With support from the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), academics from the School of Psychology in 2020 set out to investigate and provide solutions to various national development challenges. Through different projects, the researchers sought to, among other issues, establish and address the psychological impact of the public health measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, the factors undermining adherence to the measures, and the COVID-19 related mental health challenges in refugee settlements. The researchers also investigated factors fueling drug abuse in schools and the causes of unemployment among the youth and refugees in the country. On 1st-2nd February 2021, the researcher disseminated their findings to the Makerere University community and general public, making strong recommendations to avert the challenges. The joint dissemination seminars were graced by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.
Research projects and recommendations for addressing the challenges
Under a project titled; Children’s Tales: the Reality of COVID-19 related trauma on school children in rural Busoga, a team of researchers led by Dr. Richard Balikoowa investigated the linkage between the COVID-19 preventive measures and the increasing trauma amongst school children in three representative districts of Busoga sub-region. Using child-friendly qualitative methods like drawing, story circles and focus group conversations, the researchers assessed over 418 children’s perception of the public health measures and their understanding of public information about COVID-19.
Disseminating the research findings at Makerere University on 1st February 2021, Dr. Balikoowa informed participants that all sampled children decried the COVID-19 preventive measures. He explained that the uncertainty (lack of clear information) on when the schools and worship centres would open, the feeding challenges, and the different forms of violence exacerbated by the preventive measures increased trauma amongst the children. In their report, the researchers indicated that whereas 3.11% and 22.73% children reported little or no signs of trauma, 46.17% and 27.99% reported moderate and severe signs of trauma. The study however revealed that there were other underlying factors that traumatized the children, noting that COVID-19 only contributed 2.7%.
In a bid to address trauma amongst the children, the researchers called for better packaging and dissemination of information on the pandemic to ensure it reaches all children including those in rural areas. “Children have been largely neglected in all communications regarding COVID-19. There is urgent need for child-tailored messages to avoid uncertainties that may increase trauma amongst the children,” the researchers explained. They called for continued sensitization and counseling of children in a bid to avert serious psychological effects like peritraumatic and pre-traumatic stress disorders, as well as pathological aggression that may result into intergenerational and multigenerational trauma challenges.
In a study titled; “Wandering the COVID-19 Corridors: Examining the Social Distancing Prevention Measure among the Restless Youth in Uganda”, the researchers namely; Dr Florence Nansubuga (Principal Investigator), Dr Khamisi Musanje and Dr Martin Baluku sought to establish the factors undermining adherence to the social distancing measure amongst the youth. The study conducted in Kampala and Wakiso districts revealed that the attitude of the youth towards the pandemic was one of the major causes of complacency. Presenting the findings of their study, Dr Nasubuga noted that whereas 94% of the youth had sufficient knowledge about the pandemic, the majority were adamant to practice the preventive measures. “Many of the youth believed they were not susceptible to the virus –that it was a disease of old people and the whites. Others thought the disease had been turned political to fulfill the interests of those in power,” she explained. Besides attitude, the researchers observed that there were several cultural factors (habitual routines) affecting the implementation of social distancing. “In many of our cultures embracing is viewed as a sign of affection. Social distancing has therefore been perceived as a barrier not a benefit,” she noted.
The researchers observed that the health belief model on which the social distancing measure is premised disregards social norms that govern human choices and habitual routines. In the event of COVID-19, the researchers recommend the use of the social practice model, particularly the component of community of practice in the efforts to transform health seeking behaviors amongst the youth. The researchers call for community engagement in addressing the challenges.
2,134 Students Graduate from CHUSS with a Record 22 PhDs
By Hasifa Kabejja
Friday, 21st May 2021 marked the end of the five-day 71st graduation ceremony of Makerere University with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) presenting a total of 2,136 students for the award of degrees and diplomas in various disciplines. Of the 2,136 students, 1,338 were female and 798 male.
A total of 22 students graduated with PhDs. These included; Mr. Aleu Garang Aleu, Ms. Alidri Agatha, Ms. Ddungu Mugabi Rachael, Ms. Kaije Doris, Mr. Kakuru Robert, Mr Kannamwangi Kyanda Deogratius, Ms. Linda Lillian, Mr. Muhajubu Abudul, Mr. Okello Francis, Mr. Okeny Charles Kinyera, Mr. Sekito Zaid and Ms. Uwineza Mimi Harriet from the School of Liberal and Performing Arts; Mr. Atuhairwe Amos and Mr. Wandera Samuel from the School of Languages, Literature and Communication; Ms. Rita Nakanjako, Ms. Atukunda Gertrude, Mr. Jerome Ntege and Ms. Nanfuka Esther Kalule from the School of Social Sciences; Ms. Nyangoma Anicent and Ms. Akello Judith Abal from the School of Women and Gender Studies; and Mr. Ngabirano Evarist and Mr. Ngendo David Tshimba from Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR). According to the Principal of CHUSS, Dr Josephine Ahikire, the high number of PhD graduates this time round, is attributed to cohort PhD training largely supported by Gerda Henkel Stiftung in Germany and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York. The success is also attributed to a dedicated team of academic supervisors at the College.
A total of 200 students graduated with Masters Degrees, 1,912 with Bachelor’s Degrees and 6 with a Post Graduate Diploma in Gender and Local Economic Development. Out of the 1,912 Bachelors Degree graduates, 41 attained First Class Honours Degree. Overall, 12,550 students graduated from the 10 constituent colleges of the University with a record 108 PhDs.
Call For Applications: Mak-BSSR Training Support
The Makerere University-Behavioral and Social Science Research (BSSR) in HIV Training Program, is a five year project, funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institutes of Health on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Fogarty International Center (FIC). The major goal is to strengthen Behavioral Social Science scientific leadership and expertise in HIV research at Makerere University in order to address the evolving challenges in HIV care and prevention in Uganda.
The Program is soliciting applications for research training positions in the following categories;
- Masters training in the fields of; Health Services Research, Public Health Sociology/Anthropology, Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry.
- Long-term BSSR Fellowship
Application letters should be accompanied by a detailed Curriculum Vitae, copies of academic credentials, recommendation letters from two professional references or mentors in the same area of research, Personal Development Plan (Fellowship only), proof of admission at Makerere University (Master’s) and a concept/ proposal of your proposed BSS HIV research project. The letters should be addressed to the Training Coordinator, Mak-BSSR Project and sent to: bssr.chs[at]mak.ac.ug.
Submit Applications before: 16th July 2021
Only shortlisted candidates will be conducted.
Please see Downloads for details.
Taking Mak Research to Communities Using Famous VJs – Bukedde TV
Following successful airings on Saturday 13th March, 2021 for Western Uganda audiences on TV West and Saturday 1st May, 2021 for Northern Uganda audiences on Wan Luo TV, this week the campaign to create public awareness of Makerere University’s research will focus on Central Uganda.
Held under the theme “Communicating Science”, the campaign is part of a project by the Department of Journalism and Communication, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) funded by the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF).
The project titled: Using Video Jockeys (VJs) To Promote Public Engagement and Awareness of Makerere University Science will shine a spotlight on some of the innovations from various colleges using at least five languages (Acholi, Ateso, Luganda, Lugbara and Runyankore).
“I am happy to share that the 22-minute documentary titled: THE SCIENCE OF MAKERERE UNIVERSITY – PART 1: POLLUTION, will air this week on Thursday 6th May, 2021 between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm on Bukedde (1) TV Station in Luganda,” explained the Project Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Brian Semujju.
In addition to TV stations, the campaign will extend to makeshift video halls, local video libraries, a YouTube channel, and social network sites.
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