makerere University opted to embrace blended learning, which makes use of a combination of technologies, approaches and methodologies, to deliver courses to learners separated by time and space from facilitators as well as fellow learners. He added that the University Open, Distance and eLearning (ODeL) Policy was approved by the University Council in 2015. The policy paved way for the creation of an ODeL pedagogy support Unit, the Institute of Open, Distance and eLearning (IODeL).

Prof. Nawangwe shared that both the previous and current (2020-2030) institutional Strategic Plans had recognized ODeL as a major strategy and as such, put in place quality assurance systems as outlined in the Quality Assurance Policy. He said that whereas the current institutional budget of UGX 200Million per annum to support ODeL was still low, support towards the enabling environment; ICT Services and Internet bandwidth costs, is close to US$ 1Million.

Sharing results from the E-Learning Readiness Tracer Study conducted by the University prior to emergency ODeL rollout, Prof. Nawangwe noted that 75% of over 12,400 student respondents had expressed willingness to continue their studies online. Some of the challenges cited by students unwilling to continue learning online included high data costs, lack of laptops and poor connectivity in rural areas, among others.

To help support the emergency ODeL rollout and ensure that these genuine concerns were addressed, the Vice Chancellor had negotiated with telecommunication companies to effect zero rating of Makerere University’s E-Learning and other related websites. The University has also negotiated with equipment manufacturers to help secure affordable laptops for staff and students.

In the spirit of leaving no student behind, the University has appointed E-Learning coordinators for each School and is making progress with developing learning assistance/options for students with visual impairment and other disabilities. The Vice Chancellor concluded by sharing that Makerere University has since 1991 been preparing for ODeL delivery, which is the future of teaching and learning even after the COVID-19 pandemic dissipates. He summed it all up by saying that recent policy changes brought about by COVID-19 will enable the institution to rollout emergency ODeL to traditionally face-to-face programmes whilst strengthening existing ones.

The first panelist of the day was Prof. Address Malata, Vice Chancellor of the Malawi University of Science and Technology. In her presentation, she noted that lack of; policy frameworks, necessary infrastructure, experience in pedagogy by academic staff and experience in learning by students were some of the key challenges in realigning learning content for effective online delivery.

In line with online pedagogy, Prof. Malata said that the lack of knowledge and skills to; customize content for teaching, engage with and properly assess students were some of the biggest challenges for academic staff. She also identified lack of time management skills to effectively plan for online teaching as another major hindrance for staff.

On the part of online learning by students, she outlined the lack of knowledge and skills to; handle non-traditional forms of lecture delivery such as video and audio, engage with lecturers and fellow students, and deal with non-traditional forms of assessment such as quizzes as some of the challenges. Prof. Malata pointed out most students’ lack of experience with the learner centered approach, which requires them to actively participate in classroom activities as an additional challenge.

Linking African Universities with knowledge centres in the area of online teaching and learning is a precursor for institutions learning from each other. Explaining how this may be achieved, Prof. Malata said there is need to create centres of excellence in online teaching and learning in different Universities in Africa. These, she said, may be complemented by the creation of an annual peer-reviewed conference and an African Journal both dedicated to online teaching and learning.

 Prof. Youssao Abdou Karim Issaka from the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin was the second panelist of the day. He represented the Beninese Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, H.E. Hon. Prof. Dr. Eleonore Ladekan Yayi. Prof. Issaka noted that whereas internet bandwidth was initially insufficient to support online teaching and learning, the Government of Benin had managed to improve it to 100Mbps per University. The country has four major universities, with two of these being multidisciplinary.

In a bid to support online teaching and learning in the wake of COVID-19, the Beninese Government had successfully negotiated with telecommunication companies for zero-rating access to online teaching and learning platforms in all universities including privately-owned ones. In order to ensure quality in Higher Education, Prof. Issaka said that his Government had put in place a project to restructure all courses to be tenable online. This as well as other interventions have enabled Universities in Benin to stay on schedule to complete the current academic year in December 2020.  

