Enhancing Behavioural Change of Boda-Boda Riders in Uganda Using Mobile Learning (EBoML) is a three-year project initially funded for one year by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF). The goal of EBoML is to professionalise the Boda-Boda industry in Uganda using Mobile Learning (mLearning) for positive behavioural change of Boda-Boda riders. The project is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Works and Transport (MoWT), Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) and Boda-Boda riders from the two pilot districts of Wakiso and Namayingo.
Speaking at the EBoML Research Dissemination Workshop held on Friday 28th May 2021, the Deputy Principal, College of Education and External Studies (CEES) and EBoML Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Paul Birevu Muyinda noted that although the Boda-Boda industry employs more than 50% of youth, it lacks order, the riders have limited or no savings and they face a myriad of health risks.
Furthermore, riders by the “nomadic” nature of their work cannot be gathered into the organised classroom settings and given one-off training on behavioural change. The solution; take learning to the beneficiaries wherever they are, provided they have a smartphone and an internet connection.
“We therefore developed a multimedia-based Positive Behavioural Change virtual mLearning Environment (PBC-mLE) for self-paced and/or assisted lifelong learning in; safe-driving principles, health-living and entrepreneurship” remarked Dr. Birevu.
The PBC-mLE was then rolled-out in the pilot districts, evaluated and the purpose of the dissemination workshop was to present findings from that exercise.
Presenting findings from the Entrepreneurship Module, Mr. Turyakira Nazarius shared that the majority of Boda-boda riders (83%) knew the importance of saving and 69% were in the habit of saving regularly, with only 5% admitting to never having saved. The majority (40%) preferred to save with the Boda-Boda scheme, while a third (33%) opted to keep their savings in a secret location at home. 14% saved with a bank, 8% saved with a trusted person and 5% used other undeclared methods.
Further analysis revealed that solving daily household demands and paying school fees at 22% each accounted for the largest expenditure of savings. These were followed by buying household assets and caring for parents at 16% each, servicing loans (7%) and other expenditures (17%).
The Boda-Boda riders were also asked to share the most important skills they would wish to acquire. At 26%, the need for skills on how to secure more capital topped the riders aspirations. This was followed by basic knowledge about the Boda-Boda business at 22%, Marketing at 19% and Customer care at 16%. Record keeping accounted for 13% of the responses while 4% aspired to learn other skills in areas such treating cattle diseases.
At the end of the entrepreneurship module, riders were expected to know; the different ways of saving, the different types of businesses, good customer care practices and how to use savings from Boda-Boda riding to start up another business.
“Being a service industry, good or bad hygiene impacts directly on the riders’ lives and those of their customers thereby having an impact on the business” remarked team member, Ms. Lillian Mbabazi from the Department of Performing Arts and Film (PAF) as she presented findings from the Health and Safe-Living Module.
Findings revealed that 66% of Boda-Boda riders acquire health information from their fellow riders or friends, 51% from healthcare providers and 50% from family or the mass media. Other riders reported that they secure information from; health outreaches, social media, school or classes, herbalists, the internet and other sources.
A number of health issues were reported to impact the lives of Boda-Boda riders. Accidental injury, hygiene and substance abuse had the highest recorded impact at 80%, 44% and 42% respectively. Additionally, intentional injury and violence accounted for 38%, unwanted pregnancy and parenting-28.7%, Sexual health-27% and obesity-11%.
Boda-Boda riders reported a number of barriers they faced in accessing healthcare. These, in order of priority included; high costs, long waiting lists, embarrassment, lack of knowledge, long distances to facilities, time constraints and language barrier among others.
Furthermore, healthy eating, emergency services and dental services at 53%, 52% and 45% respectively were reported by the riders as aspects of healthcare that lacked sufficient information. Others reported were; mental health, prolonged disease or condition management, education about physical activity, primary health care, substance abuse and treatment, and reproductive health.
Boda-Boda riders when not on the move are usually stationed at designated stages. Under personal and workplace hygiene, only 30% of riders reported that they had access to running water for handwashing. Additionally, while 83% of riders admitted to bathing three or more times a week, 6% said they bathed only once a week. On the bright side, 39% of the riders admitted to bathing twice a day.
