Education is a basic human right and forms a foundation upon which global and national sustainable development thrives. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, education like many other sectors was profoundly affected. The target of the Sustainable Development Goal 4
which clearly stipulates that all girls and boys should attain and complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030 is in total jeopardy. It is also likely that whatever the efforts, “education will never be or mean the same again”, since the closure of schools and institutions of learning for close to two years. Lessons learned from the pandemic will either propel the quality of education to higher horizons, or it if its implications are not carefully analyzed and proper solutions provided, then the world might fail to realize the pre-pandemic education standards. COVID-19 has affected learners’ psychosocial stability due to a number of challenges children are currently facing at home. We have heard in the social and mainstream media about children as young as 12 years getting pregnant, boys being sodomized by close relatives, children asking as to whether they will join their pre-pandemic classes or jump a class. All these challenges are and more are likely to result in loss of interest in learning; which is likely to escalate the drop-out rates when schools open. No one yet knows how many of the estimated 500,617 teachers in both government and private schools will return to class in what form – although independent studies in other countries like United States already estimate between 27 – 30% teacher drop-out.
Makerere University School of Education and the Ministry of Education and Sports organized a two day (November 24th – 25th, 2021) National Stakeholders Symposium on COVID-19 and Education at the Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala. The main goal of the symposium was to provide a platform for stakeholders in Education to analyze and discuss issues pertaining to COVID-19. To achieve this, pre-symposium activities such as setting up of the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) were put in place. Technical Working Groups (TWGs) based on identified themes met to analyze and discuss key issues and innovations, spell out approaches that would work during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, list key recommendations and identify subsequent actors who were to implement the recommendations. The Theme of the symposium was “Getting back a right to quality education during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The resultant outcome of the symposium is the formulation of a National Participatory Consolidated Plan of Action on COVID-19 and Education. The symposium was graced by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni. It was addressed by Ms. Ketty Lamaro, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and SPorts; H.E. Ambassador Kevin Colgan, Head of Mission – Embassy of Ireland; Chair, University Council, Makerere University; and the Vice Chancellor, Makerere University.
Please see below for the full Magazine
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.
General2 weeks ago
Dates for 74th Graduation Ceremony
General2 weeks ago
The 19th RUFORUM AGM in Yaoundé calls for consolidated efforts towards transforming higher agricultural & tertiary education to contribute to sustainable development & food security in Africa
Education2 weeks ago
Police approves new compulsory soft skills training course
Agriculture & Environment1 week ago
RUFORUM 19th AGM Urges Africa to Take the Lead on Climate Action
General2 weeks ago
2nd Issue of Mak-Research & Innovations Fund Bulletin