Responding to a question from Prof. Edu-Buandoh on how the integrity of the examinations process will be maintained under ODeL, Prof. Nawangwe shared that examinations at Makerere University will not be conducted online for this academic year. He added that whereas exams for this semester would be conducted in situ, the University was working with experts from various fields on protocols to facilitate online examinations in the future.

Article by Public Relations Office


CEPIDE Lays Ground for Innovative Doctoral Education in Ugandan HEIs



The Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (R) addresses participants as L-R Dr. Nora Mulira-NCHE, Dr. Sabrina Kitaka - Mak-RIF GMC and Mr. Timothy Sejjoba-MoES listen at the CEPIDE Research Dissemination, 28th January 2021, CTF2, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

CEPIDE is an acronym for the Capability Enhancement Project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE). Funded by the Government of Uganda under the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), this two-phase project aims to build institutional capacity and individual capabilities of doctoral supervisors at Ugandan universities by giving rise to a shift from traditional modalities to innovative approaches of doctoral education.

On 28th January 2021, stakeholders gathered in the Central Teaching Facility 2 (CTF2) Auditorium, Makerere University, to receive findings from Phase one of the project. This phase entailed conducting a baseline study of the state of doctoral education in Uganda. Phase one will also involve writing a course module for a specialized blended capacity building training for supervisors of doctoral candidates at Ugandan universities. Phase two on the other hand will involve implementing the course module developed in phase one as well as creating a database and an online platform for e-networking, knowledge sharing and professional support among doctoral supervisors in Ugandan universities.

The East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development (EASHESD) under which CEPIDE falls has aligned its activities along four thematic areas namely; Policy and advocacy, Research and Innovations, Leadership and Management, and Training and Learning. These thematic areas position EASHESD to contribute to research in the understanding of the field of higher education, with the CEPIDE study intricately feeding into this.

EASHESD is predominantly a graduate School offering Masters and PhD programmes and as such, the CEPIDE study on improving the quality of Doctoral Education and Training in Universities in Uganda is a fulfillment of its mandate. Addressing the dissemination workshop, the EASHESD Dean Dr. Ronald Bisaso elaborated that CEPIDE study is aligned to the School’s own practice and grounded in research undertaken therein.

“As Dean, I am happy to note that the members of staff from the East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development wrote proposals and received funding to support three projects under the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF). These projects include: i.  Capability Enhancement project for Innovative Doctoral Education at Ugandan Universities (CEPIDE), ii. Enhancing Women to Leadership positions in Universities in Uganda (WOLEP) and iii. Pedagogical  Leadership of Academic Staff in Higher Education Institutions to Enhance Graduate Work Readiness and Transition to Work (PLASHE-WIL).

“Through the aforementioned research projects, the School has ensured that key stakeholders namely female Vice Chancellors, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), National Planning Authority (NPA) and the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) participate in the research projects as well as actively engage with researchers during the dissemination of findings on higher education” remarked Dr. Bisaso.

Seated L-R: Dr. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Dr. Nora Mulira-NCHE, Dr. Sabrina Kitaka – Mak-RIF GMC and Mr. Timothy Sejjoba-MoES with CEPIDE PI-Dr. Irene Etomaru (In Blue 2nd Row) and other participants at the Research Dissemination, 28th January 2021, CTF2, Makerere University.

He concluded by saying that the involvement of key stakeholders in research and dissemination has enabled EASHESD to build a network that connects research in higher education with Government agencies that focus on higher education and development as well as universities in Uganda.

Presenting an overview of the project, the Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Irene Etomaru said the study was driven by the acute shortage of a critical mass of doctorates with requisite knowledge and skill sets to undertake translatable research and train innovative researchers in Uganda. “There are only about 26 researchers per million inhabitants in Uganda, which is well below the world average of 1,083, about 1,000 PhD holders in various disciplines are unevenly distributed across the academia, government ministries, agencies and research institutes and 80% of these are at Makerere University.”

