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Mak-RIF Counts Gains, Discusses Commercialisation

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The Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) on Monday 4th April 2022 held a special consultative meeting with University Management during which milestones, impact and future aspirations were shared. The meeting was presided over by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.

To state that Mak-RIF has made some gains since it’s inception in the 2019/2020 financial year would be putting it rather lightly. Now in its third financial year 2021/2022, the UGX 30 Billion per year fund has to date awarded 774 grants out of 1,978 applications; a rate of 39.1%. Along the way, Mak-RIF has developed a number of tools and resources. These include;

  • A standard Request For Proposals (RFP) format,
  • A standard application template,
  • A standard Research & Innovations (R&I) judging template for reviewers,
  • A standard Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) report template,
  • A standard close-out and impact reporting template,
  • A pool of 350 vetted scientific reviewers, and
  • A searchable research database that can provide a lot of information.

“Recently the Office of the Vice Chancellor through the Quality Assurance Directorate (QAD) required an instant report on funding for the SDGs and our IT people ran a quick query and came up with all research projects that are in the seventeen SDG areas” remarked Dr. Roy Mayega who presented Mak-RIF’s progress on behalf of the Grants Management Committee (GMC).

Dr. Roy Mayega makes the presentation on behalf of Mak-RIF GMC.
Dr. Roy Mayega makes the presentation on behalf of Mak-RIF GMC.

“This database can answer a lot of questions for those who want information on research in the University and we wish the same can be rolled out to all other research (projects) so that it can easily be searchable for whatever someone wants” he added.

Dr. Mayega further shared that Mak-RIF has developed an online grants management system, that enables each Principal Investigator (PI) to access key project documents such as the contract, approved proposal and approved budget among others. The PIs also have the ability to enter project milestones into the system and provide quarterly reports on the same. The system then automatically updates the milestone tracker for each of the 774 projects.

Mak-RIF Thematic Areas

In order to ensure that grants are awarded based on national development as well as other priorities, the GMC held consultations with stakeholders from all sectors of Uganda’s economy. The result was a Mak-RIF Research Agenda with fourteen (14) thematic areas namely;

  1. Transforming the Agricultural sector,
  2. Sustainable Health,
  3. Re-Imagining Education,
  4. Water, Sanitation and Environmental sustainability,
  5. Harnessing the Social Sector to drive development,
  6. Harnessing Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage to drive development,
  7. Sustainable Planning, Finance and Monitoring,
  8. Leveraging Public Service and Local Administration for efficient service delivery,
  9. Defence and Security;
  10. Strengthening Law, Governance, Human Rights and International cooperation,
  11. Harnessing Information and Communication Technology to drive development,
  12. Manufacturing , Science and Technology as tools to accelerate development,
  13. Catalysing Business Enterprise, and
  14. Energy and Minerals as drivers of rapid economic development.

So far, the lion’s share of the awards (223) has been claimed by the Sustainable Health thematic area, followed by Transforming the Agricultural sector (100) and Re-Imagining Education (58). Conversely, the three thematic areas of Sustainable Planning, Finance and Monitoring, Defence and Security as well as Strengthening Law, Governance, Human Rights and International cooperation each received seven awards.

Head GAMSU-Prof. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo (standing) makes her submission as L-R: Deann of Students-Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, Academic Registrar-Mr. Alfred Masikye Namoah, Director Legal Affairs-Mr. Javason Kamugisha and Deputy Principal CHS-Prof. Isaac Kajja (Right) listen keenly.
Head GAMSU-Prof. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo (standing) makes her submission as L-R: Dean of Students-Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, Academic Registrar-Mr. Alfred Masikye Namoah (Rear), Director Legal Affairs-Mr. Javason Kamugisha and Deputy Principal CHS-Prof. Isaac Kajja (Right) listen keenly.

Additionally, Dr. Mayega pointed out that females received only 26% of the awards, which could partly be attributed to current staffing ratios. According to the 2020 Makerere University Self Assessment Report by QAD, females on average constitute 40% of Human Resources (Academic-29%, Administrative-51% and Support-50%).

To help improve staff potential to compete for Mak-RIF’s as well as other agencies’ grants, the GMC in collaboration with units such as the Directorate of Finance and Office of the University Secretary regularly carries out capacity building activities at college level. Areas previously covered include; grants writing, grants management, research communication and financial reporting. However, further needs assessment revealed project management as one of the areas that ought to be covered by future capacity building activities.

Mak-RIF Projects with notable impact

Statistics shared by Dr. Mayega revealed that 241 (31.1%) of 774 Mak-RIF projects awarded to date have been completed. 172 of these projects have submitted their closeout reports. The projects that have completed their closeout reports may be classified according to three categories. These include; Physical Products (102), Policy Advisories (52) and Capacity Building (24), which brings the total number to 178. The discrepancy in total is attributed to a few projects whose outcomes belonged to more than one category, hence creating overlaps.

Furthermore, the completed projects may be classified according to three levels namely; Start-up, Point of transition to scale and While already undergoing scale. 52 (29%) of the projects ended at start-up level, while the majority (111 or 62%) ended at the point of transition to scale. The least (15 or 9%) ended while already undergoing scale. This calls for the adoption of strategies that can facilitate more projects to end while already undergoing scale.

