Irene Nyapendi



Dr. Ayot researches on fighting domestic violence to empower women

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Dr. Gladys Ayot Oyat’s inspiration to pursue a PhD in Education Administration and Management at Uganda Christian University (UCU) is rooted in her passion for addressing real-world challenges. Her commitment to women’s issues served as a driving force in choosing a research topic focused on the domestic violence impact on female teachers in Uganda.

Ayot’s research explores how domestic violence affects the teaching and administrative roles of female teachers working in secondary schools in Kitgum, northern Uganda. 

Dr. Gladys Ayot Oyat, a former member of the governing council of Uganda Christian University, graduated with a PhD in Education Administration and Management on October 13.
Dr. Gladys Ayot Oyat, a former member of the governing council of Uganda Christian University, graduated with a PhD in Education Administration and Management on October 13.

Her study found that domestic violence adversely affects teaching roles, leading to poor service delivery, absenteeism, missed lessons, poor preparation, low self-esteem and mental health issues. This likewise negatively impacts women in administrative roles, resulting in reduced work, interpersonal relationships, learning outputs and mentorship. Female teachers employ various coping mechanisms, both informal and formal, but some strategies prove counterproductive. Support for victims is insufficient, hindering their ability to manage these challenges effectively.

Ayot found that the patriarchal nature of Ugandan society determines relationships between men and women irrespective of educational status.

 “A lot needs to be done to address this challenge,” she said. “It undermines the laws we have in Uganda entrenched in our Constitution. My disappointment is that even women who are enlightened and educated, conceal what they go through in the name of protecting their marriage, adhering to culture and wanting to remain as role models to the students they teach when they are exposed to domestic violence. Worse still, taking the pain in silence and blaming themselves for the dysfunctional families.”

One moving story she encountered in her research involved a husband forcing his wife to have an abortion. 

 “This caused post-traumatic symptoms and depression,” Ayot said. “She would (imagine) the crying baby sitting on her lap and crying for help while she was in class teaching.”

With the dissemination of her findings, Ayot aims to encourage female teachers to be open to talking about the problems they go through and seeks for school administrators to support and create favorable conditions for women suffering from domestic violence.

Ayot, who was a member of the governing council of UCU, did her PhD on a modular course, which allowed her to study during the holidays.

Dr. Ayot’s Heartfelt Gratitude to UCU for Remarkable PhD Achievement

She lauded UCU’s academic environment for its unique and supportive characteristics. The university’s modular approach, small class sizes, and strong faculty-student relationships fostered an atmosphere of shared learning and collaboration.

“I thank God that I chose UCU. My supervisor was very supportive; for example, during the Covid-19 pandemic time, he always called to follow up and give me support,” she said. “At the time when public places such as universities were closed as a way of curbing the spread of disease, I utilized the online university library.”

Ayot acknowledged the hectic and difficult journey to a PhD — long hours, rejection of proposals, and balancing social and work responsibilities. 

“I was a wife and head teacher of Kitgum YY Okot Memorial College (2002-2022),” she said. “I had social responsibilities that I couldn’t ignore. At some point, I wanted to give up; for example, when I was working on chapter three of my research and my supervisor kept on asking me to redo it.”

However, her unwavering determination and support from her family, particularly her husband, who purchased grammar editing software for her, became pillars of strength.

Ayot said that being 61 years old also motivated her, knowing that she didn’t have as much time as the younger students.

 “I told myself that I am not the type who should spend 10 years doing research. I wanted to do it and finish,” she said.

She is married to Dr. Michael Oyat with whom they have four children. She has served in the church as chairperson mothers union and is currently a lay Canon at Kitgum diocese. She studied a Bachelor and Masters in Education at Makerere University. She has served as Vice President, Mothers Union for the Province of Church of Uganda. 


Top student abandoned scholarship at public university for UCU

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Precious Claire Ninsiima, 22,  is the best student graduate from the October 13, 2023, ceremony. The Bachelor of Business Administration student could have joined a public university, where she was offered a scholarship, but didn’t. Her mother chose Uganda Christian University (UCU) because of its moral principles and image as a Christ-centered institution. 

