Even in the turbulent periods when most of us were home trying to hide away from Covid 19, Makerere University researchers at the Department of Humanities and Language Education of the College of Education and External studies (CEES) were busy patrolling communities to further understand what Ugandans think of current learning and teaching methods and how effectively they can be harnessed.
All this was unveiled on 21st January, 2022 during the 4th edition of the college seminar series themed Educational research during a national lockdown, Experiences and possibilities in the field. Seminar series is a Makerere University platform where both students and researchers meet to share and brainstorm on findings from projects and research they have completed.
Dr. Rebecca Nambi a senior Lecturer and researcher at the College of Education and External studies (CEES) opened the engagement reminding the audience how the Education fraternity is at crisis due to the Covid 19 pandemic and reinstated how worse it is for researchers, urged them not to bow down as it is a mandate they have to take upon if they are to continue educating and positively impacting this our nation.
Dr. Rovincer Najjuma the moderator of the discussion invited Dr. Marjorie Sarah Kabuye Batiibwe a research don and mathematics Lecturer at the Department of Mathematics and Basic Sciences on the panel to discuss how she successfully conducted four research projects in the middle of a country lockdown.
Dr. Kabuye with 11 years in research was able to collect data on a theme named ‘Integrated women in mathematical sciences in Uganda’ that was funded by the world academy of science where she looked at empowering Ugandan girls on picking interest in mathematics at a young age to scrap away a mindset that it is such a ‘difficult’ subject. Secondly, she worked on a research project themed ‘Future training and Job market training in secondary schools’ where she looked at avenues from the people’s perspective through which we can prepare secondary school students for the Job market economy.
Increasing the number of girls offering mathematics and basic sciences in East Africa was another project Dr. Kabuye worked on basing on the fact that a few girls pick interest in such subjects. “We wanted to address the girls’ attitude and approach towards mathematics,” added Dr. Kabuye. The fourth project was about transformation of teaching and learning using emerging technologies in Makerere University.
“Covid 19 has affected the way researchers and educationists understand, conduct and disseminate research but we still remain relevant and in a spotlight as everyone is looking on us to revamp the education sector that has been tested for the last 2 years, the domains of learning, emotions, health and life style should be at center stage in bringing back minds of our students to classes since they spend most of the time with us at schools,” Dr. Kabuye advised.
“Mentorship and psychosocial support are a mandate to every person they call a teacher. We should be able to signal to other sectors of challenges in post lockdown education.”
The pandemic has impacted educational research learning styles, pedagogy, curriculum and policy.
Challenges still remain in the recruitment of participants, increment in cost of doing research, delayed completion of projects, management of participatory data collection methods and minimizing ethics including consent, qualitative data collection, privacy and confidentiality.
However,embracing digital technology and greater free access to scholarly works are opportunities that cannot go unappreciated. Possibilities from research under lockdown include capacity building on online support and technological tools for researchers.
Dr. Kabuye ended her remarks showing a need for design of remote packages has to be adopted as it has been done to urban would-be samples to ensure inclusivity in research as one of the objectives and goals of research projects.
The Head of Department Humanities and Language education Dr. Muhammad Kiggudu Musoke thanked researchers and educationists at the college for honoring the seminar series program, the commitment and resilience they showed even during the Covid 19 lockdown as they embark at transformation through building for the future.
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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