“The African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) has been selected to host the Africa Open Science Platform (AOSP) Node for the Eastern Africa region. This is a key milestone aimed at advancing scientific research and data sharing on the African continent,” said the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe during a press conference held on Wednesday 12th July 2023.
The Vice Chancellor who was joined by Dr. Gaston Ampe Tumuhimbise, the Country Director, AICAD Uganda Office informed journalists gathered in the Council Room, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University that AICAD will host AOSP node for a period of five years effective June 2023.
The Press Release follows below:
PRESS RELEASE: AICAD SELECTED TO HOST AFRICA OPEN SCIENCE PLATFORM (AOSP) NODE FOR EASTERN AFRICA REGION
After a very rigorous and competitive process, the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa has selected the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) as a regional node for the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) taking charge of the East African region node. AICAD is a regional organization charged with linking university generated technologies to the communities to fight poverty with headquarters at Jomo Kenyata University of Agriculture and Technology. AICAD has country offices located at Makerere University in Uganda, Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania and Egerton University in Kenya.
The other two award winners in Africa include; the Egyptian National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS) for the Northern African Node based in Egypt and the UbuntuNet Alliance for the Southern Africa Node based in Malawi. The appointment will be for a five-year term, starting in June 2023, with additional regional nodes to be appointed to cover all regions of the continent.
Hosted by the National Research Foundation (NRF) since 2020, the AOSP aims to position African scientists at the cutting edge of data intensive science by stimulating interactivity and creating opportunity through the development of efficiencies of scale, building critical mass through shared capacities, and amplifying impact through a commonality of purpose and voice. This prominent initiative is supported by the South African Department of Science and Innovation, the International Science Council, CODATA, the Academy of Science of South Africa, and other prominent regional networks. The AOSP will also leverage international networks and developments, and the momentum towards operationalization of the international framework for open science.
The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe congratulates AICAD on being appointed to coordinate this noble initiative in East Africa. Makerere University welcomes every initiative and programme that harnesses the power of research to transform lives and societies. AICAD through this Africa Open Science Platform (AOSP) will enhance the ongoing efforts of ensuring that research, science and data contributes to reduction of poverty in the African region.
“The Makerere University Strategic Plan stipulates the re-positioning of Makerere University into a research led university. This is premised on the fact that no country can develop without research. The main goal of AICAD is fighting poverty using university generated innovations. I am happy to note that the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa has appointed AICAD as a regional node for the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) taking charge of the East African region node. With this appointment, Makerere University is ready to work with AICAD to coordinate all member universities and other research data generating agencies to pursue the ideas of open science. The idea of open science and data sharing is key in the innovation process. When data is shared, solutions are quickly realized. I understand this is how the COVID-19 vaccine was quickly produced. Different research groups were able to share their data for a common cause,” remarked Prof. Nawangwe.
The role of the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) regional nodes will be to coordinate, create linkages, support, and promote efforts aligned with implementation of Open Science programmes at a regional level, strengthen knowledge networks and infrastructure access, and enhance cooperation between regions and globally in support of the AOSP’s vision. Among others, regional nodes will be expected to lead on programme delivery and implementation, coordination, capacity building, societal engagement in dialogue, and policy support and promotion of the UNESCO Open Science Recommendations at national and regional levels.
The incoming Director of the AOSP, Dr. Tshiamo Motsegwa, had this to say: “For the Global South, and the African continent specifically, the efficiency and productivity gains from Open Science present a compelling case for government research funding in the context of limited resources and competing priorities for the development of a facilitative and truly African-wide Open Science Diplomacy platform for enhancing continental coordination, collaboration and making global linkages – this to develop an African science system fit for purpose”.
AICAD Uganda Country office was established in 2000 located at Makerere University and headed by a Country Director. AICAD’s headquarters are located in Nairobi, Kenya. This office is responsible for coordinating the institute’s programs and activities dealing with poverty reduction in Uganda through human capacity development by linking knowledge to application. Initially, AICAD was funded through JICA but since 2012, the Institute’s programs are funded by the three governments of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. AICAD’s primary aim is poverty alleviation, by facilitating the local people to solve their problems. To do this, AICAD works with public Universities and other institutions to filter and apply those aspects of research that are of practical significance to targeted users. These include public universities such as Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara, Gulu, Busitema, Kabale, Muni and KIU. As part of its human capacity development, AICAD’s network has played useful roles in supporting young institutions, individual researchers (through graduate student’s research) and communities.