“My mother saw that it was important for me to study at UCU because of its values,” Ninsiima said. “She believed those values would prepare me for the outside world so that no matter what I found after school, I would know how to navigate.”

Of the 986 graduates on the UCU main campus celebration in Mukono, 459 were males and 527 females. The graduation included graduates from UCU’s constituent colleges of Kampala and Arua campuses. Ninsiima starred among the 33 – 20 female, 13 male – who got first-class degrees. Ninsiima, who studied at the Kampala campus, shone as the overall best student with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 4.78. She was also separately awarded as best female student and best arts student. 

Ninsiima shakes hands with retired archbishop Henry Luke Orombi after picking up her award. In the center is Church of Uganda Archbishop and UCU Chancellor Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu. At left is Ass. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the UCU vice chancellor.
Ninsiima shakes hands with retired archbishop Henry Luke Orombi after picking up her award. In the center is Church of Uganda Archbishop and UCU Chancellor Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu. At left is Ass. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the UCU vice chancellor.

Gilbert Afema was the best male student with a CGPA of 4.60 in a Bachelor of Divinity. Martin Juuko was recognized as the top science student for scoring a CGPA of 4.50 in Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

To Ninsiima, the accolades served as proof to her that she has the ability to excel in any endeavor she chooses to pursue as long as she approaches it with determination and effort.

 “It feels good knowing that I was the overall best student,” she said. “It also shows me that I have the potential to do well. I now know that if I put my mind to anything, I can excel at it.”

She commended UCU for instilling merits such as integrity and Christ-centeredness in students. She firmly believes that by embracing these values, students can become better individuals.

“I appreciate UCU’s culture of Christianity,” Ninsiima said. “I didn’t think that there would be an institution where you have something like community worship. This helped me carry on with my spirituality.”

Ninsiima’s life at UCU: Balancing Books and Leadership

Ninsiima juggled her books with leadership. She was the deputy finance minister at Kampala campus, class representative and chairperson of Class Representatives Association. She said it was tough to balance books and leadership, but because she was an evening student (studying from 5 to 9 p.m.), she managed fairly well.

“Regardless of how tough it got, I had it at the back of my mind that my education was a priority. So, I made sure that my academics didn’t suffer at the cost of leadership” she said. “When it was time for class, I would prioritize that.”

UCU’s impact on her went beyond academics to co-curricular activities such as sports and community outreach. These experiences allowed her to engage with the community and provide valuable service. 

“In 2022, I participated in a sports gala which gave me a chance to interact with other students at the university,” Ninsiima said. “It also built team spirit within us at the School of Business as we worked towards one goal to win.”

Her memorable experiences include an outreach to a Kampala slum, where she helped to clean the environment, encouraged people to donate blood and taught residents how to make reusable sanitary towels.

With ambitions to excel in her career, she envisions entering fields such as financial consultancy, financial analysis or auditing, among others. Her passion for business stems from its potential for growth and financial freedom. 

“With formal employment, you can only grow as much as your employer wants you to; at each point you have to ask for more salary or wait to get promoted, while with business, if you establish a good brand, and keep working hard, you are able to grow and have financial freedom,” Ninsiima quipped.


Exploring the Citations of UCU’s 2023 PhD Graduates

Uganda Christian University (UCU) celebrated a significant milestone by awarding doctoral degrees to five graduates on October 13 during the second part of the 24th graduation ceremony.

Wasswa Asaph Senoga, Doctor of Philosophy in Theology

Dr. Wasswa Asaph Senoga

Thesis Title: Financial Control Practices in the Selected Church of the Province of Uganda Dioceses of Central Buganda

Rev. Wasswa Asaph Senoga examined the subject of financial control practices in the Church of Uganda. He found out that apart from seeking the spiritual welfare of her members, the Church of the Province of Uganda has contributed significantly towards the country’s development by providing social services.

