August 14, 2023


Uganda Christian University Partnership

Uganda Christian University (UCU) Strengthens Collaborative Bonds through Partnership with St. Paul’s University

By Jimmy Siyasa

LIMURU, KENYA – August 14, 2023 – A significant milestone in the world of higher education was marked today as Uganda Christian University (UCU) and St. Paul’s University (SPU) came together to solidify their partnership through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The ceremonial event took place at SPU’s Main Campus in the serene town of Limuru, Kenya. Both institutions, rooted in their shared Church-based foundations, are poised to embark on a journey of mutual collaboration and growth.

What’s in the partnership?

The agreement encompasses a range of collaborative initiatives aimed at fostering educational enrichment and innovation. Spearheaded by the leadership of Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the Vice Chancellor of UCU, and backed by a team including Mr. Samson Wanambuko, the Senior Legal Officer, and Dr. Angella Napakol, the Head of Grants and Partnerships, UCU has extended its hand in partnership to SPU.

UCU and SPU sign partnership rotated e1692086554797

Among the key areas of cooperation outlined in the MoU are the exchange of faculty and students, collaborative research ventures, the external evaluation of postgraduate dissertations, and the exchange of best practices and innovations in teaching and learning.

Present at the signing ceremony were esteemed representatives from both institutions. Prof. Peter Ngure, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at SPU, extended a warm welcome to Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi. Alongside them were Rev. Truphie Sumba, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, and other prominent university officials from SPU.

In his address, Prof. Mushengyezi highlighted the importance of cultivating a strong partnership between UCU and SPU. He emphasised that the collaborative efforts envisioned under this MoU would not only enhance the academic experience for both institutions’ faculty and students but also contribute to the broader educational landscape.

To further solidify the newly forged partnership, Prof. Mushengyezi extended a cordial invitation to the SPU team to visit the Uganda Christian University campus. This gesture serves as a tangible step towards nurturing the relationship and exploring avenues for joint endeavours.

The partnership between UCU and SPU holds immense promise in fostering academic growth, interdisciplinary exploration, and the sharing of knowledge across diverse educational horizons. As the two institutions embark on this collaborative journey, they set a commendable example of the power of cooperative learning and the impact it can have on shaping the future of education.


UCU’s treatment plant turns waste water into treasure

By Kefa Senoga
Waste from water to flush toilets, take a shower and do laundry is not a waste at the main campus of Uganda Christian University (UCU).  It hasn’t been wasted in 17 years. It’s recycled and used to educate students, primarily those studying engineering. 

UCU constructed a $300,000 wastewater treatment plant in 2006. Two-thirds of the cost of the plant, the first of its kind for any institution in Uganda, was funded by the Diocese of Sidney’s Overseas Relief and Aid Fund of Australia.

About UCU’s treatment plant

The aeration chamber of the plant
The aeration chamber of the plant

Wastewater that is generated from various daily activities is toxic to both humans and the environment, hence the need to purify it, before it’s released into the environment. Wastewater is treated in 3 phases: primary (solid removal), secondary (bacterial decomposition), and tertiary (extra filtration).

According to Arnold Mugisha, a demonstrator at UCU’s department of Engineering and Environment under the Faculty of Engineering, Design and Technology, the wastewater treatment plant that was developed by Prof. Steven Riley, uses a biological process to treat the sewage and clean the water so that it is safe enough for disposal into the environment.

Mugisha says that the plant uses an activated biological sludge water treatment process, where microorganisms are used to break down the organic matter, which would otherwise be hazardous to the environment.

The plant has several sections, with the first having screens, where paper, pads and other similar waste are removed. The screened waste water then drops into the equalization chamber, from where the microorganisms break down the fecal matter. The water is then pumped into the aeration chamber, where more oxygen is supplied to the microorganisms, to enable them break down the waste completely.

A view of the wastewater treatment facility
A view of the wastewater treatment facility

“The waste is broken down by absorption, where the microorganisms eat the waste, and adsorption, where the organic waste sticks onto the body of the microorganisms,” Mugisha explains.

According to Mugisha, this is the most important step of the plant because that’s where most of the biological oxygen demand is reduced.

At the clarifier stage, solid particulates or suspended solids are removed from the liquid. At this point, the deposited sludge settles at the bottom and the clear water remains up, says Mugisha. The sludge is used for both manure and decomposition by anaerobic bacteria to produce biogas. At the time of installation, the plant was able to treat about 350 cubic meters of water per day.

Robert Muhumuza, a plumber, operating the facility
Robert Muhumuza, a plumber, operating the facility

At the chlorination chamber, chlorinated water is used to kill extra organisms that are still in the water. Mugisha says that if waste water is not treated properly, it can pollute water sources, cause illnesses and damage natural habitats. The treated wastewater is used for irrigating flowers, grass and plants in the university compound. People who would want to use the sludge for manure in their gardens are always granted permission to pick it from the facility.