Summary of Matters Arising from the Question and Answer Session
Concept of Open Science
Public Higher Education Institutions such as Makerere and agencies such as the National Agricultural Research Organisation are publicly funded by taxpayers. As such they have a duty to account for the funding they receive to carry out research by sharing their findings. Open Science creates a space where the sharing of these findings can happen beyond forums where scientists and researchers only talk to each other. These findings are availed in simplified formats that can be accessed by innovators and entrepreneurs who may not have the capacity to undertake expensive research, to create goods and services for the benefit of the country.
The AOSP will enable data generated in Uganda as well as the Eastern Africa to be freely shared with the public for their use as well as journalists for further dissemination. The founding of AICAD in 1993 implicitly complied with the principles of open science. AICAD was founded in 1993 principally to reduce poverty through scientific research and sharing this knowledge with the community. Joint sharing of knowledge at international level in line with open science is one of the factors that led to the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as curbing outbreaks of diseases such as ebola, nodding disease.
Makerere has actively participated in some of these initiatives and will strive to work on making others such the Parish Development Model (PDM) work for Uganda’s poverty alleviation agenda through the PDM lab. Additional undertakings in line with open science have seen Makerere develop and disseminate new crop varieties to farmers to improve productivity.
Implementation of the AOSP
AICAD’s selection to host the Eastern Africa node was boosted by its proficiency in supporting a network of universities and institutions to reach communities with knowledge and technologies that are geared towards poverty reduction. AOSP will enable AICAD to scale up and improve these efforts. Makerere is making efforts to commercialise its innovations and where necessary, forging partnerships with various entities to undertake manufacturing, as is the case with Alfasan Uganda Limited for production of the anti-tick vaccine. Other initiatives include the partnership with UNDP Uganda to set up the Makerere Innovations Hub.
The NRF will initially fund the AOSP node for Eastern Africa. In order to ensure its future sustainability, the platform will have the capacity to raise funds from other sources .
Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda calls for full involvement of men and boys in achieving Gender Equality
The Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda Her Excellence Maria Håkansson has emphasized the need to fully engage men and boys in all the initiatives geared towards achieving Gender Equality in Uganda and other parts of the world. She said this on 28th November 2023 at a press conference organized by the Embassy of Sweden in close collaboration with Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to unveil the National Orange Pledge campaign and officially launch the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The press conference was headlined by a Ugandan rapper and record producer Daniel Lubwama Kigozi, popularly known by his stage name Navio and his fellow from Sweden Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu. Over 200 students both male and female from Makerere University and other institutions of higher learning attended the press conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds.
According to Her Excellence Maria Håkansson, Gender Equality cannot be achieved without involving men and boys to take their responsibilities and be the drivers of change. “For real change to happen, we need to change attitudes and norms that might cause Gender Based Violence, one of the social ills in Uganda and an extreme of gender inequality that occurs at all levels of society,” she said.
Referring to the national survey conducted in 2020, the Ambassador was concerned about the escalating burden of gender based violence in Uganda when she said, “the Survey highlighted that 95% of women and girls experience physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.”
She therefore emphasized the Global 16 Days of Activism as key international movement to increase awareness and advocate for an end to Gender Based Violence. The Ambassador also mentioned that preventing and responding to Gender Based Violence is a cornerstone for Sweden’s commitment to promote democracy, human rights and gender equality and this is done as an investment in a society that upholds the principles of equality, dignity and justice.
She acknowledged the full participation of university students in all campaigns and activities geared towards achieving gender equality as well as ending Gender Based Violence when she said, “You are the leaders of tomorrow and you have an opportunity to build a future where everyone can thrive. So please use today to take an active stand against Gender Based Violence.”
Every year Uganda joins the rest of the world to enhance the global campaigns on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and also add a voice to the call for an end to violence against women and girls. These campaigns run from 25th November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until 10th December of the Human Rights Day.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 initiative calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations to help end all types of violence against women and girls. This year 2023, the UNiTE campaign theme is; Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls.
Over the years, Makerere University through its Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and School of Women and Gender in partnership with UN Women and many other partners have been at the fore front to support the campaign on 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence in Uganda. This has been done through debates, theatre forums, student dialogues, thematic artistic presentations, media exposures, drama and music skits presentation, and student peer led discussions and quarterly competitions.
This year 2023, the University in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) unveiled the Orange Pledge. According to Eric Tumwesigye the Senior Gender Specialist at Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, this campaign calls upon government, policymakers, activists, civil societies, academicians, students and all members of community from all parts of the country to make their heartfelt pledges towards ending Gender Based Violence in Uganda and the rest of the world.