In terms of risky sexual behaviour, whereas 65.7% of the riders reported that they had sex with one to two sexual partners in the past 12 months, 23% had engaged in sex with three or more women in the same period. On an alarming note, 57% of the riders reported that they did not use a condom in the past six months prior to the survey.
Engaging with multiple sexual partners is a high-risk sexual behavior especially in the absence of condom use. The researchers therefore sought to find out the number of women impregnated by the riders in the last twelve months. Whereas the majority (53%) reported that they hadn’t impregnated any women in the period, 36% had impregnated one, 6% two, 4% three and 1% four or more.
Further examination of the relationship between riders and the women revealed that whereas 35% had impregnated their wives and 5% their girlfriends, disturbingly, 1% had impregnated a student and another 1% a stranger. 4% admitted to impregnating a girl/woman who was neither a wife, nor a girlfriend, nor a student, nor a stranger. The majority (54%) opted not to state their relationship with the woman they impregnated.
Transactional sex between Boda-Boda riders and clients who fail to pay cash for their trips has often been talked about but with no figures of its extent. Findings from the EBoML team revealed that whereas 88% of Boda-Boda riders reported that they do not engage in transactional sex, 12% admitted to engaging in the practice.
Away from the health and safe-living, the third and final module on Safe-Driving revealed that 63% of Boda-Boda riders sampled had less than five years of riding experience. Nevertheless, 12% admitted to having more than ten years of riding experience and the rest (25%) had six to ten years of experience.
Adulthood is a regulatory requirement for operation of motor vehicles because maturity is considered a critical factor for decision making. The project therefore sought to ascertain at what age the riders first operated a motorcycle. Whereas the majority of riders (84.6%) said that they were 18 years and above at the point of first riding, 6.8% admitted to have started riding while still below 18 years of age. 8.6% of respondents said they were more than 30 years of age at their first riding attempt.
A driving permit is a legal requirement for every Boda-Boda rider. That notwithstanding, only 13% of respondents were in possession of a driving permit, with the majority (87%) having never acquired one. A further analysis of the reasons as to why riders didn’t possess permits revealed the expense involved as the biggest deterrent at 75%. Others reasons cited were; ability to freely ride without a permit (34%), ignorance of permit acquisition procedures (43%) and no time to process the permit (10%). Despite not possessing driving permits, 90% of Boda-Boda riders claimed to know the rules governing the road usage.
The pilot also sought to determine the leading causes of Boda-Boda accidents. Crossing animals at 43.5% were cited as the leading cause, followed by over speeding and other motorists/Boda-Boda riders at 41.5% and 30.5% respectively. Other causes cited included; poor mechanical condition of motorcycles, struggling for passengers with peers, overloading, excitement during celebrations, drink driving and other causes at 21.5%, 16%, 15.5%, 11%, 8.5% and 6.5% respectively.
In terms of training needs under this module, the majority (66%) of riders required training in basic mechanics to help reduce their expenses at the garage. Additionally, 65% required training in road safety while 4% preferred training in both defensive driving and understanding road signs.
The dissemination workshop would have been incomplete without feedback from the project beneficiaries. Speaking on behalf of the Boda-Boda riders, Mr. Ayebazibwe Rogers and Mr. Alibe Jonathan both based in Wakiso District thanked the EBoML team for according them the opportunity to access lifelong learning without interrupting their work schedules. The riders highlighted some of the valuable lessons learnt in each module as;
Under the Entrepreneurship Module:
- How best to start up a small scale business alongside the Boda-Boda job
- Importance of saving money even the least earnings and why one should save
- Customer care
- How to deal with losses
- Book keeping
- Good work ethics and appreciating the value of work
Under the Safe-Driving Module:
- Importance of the wearing helmets and protective gear
- Defensive driving
- Simple mechanics
- Importance of road signs and colour codes
- Smartness and presentability
- Road use in consideration of other road users
Under the Health and Safe-Living Module:
- How to avoid use of drugs and narcotics
- How to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Healthy dieting
- Good personal hygiene
- A health body is the primary tool of work
- A healthy rider attracts more customers
The riders’ representatives nevertheless asked that the learning materials be adapted into simpler English and make use videos/illustrations that are relevant to the Ugandan setting.
