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RUFORUM Triennial Thought Pieces: ISSUE 04 – Prof. Kay Leresche

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Trends and Innovation Impacting Capacity to Deliver on the African Agenda 2063

Africa is a continent of great promise – with a combined GDP of around $3.5 trillion, the youngest and fastest-growing population in the world, and a diverse and extensive natural resource base. To realise this potential there needs to be significant investment in education, research and information sharing. Africa must be able to use new technology to create the knowledge, products and institutions to improve livelihoods. Although the technologies will allow Africa to leapfrog many old systems, they also require proactive and ongoing adaptation. Institutions and systems that cannot adapt will wither. The more structured for change the more likely it is that universities will be able to use the technological revolution to address the key drivers of change that impact progress.

Climate change with its increased droughts, floods and locust invasions, the Covid-19 pandemic, HIV, malaria and other devastating diseases, and the dislocation of poor governance and war, compound these challenges. But the natural exuberance of Africa and their determination to keep striving in the face of all obstacles will see them succeed. To do this they need the tools. Low levels of research and human resource capacity create a bottleneck to Africa reasserting its role in the global economy. Universities in Africa need to change rapidly. They need to recognise the new opportunities and prepare students that are innovative, ethical and adaptable to drive our colleges and schools, build businesses, create new knowledge and serve Africa. They house most of the highly qualified people in Africa and are often neutral spaces where transparent engagement is possible. Universities need to join with society (private sector, farmers, entrepreneurs, civil society and government agencies) to generate new, locally relevant, knowledge that is embedded in ways that facilitate rapid uptake. Universities need to take up their role as a fulcrum upon which Africa makes the rapid strides it needs to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and meet the aspirations of Agenda 2063.

While the impending change holds great promise, the patterns of consumption, production and employment created by it also pose major challenges requiring proactive adaptation by corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. Concurrent to the technological revolution are a set of broader socio-economic, geopolitical, demographic and environmental drivers of change, each interacting in multiple directions and intensifying one another (Brookings, 2020).

The Challenges for Africa

“Despite the continent’s promise obstacles to success linger as job creation still has not caught up with the growing youth labor force, gaps in good and inclusive governance remain, and climate change as well as state fragility, threaten to reverse the hard-fought-for gains of recent decades” Brahima S. Coulibaly (Brookings 2020). This was before the Covid pandemic which has since caused global devastation to lives, health and economies, especially in Africa. The disruptions continue to be felt with pressure on health facilities, loss of learning time and the economic stress of lockdowns with disrupted markets, international transport problems, decreased demand and the severe disruptions to tourism and remittances.

A challenge throughout Africa is the misalignment of job creation and demographic trends. Export-led manufacturing has not been a key feature of transformation in Africa’s economies and that which exists tends not to be labour intensive. The future is focused on services to absorb the youth and workers moving out of agriculture. This reflects the natural resources, history and geography of the continent and the global marketplace. Governments can play a major role in changing this misalignment; not necessarily directly, but by educating and training, improving the infrastructure, facilitating engagement and providing an enabling environment to enhance a strong knowledge economy. Technological progress is critical to providing mechanisms to improve productivity and livelihoods. Poor infrastructure both physical and digital is a significant constraint on development in Africa. It reduces the flow of information, people, services and goods. Improving information access facilitates improved production, allows for bulking and lower market transaction costs, and enables small farmers to generate economies of scale. New technology can help to overcome some of the aggregation challenges of the past. It can assist to overcome many of the barriers to entry and improve efficiency.

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Uganda’s policymakers implored to address forest loss, plastic & water pollution

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The Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe on Thursday 22nd September, 2022 participated in the opening of the EfD Annual meeting hosted by Makerere University at Speke Resort Munyonyo where he appealed to government to implement the ban on kaveera and address other environmental issues.

The opening ceremony moderated by the EfD Global Hub Manager Gunnar Köhlin and was graced by Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment represented by the Commissioner for Water, Mr. Julius Mafumbo and the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Maria Håkansson.

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Prof. Nawangwe urges Makerere University community to support the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative

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By Bernard Buteera

Makerere University has launched a two million dollar E-learning Project, dubbed The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative.  

The launch was held on Tuesday 20th September 2022 at Makerere University, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium. It attracted over 200 participants, who included members of University Management, College Principals, School Deans, Academic and Administrative staff, students and the general university community.

While addressing the gathering, the Chief Guest, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), congratulated Makerere University for winning such a huge grant, which will go a long way in transforming the eLearning infrastructure at Makerere University.

“I am happy to be joining you in launching a project that is at the heart of National Council for Higher Education. Online learning is at the heart of the Council, not only because of the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the world is now a digital world.” Prof. Okwakol remarked.

Prof. Okwakol thanked Mastercard Foundation and other development partners who have continued to support initiatives that help transform higher institutions of learning in Uganda.

