The Vice Chancellor of the University of London, Prof. Wendy Thomson has emphasized the role of higher education in shaping individuals and societies. “Makerere University and the University of London have tens of thousands of talented graduates now contributing to social and economic development and tackling global challenges both at home and around the world, in areas that include education, health, law, business, technology and a range of fields critical to sustainable development,” she noted while delivering her Commencement Lecture on the first day of the 73rd graduation ceremony, 13th February 2023. Citing the UN Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 that proclaimed the right to education, directed to the full development of the human personality, the strengthening of respect for human rights, the promotion of global citizenship, and sustenance of the global commons, Prof. Thomson said strengthening higher education would greatly transform nation states across the globe. “The University of London is scoping deeper engagement with the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) in its mission to expand doctoral education and build research capacity to address key challenges including health, education, climate, natural resources and deep social and economic questions of equality and sustainability. We know that graduates of ARUA institutions – including our own graduates across Africa are key to long-term sustainable development,” she said.
Visiting Uganda and Makerere for the first time, Prof. Thomson noted that it was a great opportunity for the two Universities to renew their historical ties and strengthen collaboration. “At a time when Makerere has reached its centenary, this is a splendid opportunity for both institutions to reflect upon our special relationship and look to a future collaboration,” she said. The relationship between the two institutions dates back to 1949 when Makerere became a university college affiliated to the University College of London. With the establishment of the University of East Africa on 29th June 1963, the special relationship with the University of London came to a close and degrees of the University of East Africa were instituted. On July 1, 1970, Makerere became an independent national university of the Republic of Uganda, offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses leading to its own awards.
Prof. Thomson congratulated the graduands upon the ‘very important milestone’ given the challenges placed on study and health care services during the pandemic. “I would also like to express my recognition and respect to your family and friends who have supported you through your studies to reach this joyful moment. I have a daughter who has just begun university in England, and I appreciate the financial and emotional calls that are made on parents and families during a university education.”
Three Colleges presented students for the award of degrees and diplomas on the first day of the 73rd graduation ceremony of Makerere University. These include; the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), the College of Health Sciences (CHS) and the School of Law. CoNAS presented 275 graduands, 84 female and 192 male. Of these, 7 graduated with PhDs (3 female, 4 male), 38 with MSc (7 female, 31 male) and 130 with BSc (74 female, 156 male). The PhD graduates include; Dr Samuel Ojelel, Head, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology; Kajumba Pamella Katalihwa (Department of Physics), Mukalazi Hebert (Department of Mathematics), Nayebare Gumoteyo Jacintha (Department of Geology and Petroleum Studies); Okello Alex (Department of Physics); Kimuli Philly Ivan; and Nankinga Loy (Department of Mathematics).
A total of 13,209 students will be awarded degrees and diplomas of Makerere University during the 73rd graduation ceremony that ends on Friday, 17th February 2023. Of these, 6803 (52%) are female and 6406 (48%) male.
Remarks by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports
In her remarks, the Minister of Education and Sports. Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni who attended the ceremony virtually congratulated the graduands and appreciated the parents and guardians for the sacrifices made to ensure their children acquire quality education. She equally appreciated the faculty of Makerere for committing time to educate the students. The Minister applauded the University Council for the new strategy that seeks to increase graduate students at Makerere and pledged more government support towards research. She challenged the incoming members of Council and the University Management to work out plans to equip students with skills to fight moral decadency in society, focusing on the fight against HIV/AIDS and corruption. “Each individual life has a purpose and if that purpose is not discovered, life becomes meaningless. Do what it takes to prepare students with integrity and humility to enable them fulfil God’s given purpose,” she advised. She urged the graduands to use the skills acquired at the University to develop the country.
Remarks by the Chancellor
The Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma congratulated the students for successfully completing their respective programmes of study and research. “One of my favorite quotations is from the Gospel of John chapter 17. Jesus is praying to God and He says: I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (John17:4)NIV. This implies that finishing the task God has given us to do brings glory to God and to us. So by accomplishing what brought you to Makerere University, you have brought glory to God, to your parents, to your supporters and to your country.”
He paid special tribute to members of staff for the excellent work done to prepare the graduands. “Despite the severe challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to both staff and students, they persevered and today marks your successful victory over all these challenges. The university leadership and teachers as well as the graduands deserve our gratitude for a job very well done.” He also appreciated the parents, guardians and sponsors for supporting the students.