The PI shared that through CEPIDE, it is envisaged that an Enhanced Postgraduate Environment (EPE) will be created in Ugandan universities. The EPE, she said, would lead to the nurturing of a new cadre of doctorates able to undertake translatable research, train innovative researchers as well as develop innovative models to address local societal needs and improve Uganda’s innovative capacity.

In terms of data collection, the CEPIDE team reviewed laws, plans, policies and reports, and held Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) with NCHE. Furthermore, they collected data from fourteen institutions offering doctoral education and training in Uganda and held in-depth interviews with a total of 49 participants.

Prof. Fred E. K. Bakkabulindi another member of the research team tasked with the role of mentorship then delved into the context and history of doctoral training in Uganda. Statistics for the period 1970-2020 revealed that Makerere University at 90% had the highest number of PhDs among the five doctorate awarding Public HEIs in Uganda. Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) followed with 7.2%, Gulu University (GU) with 1.5%, Uganda Management Institute (UMI) with 1.1% and finally Kyambogo University (KyU) with 0.2%. The glaring difference in percentages could be attributed to the fact that whereas Makerere’s statistics stretch back to 1970, the other four HEIs only started awarding PhDs in the 2010s with GU coming closest in 2013.

The statistics shared by Prof. Bakkabulindi further proved the unfortunate fact that doctoral education and training in Uganda is biased in favour of males. Only 23.4% of the total numbers of PhD graduates in the aforementioned 50-year period were female. UMI led the percentages with 45.5%, followed by Makerere at 23.6%, MUST at 20.5%, GU at 14.2% while KyU is yet to graduate any female PhDs.

Prof. Bakkabulindi also examined the Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) versus non-STEM dichotomy with telling results. KyU proved that it is a predominantly STEM HEI by producing 100% STEM PhDs. KyU was followed by MUST at 79.5%, Makerere at 67.6%, GU at 40%, while UMI produced none.

The Dissemination Moderators Dr. Tom Balojja (R) and Ms. Ritah Namisango (L) confer during the event

With the contexts established, it was time for the participants to hear the team’s findings from their baseline study. Dr. Tom Balojja who also doubled as the day’s emcee in delivering a summary of the findings shared that doctoral education and training in Uganda had low throughput rates. Furthermore, doctoral education and training is biased in favour of males and STEM disciplines, and has its capacity concentrated in Makerere University.

He then went on to present the findings in detail, as espoused by the European Commission’s Seven Principles of Innovative Doctoral Training. These seven are; Research excellence, Attractive institutional environment, Interdisciplinary research options (cross-disciplinarity), Exposure to industry and other relevant employment sectors, International networking, Transferable skills training and Quality assurance.

The CEPIDE study recommended that;

  • Government of Uganda should integrate doctoral education and training in national development planning within the context of the policy objective of increasing the percentage of the GDP spending on Research and Development (R&D).
  • National targets should be set and resources should be committed to achieve the set targets in order to address concerns about the inadequacy of the critical mass of researchers in the country.
  • Government of Uganda should introduce a sufficient and well-structured legal framework necessary to regulate doctoral education and training. The legal framework should regulate the structure of doctoral programs and curriculum issues, support systems and staffing to improve the quality of the postgraduate training environment in HEIs in Uganda.
  • Government of Uganda and institutions offering doctoral education and training should work out mechanisms which will enable them to work with the industry and other research institutions in promoting research and innovations.
  • Institutions should transit from offering PhD by research to the taught PhD
  • The scope of doctoral education and training should be broadened to incorporate other models of the doctorate such as PhD by coursework (taught PhD), Professional doctorates, Work-based doctorates.
  • The role and funding of Doctoral Schools in Universities should be underscored to create enhanced postgraduate environment (EPE)
  • More research and interventions into doctoral education and training in Uganda.

Reacting to the presentation, the Director Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT), Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi requested the NPA to come up with a PhD training strategy for Uganda that clearly outlines the demand for PhDs particularly in the industry as well as resources to train them. He emphasized the need to preserve the quality of PhDs trained as the drive for more PhDs is impressed upon HEIs. In the same breath, the Deputy Director DRGT, Dr. Robert Wamala advocated for a mechanism to ensure productivity of PhDs as a third factor to consider in addition to quantity and quality.