God has entrusted the Dioceses of the Church of the Province of Uganda with a lot of financial resources, but poor, or lack of proper internal control systems lead to a scarcity of funds to carry out their missionary work. Using the fraud diamond theory, the findings demonstrate that the Church of the Province of Uganda can greatly improve its internal control system with regard to establishing segregation of duties, recording of financial transactions, and authorizing the disbursement of funds.

This study provides a better understanding of the effective ways of carrying out financial controls in the dioceses. His argument is that effective Mission Dei and the Mission of the Church depend on good and stable financial practices.

Wasswa was supervised by Rev. Canon Prof. Christopher Byaruhanga and Rt. Rev. Dr. Joel Obetia.

Wankuma Abel Kibbedi, Doctor of Philosophy in Literature

Thesis Title: A Shift in Narrative Styles: Exploring the Works of Timothy Wangusa and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

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Dr. Wankuma Abel Kibbedi

Rev. Wankuma Abel Kibbedi’s thesis focuses on Timothy Wangusa and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s fictive prose works. He examines how these Ugandan writers employ narrative styles to demonstrate a significant shift from traditional styles that focus on Europe to African-infused methods of storytelling.

He establishes that by weaving African Oral communication into the genre while addressing contemporary issues, the two authors transform their narrative styles.

He extends his research to inspire writers and researchers to venture into unfamiliar territories that can be found in the limitless possibilities of human creativity in the realm of narrative technique and the art of storytelling.

Wakuma was supervised by Prof. Timothy Wangusa and Prof. Danson Kahyana.

Gladys Ayot, Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration and Management

Thesis Title: Domestic Violence and Teachers’ Performance in Uganda: Interrogating Female Teachers’ Experiences in Secondary Schools in Kitgum District.

Dr. Gladys Ayot

Dr. Gladys Ayot interrogated the experiences of female teachers at Secondary schools in Kitgum district and focused on how domestic violence impacts their teaching and administrative roles. She explored the coping mechanisms and the support available in schools.

Her study established that domestic violence unfavorably impacts female teachers’ delivery and interpersonal relations. Her findings indicate that female teachers who are victims of domestic violence negotiate through associated challenges using both formal and informal structures but with limited support.

She recommends a mainstreamed supportive policy framework and tools for empowering female teachers and head teachers to reduce the adverse effects of domestic violence on teachers.

Ayot was supervised by Dr. Wilson Eduan and Dr. Mary Ocheng Kagoire.

Faith Mbabazi, Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration and Management

Thesis Title: Role Conflict and Burnout of Administrators in Selected Higher Educational Institutions in Uganda.

Dr. Faith Mbabazi’s thesis examines the relationship between multiple roles and burnout for administrators in Higher Education Institution in Uganda. The study suggests a link between role conflict and burnout of administrators, particularly emotional exhaustion. She established that administrators experience various role conflicts in their day-to-day activities.

Dr. Faith Mbabazi

The study contributes to the growing interest in investigating influences of role conflict on burnout of employees in Higher Education Institutions. She recommends that mangers of Higher Education Institutions need to take interest in the mental health of staff and provide them with training in burnout management competencies.

She also recommends the creation of a more conducive environment and to carry out burnout tests for early detection of burnout symptoms for intervention to avoid adverse effects.

Mbabazi was supervised by Dr. Wilson Eduan and Dr. Mary Ocheng Kagoire.

UCU David Sengendo, Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration and Management

Thesis Title: Transformational Leadership and Academic Performance of Secondary Schools in Uganda

Dr. David Sengendo’s research explored the influence of transformational leadership on the academic performance of Head teachers in Ugandan Secondary Schools. His study found out that transformational leadership attributes play a crucial role in determining Head teachers’ performance in Secondary schools.

Dr. David Sengendo

The findings of this study will benefit education policymakers and implementers at all levels because it provides insights into the leadership attributes that effective leaders in secondary schools can employ and how these attributes impact academic performance therein.

He recommends training service frameworks that offer effective leadership and management skills to especially Secondary School leaders in Uganda.

Sengendo was supervised by Dr. Wilson Eduan and Dr. Benon Musinguzi.