“I sincerely thank the Mastercard Foundation and other partners who have continued to support higher education in Uganda, especially in the area of research and online learning. Globally, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly disrupted education systems forcing learners and some schools to shift to virtual learning to curb the spread of the pandemic.” Prof. Okwakol pointed out.

On his part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe urged the university community, especially the academic staff to take advantage of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning initiative to develop e-content across all Colleges of the University, to enhance capacity for eLearning at Makerere University.

[L -R] Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative and Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

”I appeal to the Colleges to embrace this project and have as many courses adopt this pedagogy development system, even though students will continue with face-to face and phyisical learning, they should be allowed the option of online learning. The platforms that are going to be built, will give our students an opportunity to interact with international students, scholars, teachers and with each other.” Prof. Nawangwe applealed.

The Vice Chancellor, further called upon all other development partners to emulate Mastercard Foundation in supporting Makerere University and other universities on the entire African continent in strengthening digital literacy, so that Africa is not left behind.

”In 2018 I attended a conference on E-learning in Beijing China, where a critical question was asked; Will Africa be left behind again? This was in reference to many advancements that were taking place in the western world, in which Africa had been left behind.” The Vice Chancellor reminded the audience.

Prof. Nawangwe further emphaised the importance of e-learning as one of the critical modes of teaching and learning in the 21st first century.   

”Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot over emphasise the importance we attach to e-learning the 21st Century, that is why we took a decision to elevate the Department of Open and Distance Learning into an Institute of Open and Distance E-learning with an intention of having e-learning extended to other Colleges of the university.” Prof. Nawangwe pointed out.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, and Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, rallied the University community to support the implementation of the project in the University.

“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative could not have come in at a better time than post COVID19 era. A pandemic, which exposed our systems and methods of teaching and learning. You all recall, when were hit by the pandemic, with lockdowns and closures of institutions of learning, we all went into a panicky mode on how were going to cope with online learning. I therefore call upon every member of the university to give this project the support it deserves.

Prof. Kakumba reminded the audience the importance and relevancy of online learning at Makerere University and other universities in Uganda.

“The online method of learning is best suited for everyone. This digital revolution has led to remarkable changes in how the content is accessed, consumed, discussed, and shared. Office goers and stay home mothers can take up online educational courses too, at the time that suits them. Depending on their availability and comfort, many people choose to learn at weekends or evenings.” Prof. Kakumba remarked.

Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative, informed the audience the importance of the project and the expected outcomes for the University.

One of the Champions of e-learning trained by Arizona State University, Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda receiving a certificate from Chief Guest.

“The Mastercard Foundation e- Learning Initiative is a Project funded by Mastercard Foundation aimed at addressing the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic that constrained access and continuity of teaching, learning, research and community engagement activities at Makerere University” Prof. Muyinda pointed out.

Prof. Muyinda further thanked the team that he worked with in putting up the proposal in a very short time that yielded such an important grant for the University.

“I thank the team that spent sleepless nights putting together the proposal that resulted into this project. I must report that Makerere University is privileged to be having the most highly qualified persons in online instruction design and online pedagogy at the IODeL and beyond. It is now up to Makerere University in particular and the Country in general to make use of these persons to transform the terrain of online, blended distance and e-learning education.” Prof. Muyinda remarked.

Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, informed the audience, that the E-learning initiative was one of the many partnerships between Mastercard Foundation and Makerere University geared at supporting the young people to succeed on the African continent.

Members of University Management, staff and students present.

“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program continues to recognize that in order to enable young people across Africa to succeed, there is need to; Address systemic barriers in Higher education, Strengthen the capacity of Institutions that serve the Young People, and Support innovative solutions across critical sectors.” Prof. Namaalwa remarked.

The colourful launch ended with a panel discussion in which panelists digested the importance and opportunities for open distance and eLearning in higher institutions of learning.

Bernard Buteera is the Communications Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.

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Supplementary Admissions to Bachelor of Laws Under Private Sponsorship 2022/23

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The Academic Registrar, Makerere University, informs applicants wishing to be admitted to Bachelor of Laws Private for 2022/2023 Academic year but failed to submit their application online to submit their applications from Friday 23rd to Friday 30th September, 2022 at a non-refundable fee of 50,000/= (Fifty thousand shillings only).

The applicants MUST have passed the Pre-entry Examinations for Bachelor of Laws.

Diploma/Degree holders should submit certified copies of their academic transcript to Room
315 Level 3, Senate Building.

Applicants who have already been admitted need not apply.

For any additional information, contact Undergraduate Admissions Offices 301/303 for A’Level Applicants and Office 315 for Diploma/Degree holders.

ALFRED MASIKYE NAMOAH
AG. ACADEMIC REGISTRAR
Date: 22nd September, 2022

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