Dr. Mayega’s presentation nevertheless outlined some projects as having notable impact at the time of completion. These included;

  • Strengthening Integrated Screening for TB and COVID-19 in Kampala, Uganda by Dr. Fred Collins Semitala – Results stimulated policy change at the Ministry of Health.
  • Drug and Substance Abuse (DASA) in Primary and Secondary Schools in Uganda: Baseline Survey Implications for National Sensitizations by Dr. Leon Matagi – Findings were used by National Drug Authority (NDA) in their national sensitization programme.
  • Deployment of the new Maksoy soybean varieties for on-farm income enhancement, Food and Nutrition security, Enterprise Development and Job creation in Eastern Uganda by Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa – Led to development of an improved process of soy flour transformation into soy powder. Powder can be fortified so as to yield an instant soy milk powder.
  • Transforming Presumptive Age Estimation In Uganda: Methods, Certainty And The Law by Dr. Annet Kutesa – Provided policy recommendations on age estimation among juveniles undergoing criminal proceedings. May also be used for screening of refugees by UNHCR and Players by Sports Federations.
  • Product formulation and evaluation of a herbal acaricide containing bioactive extracts of Albizia coriaria on acaricide resistant Rhipicephalus ticks by Aguma Bush Herbert – In touch with pharmaceutical manufacturers, Government to undertake large scale production.
  • Optimization of the dosage, adjuvant and route for the candidate anti-tick vaccine by Dr. Kokas Ikwap – Determined appropriate dosage of tick vaccine that elicits highest antibodies. Engaged Alfasan U Ltd. to manufacture vaccine candidate under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Determinants of Death Registration Uptake by Dr. Leonard Atuhaire – Study recommends development of a civil registration and vital statistics policy to guide implementation of death registration in Uganda.
  • Developing an automatically controlled commercial solar-dryer and efficient resource recovery innovations for sustained market responsive fruit production in Uganda by Ahamada Zziwa – Makerere, Renewable Energy Department of MEMD and Lutheran World Relief (LWR) collaborating to scale out dryer among arabica coffee farmers.
  • Enhancing Value addition on Potato-Sorghum enterprises for Improved Livelihoods in Uganda (EVaPoSIL) by Prof. Johnny Mugisha – Developed a range of high quality potato-sorghum based products e.g. cookies, biscuits, waffles. Farmers are encouraged to grow more potatoes, more entrepreneurs in value addition and commercialisation were created.

“In terms of academic research output, we have 103 published papers” said Dr. Mayega, adding that this could be a conservative estimate owing to the fact that researchers are still responding to the circular calling for publications arising from Mak-RIF funding.

Head Mak-RIF, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi makes his submission.
Head Mak-RIF, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi makes his submission.

Constraints

The notable gains notwithstanding, Dr. Mayega concluded by pointing out low researcher capacity for project management as one of the biggest challenges. This plays out in the form of gaps in timeliness and completeness of periodic reports, as well as lack of timely and quality accountability for funds received. To remedy this, the Mak-RIF GMC will work with the Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU) to establish college grants support units.

The financial year versus realistic time-frames for project execution was another challenge outlined by the GMC. This, they suggested may be overcome by classifying the release as a fund that spans at least three years, other than an annual grant. Dr. Mayega also noted financial regulations that restrict the release of money, especially the cap on advances, which leads to several small requisitions that have to each be accounted, as a challenge to smooth project implementation.

Contributing to National Development Priorities

Associate Prof. Charles Masembe who presented on the role of universities in influencing national development noted that the COVID-19 pandemic provided useful lessons on the potential for research and innovations that exists within higher education institutions. “When every country was having challenges, we did not get many people from abroad coming here to help us, we looked inward.”

Mak-RIF GMC Members L-R: Dr. Zahara Nampewo, Associate Prof. Charles Masembe, Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, Prof. Frank Mwine and Prof. Moses Joloba listen to proceedings.
Mak-RIF GMC Members L-R: Dr. Zahara Nampewo, Associate Prof. Charles Masembe, Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, Prof. Frank Mwine and Prof. Moses Joloba listen to proceedings.

He noted that socioeconomic transformation takes universities, the government and the business sector working together like a system of gears, with innovations as the vital input into the chain. Citing emerging programmes such as the Parish Development Model (PDM), Assoc. Prof. Masembe said the GMC is ready to include this model as well as other Government programmes into Mak-RIF’s Needs-Responsive Track programme so as to increase Makerere University‘s relevance to national development strategy.

Commercialisation of Research

According to statistics shared by Dr. Roy Mayega in his presentation, only 15 (9%) of 178 projects were completed while already undergoing scale. Dr. Zahara Nampewo who presented on commercialisation of research defined the term as “transfer of knowledge and discoveries to industry by making them into beneficial marketable products/services and therapies that benefit the public.”

Dr. Zahara Nampewo presents on Commercialisation of Research.
Dr. Zahara Nampewo presents on Commercialisation of Research.