UCU holds 24th graduation ceremony

By Pauline Luba

Christiana Ampeire was at one time mocked for scoring low grades at school. Among the people who mocked her for what they considered poor performance, she says, was one of her teachers in secondary school. 

Graduands prepare to receive their awards.
Graduands prepare to receive their awards.

Such conduct towards Ampeire forced her to reset her mind with every sunset. Luckily for her, the tide changed in her favor. And on October 13, 2023, she had a plaque to show for that. The plaque was a gift for academic excellence. 

“Here I am with a First Class Degree, and I feel good,” Ampeire, a fresh graduate of Uganda Christian University, said. She was among the 33 students who graduated with a First Class at UCU’s 24th graduation ceremony held at the Main Campus on October 13. At UCU, every student who achieves a First-Class degree is awarded with an academic achievement plaque. 

Ampeire received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication at the ceremony where 986 students graduated. Fifty-four percent of the graduates, drawn from the Main and Arua Campuses, including some of the affiliate institutions,  were female students. 

Some students who received Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Some students who received Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication.

At the ceremony, Precious Claire Ninsiima, a graduate of Bachelor of Business Administration, was announced the overall best student, and also the best arts student, scoring a Grade Point Average of 4.78 of 5.0. Gilbert Afema was the best male student. Afema, who graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity, had a Grade Point Average of 4.60 of 5.0. Martin Juuko took home the award for best science student, garnering a Grade Point Average of 4.50 of 5.0 in Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Ninsiima said she had initially been admitted to Makerere University to pursue a degree course in international business under government sponsorship. However, the allure of the orderliness and the virtues that the alums of UCU espouse were too strong for Ninsiima’s mother to ignore. She thus relocated her daughter to UCU, so she could tap into the values that come with studying at the university.

“My mother suggested I join UCU because of its values and its image as a Christ-centered institution,” Ninsiima said.

The Dean of the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Prof. Monica Chibita, reads names of the graduates.
The Dean of the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Prof. Monica Chibita, reads names of the graduates.

However, UCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi reminded the graduates that the values they had acquired at the university need to be nurtured “because it’s what sets you apart as a UCU graduate. UCU is well-known for our value-based education.” 

The Rt. Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, the day’s chief guest and former Archbishop of the Anglican Church, who is also a former chancellor of UCU, urged the graduates to be willing and ready to use the values they had learned to serve humanity.

“True service will promote your name. Be willing and ready to serve. You don’t have to bribe your way to a position. Faithful service wins the approval of heaven and it’s heaven that promotes,” Orombi said. He encouraged the graduates, who included five UCU staff who graduated with PhDs, to pursue their destiny with ambition and prove themselves as trustworthy workers. 

Ampeire Christiana after receiving a first-class degree.
Ampeire Christiana after receiving a first-class degree.

Getting doctoral degrees from UCU were the following faculty members: Rev. Dr. Abel Wankuma Kibbedi, who completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Literature; and Dr. Faith Mbabazi Musinguzi, Dr. Gladys Ayot Oyat, and Dr. David Sengendo, all acquiring a PhD in Education Administration and Management. Dr. Arthur Nuwagaba of the School of Business was awarded a PhD in Business and Administration from the University of Nairobi.  

Enumerating some of the recent achievements at the university, Mushengyezi mentioned the six newly accredited PhD programs at the university, inviting people to take up the opportunities to further their academic pursuits. The newly accredited programs are PhD in Journalism, Media and Communication; Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies; Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration; Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (reassessment); and Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Philosophy in Literature.

UCU Chancellor urges graduates to tap into the power of social media

Chancellor and Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most. Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba, and the guest of honor, the Rt. Rev. Henry Luke Orombi at the October graduation ceremony.
Chancellor and Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most. Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba, and the guest of honor, the Rt. Rev. Henry Luke Orombi at the October graduation ceremony.

UCU Chancellor His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, encouraged the graduates to apply the knowledge they have acquired to be change makers.

“I encourage you to embrace your roles as potential job creators and innovators. Be bold, take risks, and pursue your passions with self-discipline and trust in God to lead you,” Mugalu said.