In her remarks, Ms. Nazziwa Sharifah who represented the Permanent Secretary (PS), MoGLSD expressed her Ministry’s gratefulness at being part of the project. She said the Ministry under its Department of Occupational Safety and Health inspects workplaces for safety standards and investigates accidents, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences. She noted that though informal, the Boda-Boda industry, was an asset to the National workforce.
“I therefore encourage Boda-Boda riders as assets in our workforce to always ensure that they wear their helmets and maintain good personal hygiene and health practices” she said.
Ms. Nazziwa reassured participants of of her Ministry’s readiness to protect the rights and safety of all workers, the majority of whom are youth. She equally recommended that since the majority of the Boda-Boda riders were either illiterate or semi-literate, the EBoML project should translate learning materials into local languages so as to reach more beneficiaries.
The MoGLSD representative also shared that the Green Jobs and Fair Labour Market Programme under her Ministry is tasked with, among other objectives, providing support to youth and women in form of affordable credit and grants at both individual and group levels. She therefore urged the Boda-Boda riders to always value their group schemes.
Representing the PS, MoWT, Mr. Bageya Waiswa, the Senior Road Safety Officer in the same ministry, Mr. Katunguka James commended CEES for the EBoML innovation that is going to tremendously address behavioural change among Boda-Boda riders and improve road safety. Pointing to the over 3,500 lives lost per year due to road traffic accidents, the PS said there was need for a multi-sectoral approach to influence the behaviour of road users in order for Uganda to achieve the 50% reduction in road traffic fatalities target by 2030.
“Riding competence and discipline is a key foundation for road safety that demonstrates the rider’s abilities to use the road without endangering his/her life or other road users” he explained.
He added that findings by the EBoML project findings would go a long way in helping Government to develop scientifically proven evidence-based interventions aimed at improving behavioural change of Boda-Boda riders in Uganda.
Mr. Bageya in his speech read verbatim by Mr. Katunguka equally pledged his Ministry’s support and continued partnership with CEES and promised that MoWT would spearhead the implementation of project findings.
He challenged every participant to play to play their part in sustainable road safety enhancement, concluding that “Road safety begins with you, with me and road safety is a shared responsibility.”
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Police approves new compulsory soft skills training course
The Uganda Police Force (UPF) in partnership with Makerere University have approved a new training course intended to impart soft skills in police trainees.
The program dubbed “Promoting community policing by integrating soft skills in Uganda Police training” funded by the Government of Uganda through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) is expected to be rolled out in 2025 and it will be part and parcel of the police training course.
SCP Anne Tusiime, the Deputy Director Human Resource Development, embraced the program and pledged support for the course.
“I believe with this project that is ongoing, we are heading to making the force better,” she noted
This idea was conceived in 2020 by Dr Badru Musisi, a senior lecturer at the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) and the Principal Investigator (PI) following the public’s outcry that police is brutalising people and the general feeling that police is anti-people.
SCP Tusiime revealed that they are facing challenges arising from lack of soft skills and those having the skills lack the tactics to use those skills.
“While we have put in much effort, we still have some challenges, especially from lacking skills or having skills and we don’t use them the way they are supposed to be used. And picking from our name, some of the skills are typically hard skills not soft ones. And so we end up losing out some bits,” She added after approving the course during the workshop which was held at the Police headquarters in Naguru, Kampala on November.
She asked the team of the principal investigators to design a way how skills that may look to be hard, can be simplified and made a little bit softer.
“Let’s hold our hands to see that we pull it through. The pledge on behalf of the force is that we are committed to human resource development. We pray that this project will give us a serious backup in whatever we are doing,” SCP Tusiime emphasised
SCP Fred Enanga, the Police Spokesperson told the team of researchers that when passing out officers, they are trained in soft skills because in exercising their duties, they use negotiations but the practice has not been direct as this course is intending to do.
Dr Musisi revealed that the three-year project has finally started to bear fruits after soft skills taxonomy was approved by the top officers.
“We are going to use the soft skill taxonomy to develop a transformative framework for embedding soft skills in police training programs,” he noted.