ED National Planning Authority-Dr. Joseph Muvawala (R) addresses participants as Dr. Sabrina Kitaka (L) and Mr. Timothy Sejjoba (C) listen at the CEPIDE Research Dissemination.

Dr. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Deputy Principal College of Education and External Studies (CEES) in his remarks commended Mak-RIF for changing the terrain of research and innovations at Makerere University. “CEES was one of the Colleges that wasn’t attracting much funding but with the coming of Mak-RIF, we have seen a very significant increase from only two research Projects to twenty.”

He thanked NPA for accepting to conduct both virtual and physical training for staff at Makerere University who are interested in writing impactful policy briefs.

Dr. Sabrina Kitaka who represented the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) Chairperson, Prof. William Bazeyo commended the CEPIDE research team for recognizing that Makerere as a leader ought to strive to bridge the gap in doctoral training and education between itself and younger institutions. She thanked the Government of Uganda for providing funding to more than 500 Research Projects all aimed at informing national development priorities.

“The Volatility, Uncertainty Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) phenomenon created by the COVID-19 is teaching us how to be innovative by disseminating our findings both physically and online. Any innovation that results in training of scholars is not only exciting but brings closer the possibility of an education that is boundless” said Dr. Kitaka.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (R) and Deputy Principal CEES, Dr. Paul Birevu Muyinda confer during the CEPIDE dissemination

Mr. Timothy Sejjoba who represented Dr. Jane Egau, Director for Higher Technical and Vocational Education and Training – HTVET, Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in his address congratulated Makerere University upon not only securing funding under Mak-RIF but also putting it to good use. “We believe that you are going to inspire other institutions to reach the heights that they should.”

He noted that the CEPIDE study had brought very interesting findings and conclusions to the fore and that his Ministry would be very glad to continue discussing these with HEIs. On the issue of quality assurance for PhDs Mr. Sejjoba advised that HEIs ought to be self-regulating so as to guarantee the brand of their programmes and graduates in the job market.

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe congratulated the CEPIDE team upon delivering possibly the most important Mak-RIF seminar to-date, owing to its addressing of the University’s core strategic direction head-on. He equally thanked the Government of Uganda for providing; i. Funding for over 500 research and innovations through Mak-RIF, ii. Increasing the monthly salary of a Professor to UGX 15million, and iii. Funding infrastructure development for research. “We now have some of the best labs anywhere in the world and there is no reason why as a University we cannot drastically contribute to transformation of our society.”

He reiterated Makerere’s commitment to support other HEIs to build their capacity in doctoral training and teaching and commended the decision by the Higher Education Student Financing Board (HESFB) to start offering loans for postgraduate study at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Uganda.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe makes his remarks at the CEPIDE study dissemination event

The Executive Director National Planning Authority (NPA), Dr. Joseph Muvawala in his address commended the ongoing policy work between the School of Economics, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) and his authority, noting that this ought to be duplicated between other Schools and Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. He shared that increasing number of graduate students seems to be sufficient condition for Uganda to take off in terms of economic development and emphasized the importance of Makerere University implementing its new 10 year strategic plan, which he described as “good”.  

He advised the CEPIDE team and all researchers to improve their capacity to write policy briefs, noting that policy makers lack the time to read research papers in their entirety. “I am here to say that you have our full support as NPA and my colleague Dr. Mugendawala will draft a concept on how to connect graduates to industry.”

Concluding the day’s remarks, the Chief Guest Dr. Nora Mulira who represented the Executive Director NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol acknowledged that the Council as a participant in the CEPIDE study had gleaned a number of lessons to incorporate in the UNESCO instrument that feeds the state of Uganda’s Higher Education. She added that the study provided a number of options on how to advance the National PhD programme and thanked the Vice Chancellor for effectively using the funds received from Governement of Uganda.

“To the Principal Investigator, this is a pivotal study that is going to move Uganda ahead and is well aligned with strategic development framework as enshrined in NDPIII and Vision 2040, which look at research and innovation as a driver for development” commended Dr. Mulira.  