Commercialisation of research at Makerere is guided by the Research and Innovations Policy 2008 and the Intellectual Property Management Policy 2008. At the National level, it is guided by the Industrial Property Act 2014 and the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act 2006.

From the preceding definition, it is clear that commercialisation is a process that ought to be guided by the appropriate legal framework in order to benefit the public and inevitably, the researcher. In this regard, Dr. Nampewo outlined five steps of research commercialisation. These are;

  1. Protection of Intellectual Property (IP) – currently handled by the Makerere University IP Management Office
  2. Commercialisation Assessment – through conducting market research
  3. Partnerships – assess opportunities with industry, entrepreneurs and investors
  4. License the technology to a third party in order to move it to the market through a formal license agreement
  5. Own ventures – with support from the University as guided by the IP policy or seeking the funding opportunities from Government or other partners to further develop the innovation.

Reactions to presentations

The Head GAMSU, Prof. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo in her submission noted that whereas statistics of attempts by researchers to commercialise their findings from Mak-RIF projects stood at 9%, further university-wide analysis was likely to reveal even more projects yet/unable to undertake commercialisation of their innovations.

The University Secretary-Mr. Yusuf Kiranda (standing) reacts to the presentation as L-R: University Bursar-Mr. Evarist Bainomugisha, Principal CoCIS-Prof. Tonny Oyana, University Librarian-Associate Prof. Helen Byamugisha, Ag. DVCFA-Prof. Henry Alinaitwe and the Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe listen.
The University Secretary-Mr. Yusuf Kiranda (standing) reacts to the presentation as L-R: University Bursar-Mr. Evarist Bainomugisha, Principal CoCIS-Prof. Tonny Oyana, University Librarian-Associate Prof. Helen Byamugisha, Ag. DVCFA-Prof. Henry Alinaitwe and the Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe listen.

She added that together with Mak-RIF, GAMSU will build a comprehensive and robust research management system to capture the variables required by the university. The system, she added, would provide useful data for identifying gaps that can then be used to inform capacity building activities.

The Head Mak-RIF and Facilitator of the day’s discussions, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi in his remarks thanked the Vice Chancellor, Members of Management and all participants for the impressive attendance of the consultative meeting. He said that Mak-RIF had generated a lot of data over the years, which will provide useful pointers for conducting research and managing teams going forward, with emphasis on mutidisciplinarity.

“As a matter of priority, we are going to make a follow-up on some of these projects for commercialisation. This has been a fruitful interaction and we hope to have many more subsequently” added Prof. Masagazi Masaazi.

Addressing himself to the items in the presentations related to funding, the University Secretary Mr. Yusuf Kiranda outlined 1) The Budget 2) Release of funds to the University 3) Release of funds to researchers 4) Accountability for funds released to researchers and 5) Reporting to the Government as five closely interlinked elements that ought to each be taken seriously for successful project implementation.

Ag. DVCFA, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe makes his remarks.
Ag. DVCFA, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe makes his remarks.

Under element 1) The Budget, Mr. Kiranda included a sub-element of Planning, which he said researchers ought to harness by splitting budgets for multi-year projects over two or more financial years in order to avoid stifling project activities. “With proper planning, we can make this problem cease to exist.”

Delays in procurement are some of the other factors affecting accountability for funds released to researchers. In this regard, Mr. Kiranda offered to, at the next Management meeting, move that an independent contracts committee be created for Mak-RIF, owing to its fund value.

Concluding remarks

The Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration)-Ag. DVCFA, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe who also serves as the Chairperson GAMSU Steering Committee reiterated the need for GAMSU and Mak-RIF to work closely together to put in place systems that will lead to effective management of research and boost outputs. He also called for the need to further strengthen the IP Management Office so as to boost commercialisation of research.

The DVCAA, Associate Professor Umar Kakumba makes his submission.
The DVCAA, Associate Professor Umar Kakumba makes his submission.

“As we think about commercialisation, we need to think about big funding as well as reliable partners who will not take advantage of initiatives by our researchers. I challenge our Directorate of Legal Affairs to scrutinise all contracts and MoUs so that they are watertight” emphasised Prof. Alinaitwe.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs)-DVCAA, Associate Prof. Umar Kakumba admitted that the advent of Mak-RIF had brought to light the immense potential of Makerere staff to conduct research that informs national development priorities.

“One of the requirements of Mak-RIF is that teams must work with different organs outside the university and we are seeing the University being taken out of the Ivory Tower. Under Mak-RIF we were able to see the connection between Makerere and the rest of the stakeholder communities and agencies, both Government and Non-Governmental” added the DVCAA.

Associate Prof. Kakumba nevertheless urged the Mak-RIF GMC to go beyond the statistics and focus on impact evaluation. “We need to touch base with what has been the real value of transformation that our research has done to the community.”

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked the Mak-RIF GMC for a job well done so far.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked the Mak-RIF GMC for a job well done so far.

Delivering the meeting’s final remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked the Mak-RIF GMC for the a job well done in as far as effectively managing the funding from Government, hence bringing great pride to the university. “But as you have heard from the comments, we can do much more with the money the Government is giving us to help the transformation of our country. That is why we are here.”