He urged the graduates to tap into the power of social media to connect people, bridge gaps, and amplify voices. However, he warned about the potential of social media to promote division, cause misinformation, negativity and biases.

For the second time, Uganda Partners, in partnership with the UCU Department of Communications and Public Relations, produced an annual newspaper, the Ebenezer that was distributed to some guests at the graduation ceremony. The online edition can be found here


Former UCU Chancellor Orombi calls for more servant leaders

By Pauline Luba
On October 11, 2023, former Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Rt.  Rev. Henry Luke Orombi celebrated his 74th birthday. To mark this day, Orombi cut a specially made, three-tiered cake at the Uganda Christian University’s Nkoyoyo Hall, a structure named after his predecessor in the Church of Uganda leadership, Archbishop Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo.

However, the main reason for Orombi’s presence at UCU that day was not to celebrate his birthday. In fact, the cake was a surprise to him, since he had already celebrated the birthday a day earlier, owing to the fact that he had a commitment on his birthday. Orombi was at UCU to deliver this year’s keynote address at the university’s Annual Public Lecture that is always held two days before the October graduation ceremony.  

UCU’s Call for Servant Leadership

UCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi presents a gift to Orombi after the latter delivered a public lecture at UCU on October 11.
UCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi presents a gift to Orombi after the latter delivered a public lecture at UCU on October 11.

Under the theme “Servant Leadership,” Orombi spent the sunny afternoon attempting to convince the leaders in the fully-packed Nkoyoyo Hall on why the positions they hold at their workplaces and elsewhere demand more service from them than entitlement. He said just like the church, Uganda needs more leaders who are able to impact those they lead than leaders who care more about “boastful” lives.

The concept of servant leadership is one aspect of management that is rare to find. It is premised on the belief that as a leader, your first and foremost goal is to serve the people you lead, and then you can aspire to lead them. This is in contrast to the age-old practice of traditional leadership, which is about exercising one’s power assumed from the authority bestowed on them as a result of the leadership position they hold. 

“When you meet some of the leaders and you try to introduce them as Mr., they correct you, saying, ‘I am Hon.’,” Orombi noted, indicating that some leaders are more concerned about the titles than the responsibility that the positions bring.

Orombi delivers his keynote address during the Annual UCU Public Lecture 2023.
Orombi delivers his keynote address during the Annual UCU Public Lecture 2023.

“But titles go with responsibilities,” the bespectacled Orombi said. “The higher you go in leadership, the more responsibilities you have. You come under more intense scrutiny, wherever you go and in whatever you do.”

Part of the members of the audience were UCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi and his two deputies — the Rev. Assoc. Prof. John Kitayimbwa and Mr. David Mugawe. Also in attendance was former Vice Chancellor, the Rev. Canon. Dr. John Senyonyi, and H.E Tania Perez, the Cuban Ambassador to Uganda. 

Just as was expected of a former archbishop, Orombi, the Chancellor of UCU from 2004 to 2012, spent a considerable time during his lecture, drawing lessons from the Bible to enrich his lecture.  

H.E Tania Perez, the Cuban Ambassador to Uganda, with VC  Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi
H.E Tania Perez, the Cuban Ambassador to Uganda, with VC Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi

“When Jesus walked the earth as God-man, he was fully God, so he had a lot of power,” Orombi, currently the Chancellor of Muni University in Uganda. said. “But, he did not use it. If He did, only slightly. Such should be the case with servant leaders.” 

He called on servant leaders to use the positions they have to mentor people, especially the younger ones, drawing lessons from the life of Jesus, who he said came to serve, and not to be served and that that is the kind of servant leaders “we are meant to be.”

The Rev. Prof. Dr. Samuel Luboga, the chairperson of the Uganda’s Education Service Commission, who was the discussant at the public lecture, concurred with Orombi, noting: “Unless we become servant leaders, we cannot hope to serve efficiently the people before us, let alone accomplish the great commission of Jesus Christ.”