On this move, researchers believe that when they secure the balance between the hard and soft skill policing, community policing will ultimately be promoted saying, “We expect to have police officers that build a cordial relationship between the force and the community.”
After developing the transformative framework, Dr Musisi noted that they are going to train the instructors of all police training schools and colleges in the country how to use that framework to embed soft skills in their routine training programs.
“The soft skills taxonomy is going to give us a foundation of which soft skills are going to be embedded. And our next step is to develop the transformative framework for embedding soft skills that will be tested, refined, passed and thereafter in the third year, we shall be rolling it out,” he revealed.
Ms Evelyne Baelvina Nyachwo, the Research Support Officer from Mak-RIF who represented Prof Fred Masagazi Masagazi revealed that the Makerere University Research and Innovations fund (Mak-RIF), funded by the government of Uganda and started in 2019 to support research to provide solutions through innovations to the current challenges Ugandans face.
“We receive money to support research and so we give this money to Makerere lecturers so that they can be able to develop ideas which are majorly tailored to solving our local problems. We identify what is disturbing us and then through research, we come up with the solutions and innovations to solve these problems.” she said
She noted that this project was very timely owing to the issues coming up between the community and the police. “There is limited trust and yet police are supposed to be an arm that protects the community. We want to ensure that our officers have extra soft skills added to them to ensure that they can serve the nation but also become better people and provide better service,” she added.
Student teachers join hands to make a difference in the environment
On Thursday, November 9, 2023, students of the College of Education and External Studies (CEES), mobilized by the college chairperson, Mr Ssebina Solomon, united in a display of environmental conservation as they gathered to pick litter around the Makerere University premises under the theme “The teacher’s walk against littering in Makerere University.”
The main goal of the event was to rebrand the teaching profession and reawaken teachers as agents of social change. The teacher’s walk also emphasized the critical role of teachers in shaping morals, values, and character, of their learners and those around them. ” Teaching is a noble profession that shapes generations to come, yet often faces challenges and misconceptions,” Mr Ssebina said.
To counter these stereotypes and create a positive image, the teacher trainees at Makerere University decided to come together in an activity that would not only benefit the environment but also highlight their dedication to their chosen profession.
Littering being a common and widespread problem throughout the country that not only affects the aesthetic appeal of the environment but also poses serious health concerns, calls for intervention countrywide. The CEES Community took initiative to ensure a litter free Uganda starting with their very own campus grounds.
The event kicked off at around 9:00am and was officiated by Dr. Muhammad Kiggundu, The Head Department of Languages. The students started by cleaning their very own college grounds and moved to Mary Stuart hall picking up any litter found along the streets. The trek continued to the western gate, CEDAT, CONAS , CHUSS and ended at the Complex hall. Here the students sang the national anthem, the Makerere University anthem and Buganda Anthem which depicted the nationalistic and patriotic spirit embedded in the teacher solidarity.
Mr Bakulumapagi Ibrahim, one of the event organisers noted, “Today was a testament to the strength of community spirit. We achieved a lot in just a few hours, and this is just the beginning of our efforts.” The students came back to CEES where they were welcomed back and given lots of logistics to share.
The success of this cleaning picking event has inspired hope for future initiatives aimed at preserving the environment and fostering a strong sense of community responsibility. It showcased the power of collective action and community spirit in addressing environmental challenges. It was a reminder that small steps, when taken together, can lead to a cleaner, more sustainable future.
In summary, the litter picking event carried out by teacher trainees from Makerere University was not just about cleaning up the campus; it was a bold statement to the world. It demonstrated that the teaching profession is not confined to the four walls of a classroom but extends to the community and beyond. By taking the initiative to reshape public perceptions of teaching, these future educators are exemplifying the qualities that make teaching a profession of pride and purpose. They are proving that a teacher’s influence is not limited to textbooks but extends to the hearts and minds of their students and society at large.
Youth & Innovation Expo to nurture financially stable teachers
The Makerere University Youth and Innovation Expo 2023 that kicked-off on Friday, October 06 with the grand opening ceremony presided over by key persons in the country ended on Saturday, October 07, with student innovators exposed to the market and ushered into how they can commercialize their products.
The two-day event attracted student- innovators from all walks of life exhibiting their products for the world to give them a go ahead after obtaining trademarks.