One of the proposals put forward by the GMC in response to a request from Management was the inclusion of a PhD support component in Mak-RIF starting financial year 2022/2023. Lauding this decision, the Vice Chancellor noted that, “as Africa we need to produce more PhDs. If we don’t, we are doomed… the older generation are retiring and we must replenish.”

Reiterating the need for commercialisation of research, the Prof. Nawangwe called for the setting up of more business incubation centres (beyond the Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre), provided that the University Intellectual Property Management Policy is strictly adhered to.

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Mak DARP Project Launch to Revolutionise Management of Academic Records

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The Guest of Honour-Hon. Dr. John C. Muyingo (4th R), Chairperson of Council-Mrs. Lorna Magara (3rd R), Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (3rd L), Permanent Secretary MoES-Ms. Ketty Lamaro (2nd R), Chancellor Emeritus-Prof. Ezra Suruma (R), Country Program Head Mastercard Foundation Uganda-Ms. Meralyn Mungereza (4th L), Chairperson Mak-RIF GMC-Prof. Fred Masagazi-Masaazi (2nd L) and DARP Project PI-Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi (L) at the launch event on 19th April 2024. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

By Ritah Namisango

“This initiative, funded by the Government of Uganda through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, represents a significant step forward in our efforts to modernize and digitalize our academic processes. It’s therefore with great pleasure and pride that I launch the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes project at Makerere University, and I commission the Registry of Students’ Records and the Archive of Students’ Records,” stated the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo.

As the world continually evolves from manual and traditional methods of records management to modern and digitalized processes, Makerere University launched the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project to ease the storage, retrieval and acquisition of academic documents by her stakeholders.

The project has digitalized records and implemented new processes as well as established a digital state-of-the-art storage facility at the Senate Building to securely store university academic documents. The digitization process comes along with a university policy that guides on how to record, manage, retrieve and dispose of records not in use. This project is designed to reduce on the substantial amount of space that paper storage systems occupy as well as safeguard records from disasters like fire.

Left to Right: Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi, Mrs. Lorna Magara, Hon. Dr. John C. Muyingo and Prof. Fred Masagazi-Masaazi at the Commissioning of the Archive of Students' Records. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Senate Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Left to Right: Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi, Mrs. Lorna Magara, Hon. Dr. John C. Muyingo and Prof. Fred Masagazi-Masaazi at the Commissioning of the Archive of Students’ Records.

Officiating at the launch of the DARP project on Friday 19th April, 2024 at Makerere University Freedom Square, Hon. John C. Muyingo, affirmed on behalf of Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni that the launch was a significant milestone in the history of Makerere University.

The Education and Sports Minister further noted that in today’s fast-paced world, universities must manage massive amounts of academic information, and efficient record keeping necessitates that the information is accurate, accessible and secure, benefiting both the institution and its stakeholders. She noted that the DARP system would streamline the processes of managing and accessing academic records, resulting in significant timesaving for students and other stakeholders at the university and beyond.

“Digitalization of academic records and processes is an innovation set to revolutionize the way records are managed by addressing pressing public concerns such as efficiency, security, integrity and accessibility as well as eliminating the unnecessary delays in the processes. The traditional manual approach, while effective in its time has become increasingly challenging to sustain in this digital world, therefore, digitalizing academic records and processes provide crucial responses to the monotonous questions that the outdated manual system never addressed,” stated the Minister’s speech.

The Foundation Stone Commissioning of the Archive of Students' Records. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Senate Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
The Foundation Stone Commissioning of the Archive of Students’ Records.

Having outlined the challenges and risks that the traditional paper-based record keeping systems present such as the storage space factor, the risk of mixing active and inactive records, the high rate of wear and tear as well as vulnerability to manipulation of records, the Minister commended Makerere University on the enviable track record of efficiently managing and securely storing its academic documents, Senate minutes, curricula, examination results and students files for nearly a century, despite political upheavals and other challenges.

She observed that digitalized systems would make academic records more accessible to the students and eliminate the frustration of delays caused by bureaucratic inefficiencies and the outdated paper system, enabling them to timely take the necessary steps in academic and professional progression.

As the University embarked on its journey of digital transformation, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni equally applauded Makerere for continuously upholding its commitment to academic excellence, research and innovation. She advised the fraternity to stay committed to the principles of innovation and inclusiveness that define the University. As such, she urged them to embrace the digital transformation wholeheartedly so as to harness the power of technology and enable Makerere University to remain a beacon of excellence in the academic world.

Right to Left: Hon. Dr. John C. Muyingo, Mrs. Lorna Magara, Prof. Fred Masagazi-Masaazi, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. Umar Kakumba, Prof. Justine Namaalwa and Ms. Meralyn Mungereza during a tour of the Archive of Students' Records. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Senate Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Right to Left: Hon. Dr. John C. Muyingo, Mrs. Lorna Magara, Prof. Fred Masagazi-Masaazi, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. Umar Kakumba, Prof. Justine Namaalwa and Ms. Meralyn Mungereza during a tour of the Archive of Students’ Records.