The UN Women Country Representative Paulina Chiwangu recognized the investment Makerere University, the Embassy of Sweden and UNFPA have made to end violence against women and girls. “Thanks to our collective efforts, the silence that used to shroud violence against women has now been broken” said.
In the same spirit, she acknowledged the progress Makerere University has made in establishing and implementation of the University’s Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment to protect students and staff from potential abuses of power and conflict of interest. She also applauded the increased support and training for students and the strengthened mechanisms for investigations that allow students and staff to anonymously report sexual misconduct.
“We are however, aware that despite this, sexual harassment is still happening in the university and that not many students report to the authorities when they experience it. It is therefore, our humble appeal to the university leadership to continue monitoring the implementation of the Policy and Regulations Against Sexual Harassment, take all allegations of sexual harassment and violence seriously, ensure that all personnel have information on available support services and take action to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.”
Reaffirming the University’s position in fighting GBV and particularly sexual harassment, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe was highlighted the various measures Makerere University has put in place to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence. To him, the Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment; the appointment and capacity building for the Vice Chancellor’s Roster of 100 eminent people from the various colleges and administrative units; recruitment and training of the Gender Mainstreaming Programme Student Peer Trainers and setting up Sexual Harassment Investigation Committees are bigger milestones to celebrate.
He appreciated the move by the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and all the partners to embrace entertainment and artistry as a critical advocacy and awareness tool to reach several communities especially the youth.
“We firmly believe in the transformative power of music and the arts in promoting social change. Music and art does serve as a powerful medium to advocate for the world free from violence especially violence against women,” said to Mr. Dainel Alemu, the UNFPA Deputy Country Representative.
“It is heartening to see artists like Navio taking a stand and using their influence to challenge harmful norms. As we revel in the beats and melodies, let us not forget he underlying message that everyone , regardless of gender, has a role to play in fostering a world where everyone is free from shackles of gender based violence,” he added.
Speaking at the Press Conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds, Navio said that for the 20 years he has been an activist of Gender Based Violence, he has faced the reality of many young girls and women in Uganda being victims of sex and physical abuse. He therefore sent a huge condemnation to men especially artists that who are perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and called for serious government action and clear policies and laws against such injustices.
Navio applauded the women and men who have stood tall over the years to fight against Gender Based Violence in Uganda when he said, “ As we launch the 16 days activism in Uganda and through these pledges we are making, let us be accountable for our actions. For long in our cultures, men have considered force and violence as power and protection. They have been tough to their children hence instilling fear to the extent that the children cannot freely interact with them on serious matters such as abuse and torture.”
He applauded all families that have adopted the new parenting model of free conversations and interaction hence encouraging children to freely open up whenever they have challenges. Navio also acknowledged the role of his mother Mrs Maggie Kigozi as a human rights activist and a champion in fighting against Gender Based Violence in Uganda.
Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu from Sweden appreciated the wider platform provided by the music industry globally for artists to act as role models and champion of change. The rapper highlighted the need to respect women for their roles and support towards community development.
“I am a son and it is extremely important for me to respect my mother and all women. Also being a father to a beautiful daughter, I am always eager and looking forward to seeing the best future for her. I want daught to grow up in the world where she is able to feel safe and be allowed to freely associate without being discriminated or threatened because of her gender,” he said.
Scholars & Alumni of Mastercard Foundation light up Achukudu Community, Napak District
By Bernard Buteera
On Saturday 2nd December 2023, all roads led to Achukudu Community Primary School in Napak District, Karamoja sub-region, as the Scholars and Alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University commemorated their Scholars’ Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback). The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service was held at Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District in the Karamoja sub-region. Established in 2013, Achukudu Community School serves two ethnic communities—The Iteso and Karamojong.
With a total population of 1,097 pupils only three government-paid teachers, and nine community-paid teachers, the School faces a plethora of challenges. Key among the challenges is the lack of Classrooms, decent Ventilated Pit Latrines, and Desks. Therefore when the Scholars identified the School as one that deserved to be given a gift of a classroom block, it was a befitting choice!
The Scholars with support from the alumni, the Program Team, Members of the Steering Committee, and partners of the Scholars Program at Makerere University intervened by constructing a two-classroom block, which was supervised by one of the alumni who is an Engineer. Alongside the classroom block, the Scholars also provided 40 desks, helping the school meet UNEB Center eligibility criteria.