Okot Innocent, a fresh UCU engineering graduate, says the facility provides a platform for engineering students to put their classroom knowledge into practice, learning in practical terms how the processes work. 

“Some of the students who want to become water engineers have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the equipment and the systems used in the treatment process,” Okot noted.

In Kampala, the Bugolobi wastewater treatment plant is the largest in the country and serves about four million people per day. The plant is capable of processing 45 million liters of waste daily.


UCU Arua campus hits 20-year milestone

By Pauline Luba
From a trade school to a lay readers training college and now part of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) family, the Arua campus has shown a marked growth in both enrollment and importance to the community in the northwestern part of Uganda. 

This year, the UCU Arua Campus marks 20 years of being part of the UCU family and 64 years of being a training institute. Before the campus was made a theological college and part of UCU in 2003, it was offering diploma and certificate courses in theology and also training Lay Readers in the region. However, in 1959 when it was established by the African Inland Mission under the leadership of its first principal, the Rev. Robert Booth, the institution was named the Rural Trade School.

When UCU took over the facility, it had four departments — Theology, Business Administration, Social Sciences and Education — all offering bachelor’s degrees.

Some of the achievements at UCU Arua campus

The facility also had 80 students and 27 staff. However, 20 years down the road, the four departments have still been maintained, but with an increase in student enrolment to over 650 and about 100 staff members.

UCU has since constructed a multipurpose hall, which also doubles as the University Chapel. Another building is the library and a block for lecture rooms to accommodate the increasing number of students. University education at the facility has been decentralized to train the much-needed human resource in the districts at more affordable rates.

In July, UCU Chancellor, who is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Uganda, the Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu visited the facility, located in northwestern part of Uganda, for the first time as its chancellor, during one of the campus’ activities to mark 20 years. 

UCU leadership, led by the Chancellor, His Grace Kaziimba Mugalu (center), at the celebrations in July
UCU leadership, led by the Chancellor, His Grace Kaziimba Mugalu (center), at the celebrations in July

UCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Assoc. Prof. John Kitayimbwa and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) David Mugawe, were among the team that went with Kaziimba to Arua. While welcoming Kaziimba, the UCU Arua Campus Director, the Rev. Julius Tabbi Izza, said that he was optimistic for future opportunities of development for the campus. 

He said the campus had become a home to a number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic due to their huge presence in the region. Last year, the campus won a regional award as the best higher institution of learning in West Nile for 2022. The criteria for selecting the awardees involved assessing their economic sustainability, operational effectiveness, level of technology adoption, progressive leadership and culture, as well as social and community contribution, commitment and perseverance. 

The campus, however, still faces a major challenge of threats on its land. Izza said that the about 100 acres that the facility sits on are under threat from some individuals in the community. Izza, therefore, asked for the process of transferring the land title from the particulars of the African Inland Mission to the trustees of the Church of Uganda or UCU to be expedited.

Among the plans in the pipeline is elevating the campus into a constituent college, a massive student recruitment strategy expected to garner 1,000 learners by next year, beautification of the environment and infrastructure, implementation of the multi-billion masters plan project, development of an endowment project and a staff recruitment plan as well. To achieve the intended plans, Izza argued that unity among the key stakeholders will be crucial.  

Jimmy Siyasa, the UCU Public Relations Officer, said there was hope that the Arua campus would morph into a fully-fledged college sooner than later. “In short, there is much to hope for,” Siyasa said. 


Why an advanced degree in nursing? Two UCU PhDs share

By Patty Huston-Holm
Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) two lecturers with PhDs in nursing have reasons for their academic journeys not unlike those acquiring advanced degrees in other career fields. The passion for learning often starts with an interest through role model observations followed by personal growth and then understanding and application of how additional knowledge and skill improve people, organizations and systems.  

This is especially true in health care, according to Dr. Elizabeth Namukombe Ekong and Dr. Faith Rosemary Sebuliba Kasumba. They hold a half dozen each of nursing credentials including master’s degrees from UCU and doctoral degrees from other countries. They teach students pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees under the UCU Faculty of Public Health, Nursing and Midwifery.  

Dr. Karen Drake of Bethel University, center, with UCU’s two lecturers with PhDs in nursing
Dr. Karen Drake of Bethel University, center, with UCU’s two lecturers with PhDs in nursing

“At the bachelor’s level, you are learning how you can improve yourself,” Elizabeth said. “At the master’s level, you enhance that while knowing more about policies and practices. With a PhD, you go deeper in questioning to solve problems, improve health, save more lives.”

Acquisition of these capabilities is especially critical for nurses and even more so for developing countries like Uganda.  The World Health Organization reports the 27.9 million nurses globally reflects a shortage of 13 million nurses. According to the World Bank, there are 1.6 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people in Uganda, compared to nearly 12 per 1,000 in the United States. 