She urged the research team to formulate an output plan that stipulates the specific actions that need to be undertaken by particular stakeholders within set timelines.

Article by Public Relations Office.

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Dissemination of Pedagogical Leadership of Academic Staff in Higher Education Institutions to Enhance Graduate Work Readiness and Transition to Work (PLASHE-WIL)



The DVCAA-Dr. Umar Kakumba (3rd L) and Director Quality Assurance-Dr. Vincent Ssembatya (2nd R) pose with PLASHE-WIL Project PI-Dr. Ronald Bisaso (3rd R) and other Team members at the research dissemination on 3rd December 2020, Telepresence Centre, Senate Building, Makerere University.

By Nuwagaba John

On Thursday 3th December, 2020, a project titled Pedagogical Leadership of Academic Staff in Higher Education Institutions to Enhance Graduate Work Readiness and Transition to Work (PLASHE-WIL) held a Dissemination Event at Makerere University. The Principal Investigator (PI) of the PLASHE-WIL project is Dr. Ronald Bisaso, Associate Professor and Dean, East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development (EASHESD), College of Education and External Studies (CEES). The project team members include: Dr. Rovincer Najjuma, Co-PI and Senior Lecturer, Department of Foundations and Curriculum Studies, Dr. Florence Nakamanya, Lecturer, EASHESD, Assoc. Prof. Proscovia Namubiru Ssentamu, Uganda Management Institute (UMI), Dr. Pius C. Achanga, Director, Quality Assurance and Accreditation at the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), and Dr. Hamis Mugendawala, Head, Policy Research and Innovation, National Planning Authority (NPA).  Other expert members are: Professor Christopher B. Mugimu, Foundations and Curriculum Studies, Dr. Joseph Kimoga, Assoc. Professor, EASHESD and Dr. David Onen, Senior Lecturer, EASHESD in CEES.  The event started with a prayer led by Dr. Rovincer Najjuma. Dr. Florence Nakamanya who was the moderator welcomed members to the dissemination and gave a preamble of the PLASHE-WIL project.

The event was graced by distinguished stakeholders who attended both physically and virtually. These included; the Guest of Honour – Professor Mary J.N. Okwakol, the Executive Director, National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Dr. Umar Kakumba, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi, the Principal CEES, Dr. Vincent Ssembatya, Director, Directorate of Quality Assurance, Makerere University, Dr. Robinah Kulabako, Member of the Grants Management Committee (GMC) Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) and Dr. David Kabugo, Coordinator, Centre for Teaching and Learning Support, CEES. A range of stakeholders from the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA), the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST), the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA), NCHE, the Directorate of Human Resources (DHR), Makerere University student representatives, academic leaders and staff from different universities attended the dissemination.

Principal CEES, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi

Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi in his remarks, welcomed the stakeholders. He congratulated the team led by Dr. Ronald Bisaso for ensuring that the School is continually productive.  He noted that dissemination was a form of accountability and portrays transparency. He applauded the PLASHE-WIL Project Team for entrenching stakeholder engagement in the conception, team composition, conducting the study and the dissemination that attracted higher education experts, students, the private sector, media, student leaders, and academic staff. He informed stakeholders that CEES was committed to more such engagements in the areas of higher education, secondary education, adult education among others. He thanked the Government of Uganda through Mak-RIF for the financial support and guidance in research output reporting.