“Since its establishment in 1922, Makerere University has been a beacon of knowledge and learning, shaping the minds of generations of students and contributing significantly to the development of our nation, Africa and the world at large. Thank you for these brains. Your hard work, expertise, and dedication were instrumental in building this DARP project to realization. I am confident that you will have a lasting and positive impact on this university and the entire education sector, not only in Uganda, but the entire world,” said Hon. Janet Museveni.

The First Lady expressed her gratitude for the partnership with Mastercard Foundation and the support it renders in advancing education and innovation at Makerere University.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe highlighted that the launch of the DARP project was not only a landmark achievement for Makerere University, but also a confirmation of the importance that the University Council and Management attach to the role that digitalization and e-services play in implementation of the University strategic plan that continually strives for a professionally managed university.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe delivers his remarks at the launch. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe delivers his remarks at the launch.

The Vice Chancellor revealed that the official launch of the DARP Project, undertaken in-house by a hardworking team of University staff, was a financial gain on the part of the University and an additional asset in the quest to improve efficiency and effectiveness as far as the University academic records and processes are concerned.

“Our current drive has been the continued digitalization of various business processes and services so as to be more responsive to the dynamic needs of our students, staff and stakeholders. We have been able to achieve this through intentional development of our in-house information systems development capacity, which has saved us a lot of funds in terms of initial purchase as well as annual license renewal costs,” said the Vice Chancellor.  

Prof. Nawangwe stated that the DARP project has greatly contributed to the timely and improved service delivery to students and clients. He added that the ultimate goal is to enable students download their own transcripts without need for elaborate physical processes at the university.

Members of Council and Management follow proceedings during the DARP Project Launch. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Members of Council and Management follow proceedings during the DARP Project Launch.

“During the 74th graduation ceremony, Makerere University was able to issue academic transcripts to qualifying students before graduation. I am pleased to inform you that we succeeded in issuing of academic transcripts before the graduation date because of the DARP project, which we are launching today. With the digitalization of students’ academic records, the University is now in a better position to provide the required information and data on time,” said the Vice Chancellor.

Prof. Nawangwe elaborated that Makerere, being Uganda’s Premier University has been a major beneficiary of several initiatives aimed at improving ICT infrastructure and connectivity. He added that the University has been able to achieve this largely due to the generous donations of the Government of Uganda and other development partners. He thanked His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Uganda whose support led to the creation of the Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) in the 2019/2020 financial year with initial funding of UGX 30 Billion.

He revealed that the funding has continued to be availed throughout the last five financial years, which is clear demonstration that the Government of Uganda esteems Research and Innovation as catalysts to Uganda’s continued march from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Right) presents a plaque to Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi (Left) as her husband and Vice Chanellor, Uganda Christian University, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi (Centre) witnesses. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Right) presents a plaque to Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi (Left) as her husband and Vice Chanellor, Uganda Christian University, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi (Centre) witnesses.

“I am proud to say that Mak-RIF has transformed Makerere’s academic and research landscape tremendously. Over the last five Financial Years, we have worked with other key stakeholders including Government ministries, institutions, agencies, organizations, and the private sector. Together, we have continued to increase the local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Uganda’s development agenda, especially the un-funded priorities” stated Prof. Nawangwe.

 In the same spirit, the Vice Chancellor applauded the Principal Investigator and Team Leader DARP, Mrs. Patience Rubabinda Mushengyezi and all the Team Members for the hard work that has improved the status of academic records and processes from manual processes to e-services. The DARP project is a collaboration between the Academic Registrar’s Department, College of Education and Externals Studies (CEES), College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) and the Directorate of Information and Communication Technology Support (DICTS). The DARP Project team includes: Prof. Betty Ezati, Dr. Peace Tumuheki, Dr. David Luyombya, Dr. Joyce Bukirwa, Ms. Ruth Iteu Eyoku, Mr. Juma Katongole, Mr. Joshua Muhumuza and Mr. Lubowa Gyaviira.

 The Vice Chancellor also thanked the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) and the Mastercard Foundation for supporting different phases of the DARP Project.

Some of the members of the DARP Project Team from Left to Right: Prof. Betty Ezati, Ms. Ruth Iteu Eyoku, Mr. Joshua Muhumuza, Dr. Joyce Bukirwa, Dr. David Luyombya and Mr. Juma Katongole. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Some of the members of the DARP Project Team from Left to Right: Prof. Betty Ezati, Ms. Ruth Iteu Eyoku, Mr. Joshua Muhumuza, Dr. Joyce Bukirwa, Dr. David Luyombya and Mr. Juma Katongole.

Mrs. Lorna Magara, the Chairperson of Makerere University Council acknowledged that launching the DARP project at Makerere University marked a significant step forward in digitalizing higher education services. She underscored that the transformational power of digitalization could not be overstated. She stated that by implementing an Academic Records Management System, the University would streamline the tracking and retrieval of academic files and establish a robust platform for digital certification and record verification.

“In an era where credential fraud poses a significant challenge, the DARP Project reinforces transparency, trust, and confidence in our academic processes. It is testament to our commitment to excellence. The DARP Project heralds a new era; one where our certificates and transcripts are shielded against increasingly sophisticated forgeries. By providing digitally verifiable academic documents, we empower employers worldwide to expedite verification procedures,” she articulated.