Prof. Anthony Muwagga Mugagga the Principal College of Education and External Studies (CEES) said they are intending to implement the competence based curriculum in the lower and upper secondary.
“The innovation of teacher trainees is a show of our support to government in implementing this curriculum. Students have manufactured shoe polish, soap, medicine, and snacks among others. These things are going to be replicated by the school children when they go back to the field,” he said.
He lauded the sponsors including the University, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), MTN and others for coming up to sponsor the expo.
“We don’t expect poor teachers who beg all the time. We expect teachers who make their own money. And even some are going to be self-employed. The students learn the usefulness of being innovative and how to market themselves. This is like teaching practice; we are monitoring what they are doing.” Prof Mugagga added.
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor noted that this is the first ever youth expo in the history of Uganda and showed hope of how this initiative shall breed youngsters helping government to create job opportunities for the poor Ugandans.
“We are all aware Uganda is a youthful country, majority of the people are youth and we must tap into their energies to move this country forward positively. Makerere University has resolved to be a leader in research and innovations because we realize we must empower these youths to create jobs for themselves and other people who are disadvantaged,” he remarked on Friday.
He said that with youths identifying the problems and going ahead to provide solutions to these problems in their societies through innovations, it will be a supplement to investors and there is hope many people will move out poverty.
He revealed that they are planning to establish an innovation hub that will provide support to these young innovators to have their dreams come true.
“UNDP is supporting us to come up with an innovation hub, the first of its kind I believe in East Africa and our youth will have the opportunity to come here and develop their ideas and move out of these gates with companies in their pockets to go out and create jobs for all the Ugandans.” He revealed before saying “we have already created the first university-wide innovation hub and young people with their good ideas will come to learn how to keep money, how to improve the products that they have come up with, and to improve the processes.”
The VC called upon all innovators to come and get support from professors to help them until they go out to commercialize whatever they have through their companies.
Patience Afoyorwoth, a student at CEES who came up with a cough syrup said her medicine is 98 percent effective.
“We used mango leaves, guava leaves, ginger, bottle brush and honey. The honey works as a preservative and it also makes it sweet. And it is also an antibiotic itself,” she noted.
She started with 30 bottles of the cough syrup and plans to make more in the future with each bottle sold at Shs2500.
While opening the expo, Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker pledged government support to innovation and lauded Makerere for transforming from training job seekers to job creators.
“I am really excited to see the transition that Makerere is going through,” he said.
He asked other universities to emulate Makerere and revealed how innovation is widening the tax gap of the government as there is more tax payers who are going to emerge out of the institution.
“Makerere you are the leader in youth innovation, let other institutions follow this. Be creative and look at creative funding. Now let us look at commercializing the innovations. Write proposals and we as government, we shall give you money since you are doing a good job,” he pledged.
He promised full support of the young innovators saying: “As government, we are looking at how we can support local innovators, we are going to update the copyright law so as your innovations are well protected under the law such that no one benefits from them.”
Mrs Lorna Magara, the Chairperson of the University Council said Makerere is transforming from a second-Generation University to a third generation University.
“We are fully cognizant of our exploding youth population and the challenges that this poses so their creativity and numbers have to be put to productive use,” she said.
It is our hope that the Youth and Innovation Expo will serve as an annual rallying point to foster entrepreneurship through the provision of master classes, inspirational lectures, access to financing, market opportunities through product launches and game-changing technology tools,” she stressed.
Third generation universities are known to enhance competitiveness of enterprises. And the enhancement is born out of proficiency in the utilization of knowledge, and deeper connection between industry and universities.
Ronald Kiyimba, a student of Distance Education and an innovator from the Knowledge Rethink Bureau Uganda (KRBU) exhibited the mental health knowhow game, an innovation that helps boost mental abilities.
He said the game will help to realize the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number three that deals with mental capacities.
“The game has come embracing knowledgeability and reasonability. There are so many people internationally who do not play any game. They are watchers, they are supporters so we are transforming the greatest majorities who do not play to become active players as the UN wants.” He explained.
The mental health knowhow game has sessions including the vocabulary development. The component ensures that every learner or participant generates 10,000 vocabularies without cramming and copying.
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