Prof. Suruma thanked the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni for the unwavering support to the University. “At a time when the national budget is very tight you have ensured that Makerere University continues to receive the financial support it needs to maintain and even surpass its record of excellence in education and research. We appreciate you for being exemplary as a mother, a guardian and a true champion of morality in Uganda’s education sector. Together with His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni you have persistently supported Makerere University in particular and the Education Sector in general. We thank you very much for taking the time to celebrate Makerere University’s 73rd Graduation Ceremony with us.”
The Chancellor thanked the University Council, under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Lorna Magara for putting in place the right policies and controls to guide and steer the Institution. He commended the University Management under the leadership of Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for ensuring that the policies are successfully implemented.
He encouraged the graduands to remain hopeful even in the midst of affliction. “Worry and anxiety come to all of us, although they don’t improve anything. But faith and trust in God has worked miracles for me. I sincerely encourage you to trust in God. The God who has enabled you to survive COVID and to complete your programme here at Makerere is alive and real.”
Remarks by the Vice Chancellor
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe appreciated the President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni and First Lady, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni for the support that 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. “The Research and Innovation Fund has transformed Makerere tremendously, with very many innovations in agriculture and food security, health, engineering, education, and the social sciences that are already changing the lives of our people. Beyond the 826 grants issued by Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund to date, we have taken a strategic decision to use part of the funding to support PhD research grants. This is in line with Government efforts to develop Uganda’s knowledge economy. We are hopeful that this will help unlock the potential of Makerere to substantively contribute to national development,” he said. He also appreciated the President for the generous contribution of UGX 800 million towards the year-long Mak@100 celebrations. He equally applauded the development partners whose generous support has trained the majority of PhDs, as well as a number of Masters and Post-docs. “I commend the Government and People of Sweden for the biggest staff development programme in the history of Makerere University. Sida support to Makerere University came to an end in June 2022 with more than 500 (staff at Makerere University and other Public Universities) obtaining PhDs and more than 1,000 obtaining Masters’ degrees. We are in consultation with the Swedish Embassy to explore alternative ways of research collaboration.”
The Vice Chancellor appreciated the MasterCard Foundation for the e-Learning Initiative aimed at addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning and therefore enhancing Makerere University’s resilience to future disruptions in teaching, learning and research. “I would like to thank the other stakeholders who are providing scholarships to enable bright, but economically disadvantaged students to attain education at Makerere. These include the Madhvani Foundation, the Government of Uganda through the Higher Education Students Financing Board, the Embassy of China, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Government Ministries, State House, NORAD and many others. I thank the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board for the award of loans to students’ for both undergraduate degree and diploma programmes. The Board has so far supported a total of 1,853 learners at Makerere University since 2014 and this year, a total of 114 Students Loan beneficiaries are graduating.”
Regarding infrastructure development, the Vice Chancellor said plans were in high gear to renovate halls of residence starting with Lumumba and Mary Stuart. “We commend His Excellency, the President for his strategic engagements with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to provide the required funding for the renovation of all Halls of Residence and Schools of Medicine.”
Prof. Nawangwe urged the graduands to be proud and good Ambassadors of the Alma Mater and to put to good use the knowledge acquired to transform their communities and country at large.
Mak Paves Path to Biodiversity Leadership: Inaugural ABS Project Workshop Strengthening Uganda’s Nagoya Protocol Capacity
By Laban Lwasa
In a groundbreaking event that unfolded at Makerere University‘s Telepresence Center on November 7, 2023, the Inception Workshop for the ABS Project took center stage, hosted by the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology, and Biotechnology. Prof. Tumps Ireeta, Principal of CoNAS, set the tone with a warm welcome, highlighting Uganda’s rich biodiversity and the pivotal role of the Nagoya Protocol in ensuring the legal utilization of genetic resources. The collaboration between NEMA and Makerere University, supported by the GEF, aims to equip professionals with ABS knowledge and position Makerere at the forefront of Nagoya Protocol compliance.
Prof. Arthur Kajungu Tugume, Dean of the School of Biosciences, emphasized the project’s significance in institutional capacity strengthening for the Nagoya Protocol’s implementation in Uganda, showcasing the School of Biosciences as a hub for genetic resource research and training. The pilot project, in collaboration with NEMA, GEF, and UNEP, aims to expand countrywide and potentially across the African continent. It seeks to empower a skilled workforce informed on ABS issues, contributing to economic development and poverty eradication as aligned with SDG 1.