SoM writers’ association drives students towards scientific writing

By Kefa Senoga
As a medical writer, one needs to be familiar with healthcare concepts, to be able to decode and present research data, as well as have the abilities to edit and meet the requirements for publishing. As the President of the Writers’ Society at Uganda Christian University (UCU)  School of Medicine (SoM), Namayanja Christabel is fully aware of this. 

The fifth-year medical student at UCU’s SoM notes that medicine and writing go hand in hand. 

“If you really want to be a doctor of international repute, one way of getting known is through publishing papers, writing articles in journals and other platforms,” she said.

One of Namayanja’s duties as the Writers’ Society president is to inspire students to think about scientific writing, as well as facilitating connections with professionals and organizations involved in clinical research and clinical content publication.

Efforts like these have made entities like the International Journal of Clinical Research (IJCR) express interest in working with the writers’ team, raising hopes for potential future projects. According to the IJCR website, the journal “publishes high-quality, open-access, peer-reviewed articles, and interactive clinical content for physicians, educators, and the global medical community.”

When most students join the SoM writers’ association, their initial thinking, which was much the thinking of some of the association’s original torch bearers, is to focus on creative writing. However, the school has often encouraged them to participate in science writing, as it aligns more closely with their field of study.

Namayanja Christabel, the UCU SoM writers’ association president
Namayanja Christabel, the UCU SoM writers’ association president

And to do that, they constantly need coaching and mentorship from the field’s tried and tested professionals. Patty Hustom-Holm, the Communications Director at Uganda Partners, is one such mentor. Namayanja attributes the improvement in their recently published newsletter to Huston’s invaluable feedback and advice during an online meeting after reviewing one of their earlier newsletters. 

Each member of the UCU SoM writers’ association pays sh50,000 ($13.20) per year as membership fees. The money is used for meeting administrative costs of the association and producing a newsletter every semester.

UCU SoM Writers’ Association: Balancing Passion for Writing and Intensive School Programs

According to Namayanja, the association members could have engaged in more activities related to writing had it not been for their current rigorous school programs. In year five, the students are more engrossed in intense clinical practice, in addition to theoretical work, which requires long hours of study, justifying that some of them belong to the association purely out of passion.

Namayanja is known for her ardent interest in writing. At Gayaza High School located in central Uganda, where she had her secondary education, Namayanja espoused skills in writing, reading and social interaction, with the latter getting reinforced as she served in different capacities as a student leader in the school. She was at one time the editor-in-chief of the school’s writers’ club. 

The experience she garnered in the writers’ club at Gayaza are credited for her leadership ladder climb at the UCU SoM writers’ association. And she does not hope to have her passion end at school. Namayanja aspires to be more than a practicing clinician, with a career in writing, alongside her medical profession.


UCU agriculture alum shifts career to prison services

By Pauline Luba
On July 5, 2019, Opinira Ovua Joshua was among the 1,234 people who walked out of the gates of Uganda Christian University (UCU) in a graduation gown, ready to join the world of work. Opinira’s five-year journey yielded a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship.

However, it was not until four years later that the 29-year-old secured formal employment. October 2, 2023, was his first day as a Prisons General Duties Officer in the Uganda Prisons Service. Prison officers oversee the safety and security of an inmate. They transfer prisoners to and from prison, including apprehending those who escape from lawful custody. They also are responsible for the welfare of the inmates.

Opinira, the third born of five children, first went to the Prisons offices to drop his application letters for the positions of Prisons Agricultural Officer and Prisons General Duties Officer. He was successful in the latter position, which he accepted since he did not have another job at the time. For now, he serves in the northern Uganda district of Kitgum.

Opinira’s father, Ovua Shem, is a teacher while his mother, Alezuyo Janet Ovua, is a housewife. Opinira says his parents impacted him by pushing him to stay in school, work hard and stay humble. The latter attribute relates to his humility in serving men in prison. 

Opinira says coming from a farm family in Arua district in northern Uganda made him easily appreciate the value of a profession in agriculture. The love for the career, he says, was the driving force behind his excellent performance in the subject throughout secondary school. He studied agriculture as a subject in both O-and A’level at Mvara Secondary School in northern Uganda.