In her remarks, the Guest of Honour, Professor Mary J.N. Okwakol noted that the involvement of NCHE as a strategic partner in the implementation of the PLASHE-WIL project was anchored on the need to promote the Teaching Excellence Agenda in the Uganda Higher Education system. Realisation of such an important milestone would be through strengthening pedagogical competences of academic staff in the Higher Education sub-sector. Prof. Okwakol further observed that, the key deliverable in this project was a Pedagogical Leadership Programme for training academic staff in universities in Uganda because the Higher Education sub-sector needs pedagogical competent academic staff! The Executive Director, NCHE was equally delighted by the involvement of several partners including Makerere University, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and the National Planning Authority (NPA). She noted that, the fact that the findings of the PLASHE-WIL project were based on perspectives of students, academic staff (mainly early career academics), employers, pedagogical leadership facilitators and curriculum leaders, the partnership availedfavourable conditions for uptake of research findings and presented opportunity for policy options which has been a missing link in many innovative endeavours. Prof. Okwakol informed the stakeholders that NCHE sees great potential for creating a critical mass of professional pedagogical leaders in Uganda’s Higher Education system who are not only competent in didactics but also able to integrate graduate work readiness and transition to work skills in teaching and learning processes. She congratulated the PI – Dr. Ronald Bisaso and Team for the great job done. She challenged the team to ensure that they empower lecturers into both good teaching and research in addition to ensuring gender inclusive interventions. She thanked the Government of Uganda through Mak-RIF for funding research on a topical issue and indeed an issue of concern. She officially opened the Dissemination Event.

Dr. Ronald Bisaso, the PI in his presentation recognized the generosity of the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Mak-RIF that funded the PLASHE-WIL Project.  He gave the PLASHE-WIL Project overview by noting that there is a graduate employability skill deficiency where 63% of Uganda graduates are unemployable, according to the employers, and that the existing pre-labour market education or training is inadequate (IUCEA, 2014 p.54-55). He observed that the ‘covenant between education and employment is broken’ and the ‘lack of linkage between the training institutions and potential employers’ was articulated in the outgoing National Development Plan II (2015/16-2019/2020, p.39).

To further illuminate the challenge, the PI historicized Higher Education Pedagogy in Makerere University noting that, Pedagogical Skills training was initiated in 1979 because “university lecturers lacked teaching skills and, as a result, some of them were doing a really bad job.” (Ssebuwufu, 2017 p.478). This culminated into the establishment of the Department of Higher Education at Makerere University (now the East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development).  One of the downsides of developing pedagogical capacities of academic staff was the dependence on initiatives funded by development partners e.g. the European Union, Carnegie etc. with ramifications for sustainability. However, in July 2018, Makerere University invested her own resources in pedagogical skills training for Assistant Lecturers (Early Career Academics). This was coordinated by the Directorate of Human Resources and the College of Education and External Studies (through the East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development, the School of Education, and the Centre for Teaching and Learning Support). This was consistent with guidance of the Makerere University Visitation Committee, 2016. The PI further noted that, over 200 assistant lecturers from8 Colleges were trained in learner-centred pedagogy (Makerere University Strategic Plan 2020-2030 p.23). However, there was need to improve on the training programme by embedding Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) philosophies and pedagogy to complement the programme who focus was on the technical competences of writing learning outcomes, delivery methods, integration of technology, assessment, and teaching large classes. This culminated into the PLASHE-WIL Challenge as presented by the PI and Co-PI, Dr. Rovincer Najjuma.

PLASHE-WIL Project Challenge:

PLASHE-WIL Co PI-Dr. Rovincer Najjuma

The increasing numbers of students that graduate every year in a variety of disciplines amidst rising graduate unemployment and employability skill deficiency is both a risk and potential for the country. Embedding graduate work readiness and transition to work strategies in University curricular and pedagogy is one of the employability development strategies that can potentially address rising graduate unemployment. Owing to the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of the challenge, the East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development (EASHESD) in the College of Education and External Studies, Makerere University in partnership with the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and technical support from the National Planning Authority (NPA), sought to engage with stakeholders including; employers, students, academic staff, pedagogical leadership facilitators and programme leaders to collaboratively develop a Pedagogical Leadership Programme for academic staff to enhance graduate work readiness and transition to work. 

PLASHE-WIL Project Aim:

This project aimed to develop the capacity of academic staff in Pedagogical Leadership and Work-Integrated Learning to enhance graduate work readiness and transition to work competence development. 