Mr. Achuu Peter, Project Manager from NEMA, highlighted Uganda’s extraordinary biodiversity and the need to explore the benefits of genetic resources for medicines, food, and more. He emphasized the importance of the Nagoya Protocol in mitigating biodiversity loss and highlighted challenges faced by Uganda in terms of weak institutional capacity, inadequate policies, and lack of coordination for ABS. The project focuses on strengthening ABS frameworks, capacity building, community-level management, and raising awareness to ensure equitable benefits from genetic resource utilization.
Mr. Daniel Abowe, UNCST ABS Project Officer, shed light on the complex landscape of national ABS laws in Uganda, resulting in legal complexity and high transaction costs for users. He also detailed the Uganda research approval process, emphasizing UNCST’s role in ABS implementation, which includes issuing access permits and ensuring benefit-sharing agreements. The multifaceted project aims to align Uganda with the Nagoya Protocol’s goals and foster collaboration between higher institutions and local communities for the management of genetic resources.
Dr. Katuura Esther, the Project Principal Investigator at Makerere University, highlighted the institution’s pivotal role in training and research. Makerere University aspires to be a thought leader, committed to providing transformative teaching, learning, research, and services that cater to dynamic national and global needs. The institution’s strategic goals encompass leadership in high-quality programs, knowledge dissemination, research, scholarship promotion, and corporate social responsibility. Dr. Esther also addressed the challenges and opportunities in preserving indigenous knowledge, emphasizing the role of digital technologies and collaboration between research institutions and local communities.
The programs designated for updating at Makerere University are a comprehensive effort to align with the Nagoya Protocol. Notable among these programs are BSc Applied and Economic Botany, BSc in Conservation Biology, Bachelor of Biotechnology, Masters in Botany, Masters in Genetics, Masters in Plant Pathology and Crop Science, and Masters in Economic Botany. This holistic approach aims to contribute to the conservation and equitable utilization of genetic resources.
Dr. Cyprian Misinde, the Director of Quality Assurance at Makerere University, emphasized the importance of incorporating international and global standards into the academic curriculum. He underscored the crucial role of projects like ABS in enhancing the capacity of professionals and equipping them to become part of a globally competitive workforce. This workshop marked a significant stride in Uganda’s journey towards sustainable biodiversity management and conservation, creating a ripple effect that extends far beyond its borders, leaving a lasting impact on the world stage.
Laban Lwasa is the Senior Administrative Assistant, Makerere University, Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU)
Ugandan student Dorothy Akoth wins 2023 GBIF Graduate Researchers Award
Ms. Dorothy Akoth, a Master’s student at the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University has been named one of two winners of the 2023 GBIF Graduate Researchers Award. An expert jury selected Akoth, who was nominated by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology together with National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), for the instrumental role of her research in improving the knowledge of the distribution and imperilment status of 110 native fish species outside the iconic Haplochromine tribe of East African cichlids. The student was supervised by Prof. Fredrick Muyodi and Dr. Jackson Efitre
from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at CoNAS, Makerere University, and Dr Vanny Natugonza of Busitema University.
Since its inception in 2010, the annual GBIF Graduate Researchers Award (previously the Young Researchers Award) has sought to promote and encourage innovation in biodiversity-related research using data shared through the GBIF network.
CARTA Fellow Anywar Selected as Fellow of ASLP
Godwin Anywar (cohort 6 graduate, Makerere University) was selected as a fellow of the Africa Science Leadership Programme (ASLP) based at the Future Africa Campus at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, on September 8, 2023.
Within the month, he:
- Will be participating in the Uganda-Swiss Museum Cooperation Workshop from September 24 – October 4, 2023, in Kampala, Uganda, and will present on ‘Traditional Medicine in Transition.’
- Presented a keynote paper on ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing during the PhD Journey’ at the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) 27th Annual International Management Conference (AIMC) under the theme “Leveraging Governance, Human Capital and Technology for Sustainability in Kampala – Uganda on September 25 – 27, 2023.
- Presented a paper on ‘The Cannabis/Marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) Landscape in Africa: An Overview of its Cultivation and Legal Aspects’ at the 20th International Napreca Conference on Natural Network for East and Central Africa (NAPRECA) in Harare, Zimbabwe on September 20, 2023.
- Attended the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Science Forum at the University of Nairobi on September 20, 2023, to celebrate 50 years of DAAD in East Africa.
Source: CARTA Newsletter Issue 69
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