“I wanted to be a plant breeder,” he said.

And that aspiration has not yet evaporated. Even as a general duties officer in the Prisons, he hopes to set up his own agricultural enterprise, so he puts into practice some of the knowledge he acquired in the classroom.

UCU as the Perfect Place for Opinira

Opinira was attracted to UCU because his brother graduated from there.

Having grown up in a church setting, Opinira was convinced by his elder brother’s stories that UCU was the perfect place for him to achieve his career, grow his faith and ministry, and expand his talent in music. UCU provided fertile ground for Opinira’s love for music as from the time he joined UCU in 2014 to when he left, he was a member of the university’s choir, The Mustard Seed Worship Team. In the five years, he held different positions in the choir, including as chairperson and music director.

As the chairperson of the choir, part of Opinira’s work was leading Sunday and midweek services, which attracted congregations of 400-500 people. He was also in charge of handling the administrative duties of the choir. As the Music Director, a position he held from 2016-2017, Opinira oversaw the planning of music in line with the scripture messages, as well as teaching songs to choir members, who numbered up to 50 people.


UCU launches waste harvest and biogas production plant

By Kefa Senoga
Uganda Christian University (UCU) has launched one of its latest innovations that will see the institution turn much of its waste into wealth. While launching the waste harvesting and biogas production plant at the UCU main campus in Mukono early September, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, said he had, indeed, come to believe that waste can be gold.

Mushengyezi’s remarks came after watching a demonstration where waste from the UCU kitchen, fecal matter and cow dung is mixed to produce biogas that can be used for cooking. The biogas production plant was a collaborative venture between UCU’s Faculty of Engineering, Design and Technology and PSEM Africa, an engineering company.

Ucha David, renewable energy engineer at PSEM Africa, demonstrates the waste harvesting process to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi.
Ucha David, renewable energy engineer at PSEM Africa, demonstrates the waste harvesting process to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi.

Moses Nuwaha, the projects manager at PSEM Africa, highlighted their experience in constructing biogas digesters, with a history of continuous refinement and development. He said even if they have handed over the project to the university, their participation and partnership should continue as they are looking forward to working with the research team to improve the innovation.

Ucha David, the renewable energy engineer at PSEM Africa, who conducted a demonstration of the biogas production, explained that they combine fecal matter, cow dung and food waste to create a diverse feedstock, ensuring a balanced nutrient composition, to be able to generate gas. 

Waste is collected from the treatment plant and transported through pipelines to the holding tank. Ucha explained that given that the biogas plant is a prototype, they are currently pumping only one cubic meter of waste per hour, even though the pump has the capacity to handle 20 cubic meters.

Ucha explaining to the UCU officials at the waste treatment plant.
Ucha explaining to the UCU officials at the waste treatment plant.

According to Ucha, the biogas plant does not only rely on fecal solid and liquid septic waste. They combine cow dung and food waste into the mix to utilize all the resources. He emphasizes that relying only on facal waste would not yield enough gas.

Waste from cooked food is crushed into a homogenous mixture — to the same level like cow dung, Ucha explained. He noted that waste from raw food, such as banana peelings, is not effective for the process.

After obtaining the gas, it is stored in gas bags, which are then transported to the kitchen for use. He adds that a full gas bag of two cubic meters is sufficient for two days of kitchen use.

Dr. Miria Agunyo, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Design and Technology, said their next research will address the packaging of the gas. He said one of the gas bags was accidentally damaged by a stone in the kitchen. In industrial settings, gas is stored and transported in cylinders.

Harry Oryema Langalanga, the chairperson of the Uganda National Biogas Alliance, encouraged the Faculty of Engineering, Design and Technology, which is in charge of the plant, to consider acquiring a solid-liquid separator to enable more efficient utilization of the nutrients found in the digestate. The liquid portion, rich in nutrients, can serve as liquid fertilizer, while the solid part can be subject to further processing or employed as solid fertilizer.

The Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Design and Technology, Dr. Miria Agunyo (wearing overalls), briefs officials about the facility.
The Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Design and Technology, Dr. Miria Agunyo (wearing overalls), briefs officials about the facility.