The research adopted the design research methodology. Design research combines research, design, and practice. The methodology of this research and innovation project was implemented through a multi-stakeholder partnership. First, a scoping review was done. Second, a consultative stakeholders’ meeting was held to initiate engagement and dialogue on how to enhance graduate work readiness and transition to work through strengthening pedagogical leadership of academic staff in Higher Education Institutions. Third, empirical evidence was collected from 73 employers, 146 academic staff, and 548 final year students stratified in four fields of engineering, agriculture, education and development studies. Fourth, practitioner engagement in interviews and expert meetings. 

Summary of the findings:

Objective One: Employer requirements and expectations

The employers expect graduates to follow workplace principles/rules, possess work readiness skills (e.g. problem-solving, thinking critically, develop professionalism etc.). In addition, graduates are expected to have transition to work skills (e.g. identify personal skills and how they can be deployed). The employers identified Work-Integrated Learning opportunities such as exposure to relevant work setting, understanding workplace cultures as essential for graduates.

Objective Two: Graduate attributes and aspirations

Final year candidates’ degree experience had developed their pre-professional identity attributes (e.g. matching university to the workplace), work readiness attributes (e.g.  developing social responsibility and accountability like behaving in line with company values) among others.

Objective Three: Academic Staff Competence Profiling

The academic staff were confident that they teach and assess foundational knowledge (theories and principles) and work readiness skills (e.g. team work, professionalism). However, they were less confident that they taught problem-solving yet they were confident that they assessed it.

Objective Four: Pedagogical Leadership Perspectives

Most of the existing pedagogical leadership training focuses on alignment. Pedagogical leaders identified competences academic staff should possess include; team work, co-facilitation, managing industry partnership, case-based teaching philosophies (industry-based learning, scenarios, e-case studies, industry-based cases, projects).

Objective Five: Curriculum Mapping Perspectives

The key focus is on foundational knowledge. There is need for strengthened partnerships between stakeholders (cross-sector, intra-sector, alumni, professional bodies, employers and internship providers. Programme reviews and enhancements should include work readiness and transition to work skill-sets to enact graduate work readiness and transition to work. Programme reviews and enhancements should include work readiness and transition to work skill-sets.

On the basis of the multi-dimensional findings, the Key Deliverables are:

  1. A proposed Post Graduate Diploma in Higher Education Pedagogy that embeds Work-Integrated Learning has been piloted among stakeholders drawn from public and private universities and line agencies. The post graduate curriculum includes; a practicum, educational research, Work-Integrated-Learning, higher education dynamics among others.
  2. A PLASHE-WIL framework that illuminates how WIL would create a springboard between the university and other stakeholders to enhance work readiness and transition to work.
  3. PLASHE-WIL reports on pedagogical leadership and work-integrated learning

Responding to the findings of the PLASHE-WIL Project, Dr. Vincent Ssembatya was delighted that the promises made in February 2020 at the stakeholders’ inception meeting at NCHE were being met. He expressed the need for the National Planning Authority to articulate the aspirations of the country and have engagement with the PLASHE-WIL Project Team. He implored the team to think through scaling in space and disciplines whereby the interventions can as well be relevant to the other disciplines without necessarily collecting data on them. Dr. Ssembatya reflected on the imperative to produce employable graduates who are lifelong learners with capacity to disintegrate theories, renew knowledge and invent. This called for pedagogical reskilling of academic staff through a research-informed programme which was the key deliverable of the PLASHE-WIL Project.

Dr. Pius C. Achanga reflected on the possibilities for scaling-up and policy options emanating from the PLASHE-WIL Project findings and congratulated the team. He noted that the deliverables would provide an avenue where lecturers meet the students and engage in disruptive processes. He noted that whereas there has been overemphasis on basic knowledge offered by universities, it was time to reflect concretely on the returns. He made reference to the Mandate of NCHE as enshrined in the Act, section 5(h) within which NCHE agreed to work with Makerere University and others in the implementation of PLASHE-WIL Project. He implored the project team to work with other tertiary institutions to operationalize the project when there is continuation of funding. He also appreciated the contribution of the National Planning Authority.