The Chairperson stated that Makerere University aims to create a dynamic and integrated learning environment with a goal to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in an ever-evolving world.  She emphasized the need to prioritize student-centeredness and adaptability which vision perfectly aligns with the DARP Project to ensure that the most deserving students can compete fairly in the job market alongside genuinely qualified candidates.

Mrs. Lorna Magara makes her remarks at the DARP Project launch. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Mrs. Lorna Magara makes her remarks at the DARP Project launch.

She advised that a system’s effectiveness hinges on the quality of input it receives, therefore, meticulous attention to detail is essential to ensure that the necessary information is accurately fed into the system to yield the expected outcomes. She recommended that vigilant effort has to be invested in ensuring quality processes in how the information is gathered and fed into the system, and the quality of persons tasked to do the work.

Mrs. Magara praised the DARP Principal Investigator for initiating the project in support of the University’s efforts to; address the critical element of maintaining integrity of academic records, significantly contributing to the University’s commitment to digitizing systems, and upgrading the process of archiving of records for ease in verification, certification, and retrieval.

She also extended appreciation to the Government of Uganda for the provision of funds through Mak-RIF, and to Mastercard Foundation for the provision of equipment and other support that will facilitate safe processing and storage of the academic documents.

Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Mrs. Lorna Magara (Centre) applauds as Hon. Dr. John C. Muyingo (Right) and Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Left) shake hands following the official launch of the DARP Project. Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Mrs. Lorna Magara (Centre) applauds as Hon. Dr. John C. Muyingo (Right) and Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Left) shake hands following the official launch of the DARP Project.

The Principal Investigator and Team Leader, DARP project, Mrs. Patience Rubabinda Mushengyezi proclaimed that the launch of the project was the birth of a new era in records management at Makerere University.

To enable the audience to understand and appreciate the situation before the DARP project, Mrs. Mushengyezi shared a documentary that highlighted the transformation from a purely manual process to a digital one. She added that the digitalization of student records from the 1980s changes the narrative of delays and long queues to fast, timely and friendly services to the students.

The Principal investigator disclosed that the DARP project team’s aspiration was to have the digitalization of students’ records rolled out in all the schools and colleges of the University. She observed that because of the hard work of the DARP team, they now have clear and well organized documents and the ‘ugly’ records shall never be seen again since they no longer exist. She expressed gladness that what started as a vision had become reality, culminating in the launch of the DARP project.

Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi makes her presentation at the launch. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi makes her presentation at the launch.

“Today, Makerere University is launching a new era of digital transformation in the management of students’ records and service delivery. We are changing the narrative of long queues, lengthy processes and we are now moving to efficient and digital services. We are here also to commission the registry of the students’ records and archive. The registry has been fitted with modern shelves with the capacity of storing over 30,000 students files but as we have seen, there is room for improvement and expansion. The archive has been fitted with modern shelves that have a capacity of storing over 100,000 students’ files and 21 wagons will store 170,000 students’ files,” Mrs. Mushengyezi declared.

Recalling the genesis of the DARP Project, Mrs. Mushengyezi shared that when the Government allocated support to the university’s research and innovations fund in 2019, she approached her colleagues and together, they submitted a project proposal. The project identified several challenges which were affecting records management at Makerere University namely; manual records handling, inadequate storage space, inadequate security for records, inexistent policy on records management, and lack of a system to streamline records management. The DARP project therefore set out to address these gaps with the ultimate goal of operating e-services.

“The objectives of DARP Project were to digitalize academic processes including students’ files and examination results and other documents like senate minutes. We wished to establish a students’ records verification and certification Centre. We also wanted to use ICT to improve efficiency in conducting senate meetings and to archive existing manual documents into properly bound and referenced files. It has been a lot of hard work by the project team, but we have seen God’s hand in this transformational journey. I wish to say that we have achieved 95% of our objectives,” Mrs. Mushengyezi stated.

Dignitaries enjoy a light moment during the launch of the DARP Project. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Dignitaries enjoy a light moment during the launch of the DARP Project.

The Principal Investigator noted that the DARP project had created efficiency in the academic Registrar’s department with ability to generate reports on number of students by categories such as course, graduation cohort, academic disciplines i.e. Medicine, Law, Engineering etc., current enrolment and progression, as well as policies passed by the University Senate per year, and so on.

She thanked the Government of Uganda for funding the entire process by providing laptops, access control systems, CCTV cameras, printers, furniture, archival boxes, the 21 shelves, the wagons, stationery and facilitation of the entire team. She also thanked Mastercard Foundation for the support through the relief fund.

She appreciated the entire Makerere University Council and Management for the support rendered towards the establishment of the DARP project and for prioritizing the Project as a university programme. In a very special way, she acknowledged Prof. William Bazeyo, the former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi-Chairperson of Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC), Prof. Umar Kakumba, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Mr. Alfred Masikye Namoah, former Academic Registrar and the Academic Registrar, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, the University Secretary, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Deputy Registrars namely Mr. Charles Ssentongo and Mr. Tom Otim, for providing tireless support.