While presiding over the event, the area member of Parliament, Hon. John Bosco Ngoya, thanked the Scholars and alumni community at Makerere University for supporting the young pupils of Achukudu Primary School and the entire community by gifting them with a two-classroom block.
“Thank you Scholars and alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University for the Christmas gift of a classroom block to the young people and the entire community of Achukudu. This classroom block will go a long way in improving the learning environment of the young children of Achukudu primary school.” Hon. Ngoya pointed out.
Hon. Ngoya called upon other people to emulate the Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation in embracing the spirit of giving back to the vulnerable people in the community. On his part, he donated One Million Five hundred shillings (1,500,000/=) to help the School purchase more desks, and he had earlier contributed One million shillings (1,000,000/=) towards the construction of the classroom block.
The District Education Officer (DEO) for Napak District, Ms. Joyce Nakoya, praised the Scholars Community for embracing and practicing the spirit of giving back to other people at an early age.
“Thank you Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation at Makerere for embracing the spirit of giving back to other people at such an early age. If all people gave back to the less privileged in our communities, we would have a better world for everyone.” Ms. Nakoya pointed out.
Ms. Nakoya further pointed out every child deserves to study in a decent environment, therefore it was a befitting cause for the Scholars to construct a classroom block for the young pupils of Achukudu community primary school, who were studying in open grass thatched classrooms.
The Program Manager of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, Ms. Jolly Okumu who led the team of Scholars, alumni, and staff to Karamoja thanked the community of Achukudu for supporting the Scholars to deliver the class block by contributing to the construction sand.
“We come here today to join with you as a community driven by a shared commitment to education, empowerment, and ethos of giving back. Today is a historic occasion as we celebrate the completion and commissioning of the classroom block, which is a remarkable testament to the transformative power of education and our unwavering spirit of community service.” Ms. Jolly remarked.
The President of the Scholars Association, Mr. Godfrey Okello, thanked all the Scholars and alumni, and all stakeholders who contributed to the construction of the classroom block, which was a dream that became a reality.
“I would like to thank my colleagues and people of goodwill who supported us to realize our dream of constructing this classroom for our young brothers and sisters of Achukudu Primary School. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our fellow young people in Uganda and Africa as a whole.” Mr. Okello remarked.
The Headteacher of the School, Mr. Eryebu Raymond, who was visibly very excited was full of praises for Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation, for what he termed as an iconic classroom block they had gifted to his School.
“This day is very special to us, we will not see this day again. We are delighted to receive the Scholars and alumni of Mastercard Foundation from Makerere University, thank you for considering supporting our School” Mr. Eryebu excitedly remarked.
The Headteacher revealed that one of the major challenges the school was facing was an acute shortage of classrooms for his 1,097 pupils. He was therefore grateful to Mastercard Foundation Scholars for choosing to construct a two-class block for the School.
“This donation of a classroom block and Desks is a testament to your commitment to education and empowering the lives of the vulnerable people in the community. This classroom block and desks will go a long way in improving the quality of teaching and learning at our school.” Mr. Eryebu further remarked.
The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback) was punctuated with a lot of joy, pomp, and fanfare, as the pupils and the entire community of Achukudu danced and ululated at the commissioning of the classroom block. The construction of the classroom block and purchase of desks for Achukudu Community Primary School was made possible by generous contributions by the Scholars, alumni, the Program Team, and members of the Steering Committee.
Among the Partners who made financial contributions towards the class block construction included; DFCU Bank, Post Bank, URA, Katumba Estates, Footsteps Furniture Ltd, and Sion Travels Ltd.
The Scholars and Alumni Day of Community Service (Give back) is an annual event, where Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation go out into the community to give back by providing solutions to challenges that a particular community is facing. Over the years Scholars have given back to the communities in numerous ways that range from offering professional services and erecting major projects like classroom blocks.
Bernard Buteera is the Communications and Public Relations Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.
Innovations using low cost locally available materials for point of use water treatment system unveiled
The College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) conducted a Research Dissemination of two studies aimed at the Development of Materials for point of use water treatment systems.
The investigations were conducted by a team of researchers comprised of P. W. Olupot, H. M. Kalibbala, E. Menya, G.M. Wangi, J. Jjagwe, J. Wakatuntu, M. Turyasingura, R. Walozi, C. Kanyesigye and R. N. Kulabako.
The dissemination event held on Wednesday 29th November 2023 follows the successful completion of two MakRIF supported Research projects namely; Development of rice husk based granular activated carbon for point-of-use water treatment systems and Development of zeolite-based nanocomposite filters for drinking water treatment.
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