On a July 31, 2023, morning when UCU nursing students were on a full break from classes or engaged in practical experiences, the university’s two nursing PhD holders shared their recollections about early experiences with health care that led them along their career paths. They elaborated on the value of advanced degrees in nursing. 

Faith and Elizabeth received their doctoral degrees from Texila American University (Guyana,  South America) and the University of Central Nicaragua, respectively.  Both are married to medical doctors.  Dr. Thomas Sebuliba has been the husband of Faith for 34 of his 37 years as a practicing physician; they have three children.  Elizabeth likewise has three children with Dr. Ekong Joseph, who has been a doctor for 18 of their 24 years of marriage. The husbands had some influence on the wives’ advancement in nursing but not all, especially at the onset.  

What inspired two of UCU’s lecturers

For Faith, her health care interest can be pinpointed to an injured ear at age five when living in the Fort Portal, western Uganda region.  

“I pricked my ear,” she recalled of how she tried to imitate adults cleaning their ears with match sticks. “My siblings and I dared each other to see who could go the deepest, and I won.”

The damage put Faith in a hospital, now known as Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, for two months. During a series of surgeries leading to full recovery, she was surrounded by caring, nurturing nurses. It was them as well as a “retired nursing officer” cousin who started her direction to become a nurse. 

On the opposite side of the country, Elizabeth was likewise young and watching happenings around a health facility in eastern Uganda’s Kamuli District. 

“I was fascinated to see people go in a place sick and come out well,” she said. “I was surprised that somebody could identify your problem and help you get better…By the time I  was in secondary school, I was looking for a profession where I could do that.” 

When considering higher education options and given the choice between being a doctor or nurse, Elizabeth and Faith chose nursing that would allow them closer contact with patients. While their education journeys after high school are roughly eight years apart, both Elizabeth and Faith started out as midwives – an occupation in 2023 that, according to the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council chaired by Elizabeth, is occupied by around 70,000 men and women. 

“To smile at a baby was pure joy,” Elizabeth said of her midwifery practice at Mulago. “I’m still passionate about newborns and identifying and helping mothers at risk.” 

While helping mothers deliver their babies, Elizabeth and Faith worked at deepening their health care knowledge with the growing realization of the need to pass on what they learned. They began to understand the value in stretching the knowledge and curiosity of the next generation of nurses in their country.

“Until 1993, nurses were only at the diploma level here,” Faith said. That year, she recalled, Makerere University started a bachelor of nursing program that interested her but she couldn’t begin because of child rearing responsibilities while her husband was getting surgical training in Zimbabwe. She got a couple more diplomas before getting her bachelor’s degree at UCU in 2007. 

Elizabeth, who got her UCU Bachelor of Nursing Science in 2008, also started to see the importance of teaching others while continuing her own learning. Like Faith, she worked her way up from tutor to lecturer. As teachers, they share both the academic and practical sides of nursing. 

“I’ve seen a critically ill person, not able to talk or open the eyes and then functioning after treatment,” Elizabeth said. “As I am enlightened with deeper understanding and ownership, I pass that on  to students.”

Faith and Elizabeth cite Dr. Karen Drake, emeritus professor of nursing, Bethel University (St. Paul, Minn.), as their mentor. Karen, who holds a PhD in educational policy and administration, has been a practising nurse since 1968, including at the side of her late husband in East Africa; as well as a nurse educator at UCU for more than a decade.  

The difference among bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees is primarily critical thinking and problem solving, according to the two UCU nursing doctoral holders.  Those with undergraduate degrees are primarily applying what they have been told while those with advanced degrees are more likely to keep questioning. 

“Many times, people say the PhD is for the sake of self-actualization,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t see it that way.  I see it about more help for the patient, better services, improved policies and processes.” 

For Faith, her advanced degree has reinforced the “importance of collaboration for change” with increased confidence and a “spirit of inquiry.” One area in need of louder,  more informed voices is  mental health that is “highly stigmatized” in an ill-informed East African culture that may label mentally ill people as “possessed,” she said. 

In addition to what their advanced degrees offer for their students, Faith and Elizabeth are frequently at the table for policy and research discussions and conference presentations. Topics have included early postnatal care improvements, work-based learning, menstrual hygiene among adolescents and technology learning and application.

“We need to have nurse leaders at various levels,” Elizabeth said. 

In addition to their on-paper credentials and reputations as esteemed lecturers and nurse practitioners, Christian walk is critical to UCU’s two PhD holders. 

“God has called me to do this,” Elizabeth said. “My model is Jesus Christ.”

“It’s a calling,” Faith concurred, admitting that she initially didn’t want to teach but a higher power nudged her there. “When I feel almost like giving up, I know who is my strength. God is my strong foundation.”