 In addition, she recognized the supervisors in the Directorate of Research and Graduate namely Prof. Edward Bbaale and Ms. Prossie Nakayiki.

Left to Right: Former Vice Chancellor-Prof. George Kirya, Chaplain St. Francis-Rev. Dr. Lydia Nsaale Kitayimbwa, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi and other members of the family. Launch of the Digitalization of Academic Records and Processes (DARP) project by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni represented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. John C. Muyingo, 19th April 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.
Left to Right: Former Vice Chancellor-Prof. George Kirya, Chaplain St. Francis-Rev. Dr. Lydia Nsaale Kitayimbwa, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi and other members of the family.

The Principal Investigator, Mrs. Mushengyezi also appreciated the members of staff whom she referred to as DARP Foot Soldiers for organizing, sorting and scanning the records.

In recognition of her selfless service and leadership, the DARP project team members through the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe presented Mrs.  Patience Mushengyezi with a plaque and bouquet of flowers.

The DARP project launch was graced by the Chancellor Emeritus, Prof. Ezra Suruma, Members of Parliament, Vice Chancellors of other Universities, former Vice Chancellors, former Deputy Vice Chancellors in charge of Finance and Administration, the Makerere University Students’ Guild, and Mrs. Mushengyezi’s family. It was moderated by Dr. Zahara Nampewo, the Deputy Principal of the School of Law and Ms. Ritah Namisango, Principal Public Relations Officer and Chairperson of the Protocol, Publicity and Media Sub-Committee for the launch.

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Mak holds Mental Health Awareness Campaign for International Students

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Mr. Henry Nsubuga, Mr. Peter Mwanja, Dr. Gardner Herbert and other officials pose with International Students at the event on 12th April 2024. Mental Health Awareness Campaign organized by the International Students Union in partnership with the Counselling and Guidance Centre, International Office and Office of the Dean of Students, 12th April 2024, Senate Conference Hall, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.

By Betty Nabisubi

On Friday 12th April 2024, over 100 international students convened at Makerere University to participate in the Mental Health Awareness Campaign organized by the International Students Union in partnership with the Counselling and Guidance Centre, International Office and Office of the Dean of Students.

The campaign, which included both physical and virtual participants, rallied international students to always ask for help. The annual event enables students to participate in engaging discussions, and provides a platform for them to openly share and address personal and academic challenges, both on and off campus.

The aim of holding a mental health awareness campaign for international students in the university is to promote mental well-being and provide support and resources for students facing mental health challenges. Furthermore, it seeks to raise awareness about common mental health issues, reduce stigma surrounding mental illness, and educate students on available mental health services and support networks. Additionally, it aims to empower students to recognize signs of distress, encourage help-seeking behavior, and foster a supportive and inclusive campus community where students feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns.

Mr. Peter Mwanja, Warden of University Hall represented the Office of the Dean of Students. Mental Health Awareness Campaign organized by the International Students Union in partnership with the Counselling and Guidance Centre, International Office and Office of the Dean of Students, 12th April 2024, Senate Conference Hall, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.
Mr. Peter Mwanja, Warden of University Hall represented the Office of the Dean of Students.

In line with the Mental Health Awareness Campaign theme; It is ok to ask for help, each Official urged the international students to seek guidance and support from the right offices and entities within the Makerere University system.

The Office of the Dean of Students represented by Mr. Peter Mwanja, Warden of University Hall emphasized the importance of students seeking help rather than isolating themselves in their hostels when faced with problems. He urged students to refrain from complaining about lack of assistance, but instead take action by speaking up when faced with challenges. Mr. Mwanja pledged to stand with the students throughout their academic journey so as to ensure that they have a fruitful stay at Makerere University.

In the same spirit, the Manager of the Makerere University Counselling and Guidance Centre, Mr. Henry Nsubuga called upon international students to utilize their services. He appealed to students to seek for help whenever they feel distressed.

Manager of the Makerere University Counselling and Guidance Centre, Mr. Henry Nsubuga. Mental Health Awareness Campaign organized by the International Students Union in partnership with the Counselling and Guidance Centre, International Office and Office of the Dean of Students, 12th April 2024, Senate Conference Hall, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.
Manager of the Makerere University Counselling and Guidance Centre, Mr. Henry Nsubuga.

“Please come to the Centre when you need help. The Centre is ready to provide assistance upon any distress signal. I assure you that nobody will judge you for not being okay. We have professional counsellors who are willing to help,” remarked Mr. Nsubuga.  The Makerere University Counselling and Guidance Centre is conveniently located at Plot 106, Mary Stuart Road, opposite Mary Stuart Hall.

Dr. Gardner Herbert from the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre at Makerere University emphasized the importance of emotional intelligence, which encompasses the ability to understand, manage, and express one’s own emotions effectively, as well as to recognize and respond appropriately to the emotions of others. He highlighted the significance of students possessing skills such as self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management.