Dr. Hamis Mugendawala informed the stakeholders that NPA took pleasure to be part of the partnership.  He noted that the project was responding to a terrain that was so scaring for the country.  This was because of the permanent divorce between education and employment where supply was not speaking to demand.  He highlighted the increasing shift in focus from qualification to skills-based employer demands. With regard to PLASHE-WIL, the need for enhancement of the competences of the academy was evident. He noted ‘if the academy does not possess the graduate work readiness and transition to work skills then they cannot deliver them to the students’ amidst the shifting demands of the labour market and industry.  Moreover, there was need to modularize the proposed pedagogical training curriculum and embrace multiple modes of flexible delivery.  He noted that the University should simulate the industry environment as it trains graduates. Dr. Mugendawala informed the stakeholders that the National Development Plan III was in agreement with some of the findings. He requested Makerere University through the DVC-AA to consider inviting industry to Makerere University to ensure that they closely innovate, incubate ideas and embark on production.  He concluded that ‘young people should be trained to work with people and to work with machines’ and that the National Planning Authority was willing to further the collaboration on the PLASHE-WIL Project.

Dr. Robinah Kulabako, Member of the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) in her speech thanked the participants for attending the dissemination event. She recognized the DVCAA, Makerere University among other dignitaries. She thanked Professor William Bazeyo for steering the GMC and informed members that she was representing him at the dissemination event.  Dr. Kulabako informed the stakeholders that Mak-RIF received 30billion and an additional 15billion to fund multidisciplinary projects from the Government of Uganda.  PLASHE-WIL was one of the 500 multidisciplinary projects funded and she was optimistic that it will surely contribute to the development of the nation and specifically the higher education sector. Dr. Kulabako thanked the Principal Investigator – Dr. Ronald Bisaso and Team for smartly identifying the problem and conceptually thinking through the solution. She urged the team to ensure that the deliverable – the PLASHE-WIL programme is fast-tracked and rolled out. Dr. Kulabako concluded by promising that Mak-RIF will collaboratively engage and leverage additional resources so that projects such as PLASHE-WIL continue to make a positive contribution to the communities we live in.  In a special way, she thanked and noted that the Government of Uganda was willing to continue funding research in Makerere University through Mak-RIF as long we deliver on the promises of innovative deliverables as we work with the respective partners.

The First Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) of Makerere University, Dr. Umar Kakumba

At the Official Closing of the Dissemination Event, Dr. Umar Kakumba, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) was grateful for the value addition by the PLASHE-WIL Project Team led by Dr. Ronald Bisaso. He noted that it was a great team. He informed the stakeholders that his involvement at the inception stakeholders’ meeting held in February 2020 at the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) was because of the innovativeness of the concept. It was on that basis that he graciously deemed it appropriate to officiate at the dissemination event. Dr. Kakumba thanked the National Council for Higher Education for the support extended to the PLASHE-WIL Project and the contribution of the National Planning Authority. He observed that the uniqueness of the PLASHE-WIL Project was the engagement with different actors and other tertiary institutions. He further noted that the deliverables were laudable observing that the starting point for a competitive graduate should be a good curriculum, delivered by competent teachers continually be capacitated through trainings like the proposed PLASHE-WIL programme.  The DVC-AA further requested the PLASHE-WIL Project Team to generate a brief to inform the review of the policy on internship/field attachment/Work-Integrated Learning.  Finally, on behalf of University Management, Dr. Kakumba thanked the Government of Uganda for all the support which has kept staff engaged in writing grants, contacting respondents and disseminating findings among other activities and in process contributing to research productivity and progressive engagement. He thanked Professor William Bazeyo for steering the Grants Management Committee (GMC) and Mak-RIF. He also thanked Dr. RobinahKulabako for her contribution to the GMC and the remarks.  He officially closed the Dissemination Event noting that this was the first phase of dissemination because he looked forward to more disseminations of the PLASHE-WIL Project deliverables.

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



WOLEP Principal Investigator-Dr. Florence Nakamanya at the Research Dissemination event for findings of factors affecting the advancement of incumbent and aspiring female leaders in Ugandan Higher Education Institutions, 5th November 2020, CTF1, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

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

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