Dr. Gardner Herbert from the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC). Mental Health Awareness Campaign organized by the International Students Union in partnership with the Counselling and Guidance Centre, International Office and Office of the Dean of Students, 12th April 2024, Senate Conference Hall, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Gardner Herbert from the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC).

Self-awareness, he emphasized, serves as the foundation of emotional intelligence. This involves recognizing and understanding one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations. Dr. Gardner explained that ndividuals with high self-awareness are better equipped to comprehend how their emotions influence their thoughts and behaviors, leading to more informed decision-making and greater self-control.

Mr. Gerald Ochwo on behalf of the Makerere University International Office encouraged the audience to visit the premises on Flat A5, Block A, Lincoln Flats for their mandate is anchored on ensuring that International students’ university experience is enriching. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of students managing their visas proactively, instead of rushing to renew them either at the last minute or upon expiry. He pledged to organize more events to foster relationships among students.

Ms. Olivia Mwanje shared a lived experience as an International Masters Student. Mental Health Awareness Campaign organized by the International Students Union in partnership with the Counselling and Guidance Centre, International Office and Office of the Dean of Students, 12th April 2024, Senate Conference Hall, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.
Ms. Olivia Mwanje shared a lived experience as an International Masters Student.

Focusing on nurturing a supportive environment for students away from home, the International Office invited Ms. Olivia Mwanje, a student of Makerere University pursuing a Master’s degree in Climate Change and Development at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to share a lived experience.

Ms. Mwanje was one of the beneficiaries of the exchange students’ programme to Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her testimony served to demonstrate to international students that with dedication and sacrifice, it is possible to leave one’s home country, study abroad, and excel both academically and personally. She encouraged students to remain focused on their academic programmes despite the allure of other pursuits.

The Guild President, H.E. Vincent Lubega Nsamba. Mental Health Awareness Campaign organized by the International Students Union in partnership with the Counselling and Guidance Centre, International Office and Office of the Dean of Students, 12th April 2024, Senate Conference Hall, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.
The Guild President, H.E. Vincent Lubega Nsamba.

“I urge you, fellow students, to remain steadfast in your educational aspirations while exploring the opportunities available. Prioritize your academic goals over non-academic pursuits,” said Ms. Mwanje. She stressed that deviating from the primary objective leads to unintended consequences. For instance, she shared stories of students who abandoned their academic pursuits for menial jobs upon arrival abroad. Ms. Mwanje advised students to stay committed to their studies and, upon completion, pursue other non-academic endeavors if they so desire.

The Guild President, H.E. Vincent Lubega Nsamba expressed the Guild Leadership’s strong commitment to ensuring that international students have a comfortable stay at Makerere University. He encouraged international students to seek counselling whenever they feel distressed and emphasized the importance of talking to peers for support.

One of the female students that attended the event. Mental Health Awareness Campaign organized by the International Students Union in partnership with the Counselling and Guidance Centre, International Office and Office of the Dean of Students, 12th April 2024, Senate Conference Hall, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.
One of the female students that attended the event.

One of the international student leaders, Mr. Harrison Igwe expressed enthusiasm for organizing activities that promote unity within the international student community at Makerere University. The goal of the activities, he said, is to enhance camaraderie and strengthen support networks among international students.

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Dr. Martin Aliker – Celebrating A Life Well Lived

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Dr. Martin Aliker (2nd L) shakes hands with the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (2nd R) at the successful conclusion of the Second Edition of the Makerere University Endowment Fund (MakEF) Run (MakRun) on Sunday 25th March 2018 as Prof. William Bazeyo (L) and Dr. Florence Nakayiwa (R) witness.

The Makerere University Council, Senate, Alumni and the entire students’ community has learnt with great sorrow of the death of your beloved head, Dr. Martin Aliker. Please accept our sincerest condolences during this trying time.

Dr. Aliker joined Makerere College then in 1948 and shortly thereafter received a scholarship to join Northwestern University, Illinois where he earned a Bachelor of Political Science. Being an ardent student, he also earned a Fulbright Fellowship at Northwestern University, and graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery, later becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of the United Kingdom.

Dr. Aliker has throughout his long and well-lived life projected an enviable brand, reflective of a professional and hardworking gentleman who has excelled in all walks of life as a distinguished alumnus, scholar, influential business leader, entrepreneurial mentor, and one of Uganda’s and indeed Africa’s and the Commonwealth’s leading senior citizens.

The name Dr. Martin Aliker has stood the test of time as one attributable to dedicated service with impeccable integrity, tested and proven business acumen, making him a distinguished source of inspiration to both the young and old. It was therefore with great pride that Makerere University on 17th July 2014 appointed him as the Chairperson of the pioneer Board of Trustees in charge of the Makerere University Endowment Fund (MakEF).

Under his stewardship, the Inaugural Board had at the end of their term in 2019 grown MakEF’s onshore fund from nothing in 2014 to UGX 1.5 Billion, while the offshore fund was valued at 1.5 Million GBP.

We remain forever thankful to God for the gift of Dr. Martin Aliker’s inspirational life and pray that the good Lord will comfort you his beloved and rest his soul in eternal peace.

Umar Kakumba (PhD)
AG. VICE CHANCELLOR

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