Prof. Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito, the Director of Research, Partnerships and Innovations at UCU, said her directorate would extend support for the expansion and growth of the project. She appealed to Mushengyezi to consider recruiting more technicians to the different science departments at the university. 

Eng. David Kivumbi, the Director of Facilities and Capital Projects at UCU, noted that whatever can be recovered or transformed from waste needs to be harnessed because resources have become limited. He urged the community to engage in research that benefits the community. 

Mushengyezi suggested that, perhaps, in future, the university can think of transporting the gas through pipes. He said should the project become more beneficial, the funds previously spent on buying firewood and charcoal could be redirected into supporting the plant.


UIS director shares UCU technology advancement plan

By Pauline Luba
Whereas the Covid-19 pandemic made technology a cornerstone in the operations of many institutions, for Uganda Christian University (UCU), the virus and education lockdown afforded an opportunity to ramp up its use. And there is no looking back. 

Rebecca Kangabe and the team she leads at the UCU ICT Services Directorate have set up an ambitious 10-year plan that is expected to see the university become a data-driven institution using artificial intelligence to predict the necessary resources and drive decisions made by management. 

The move by Kangabe and her team come on the backdrop of UCU ramping up online learning after the Covid pandemic affected physical operations. Kangabe says online learning operations at UCU moved from 30% to 80%. For this move, UCU warmed the hearts of many e-learning lovers, with Janet Kainembabazi Museveni, Uganda’s First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, acknowledging the university for the strides it had made in virtual infrastructure. 

During a speech at the October 22, 2021, UCU graduation, Mrs. Museveni noted that the institution has a “robust online education program” and encouraged the facility to “share best practices with other institutions.” 

UCU established a Learning Management System, known as the UCU eLearning platform in 2014, to prepare for an information technology-driven academic landscape. Assessed and approved by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), the regulators of higher education in Uganda, UCU eLearning platform’s capacity to host students connecting from all over the continent and beyond has since increased.

Students can attend classes online, access reading materials, do assignments and submit coursework/examinations. Likewise, lecturers can teach in real time, record lectures, upload course materials (video, audio and text) and administer examinations.

In 2021, UCU was named best exhibitor in a fair organized by NCHE, where institutions exhibited their e-learning services that reflected the programs taught and their capacity to admit and facilitate learning for students. They also displayed the technological innovations to overcome the challenges caused by Covid-19.

The university also partnered with the Research and Education Networks for Uganda, a not-for-profit National Research and Education Network, for free student access to the learning management system called Moodle. Lecturers also were trained in how to conduct online classes. 

Expanding Technological Infrastructure and Initiatives at UCU

Kangabe, who has been the UIS director since July 2022, says UCU spent over sh1.6 billion (about $425,000) on new equipment such as servers, HVC systems for the servers, increased internet bandwidth and new software for student management. It is infrastructure like these that UIS wants to take advantage of to help improve technological operations at UCU. For instance, according to Kangabe, the directorate plans to improve its software that detects plagiarism, as well as the person-view software that assists in monitoring students during online tests and exams. 

To support some of these initiatives, UCU emphasizes that every student should own a laptop. For those who are unable to make a one-off payment for the laptops, according to Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi, the university, in partnership with Equity Bank and tech firm CompConsult Technologies, has rolled out a laptop loan product. Through the partnership, “students are able to acquire a new laptop and pay for it over a period of 1-3 years,” Mushengyezi said during the July 28, 2023, graduation.

All students and staff of UCU have access to on-campus WiFi by logging into eduroam. Provided by RENU, eduroam is a Wi-Fi internet access roaming service for users in research, higher education and further education.

Despite technological advancement, the price of Uganda’s internet is still a hindrance to full adoption of online learning. In 2020, during the lockdown, many universities advised students who could not afford internet for online learning to take a dead year. 

A 2019 report by Uganda’s telecom regulator Uganda Communications Commission says Uganda has the highest priced internet in East Africa. One needs sh9,819 ($2.65) to acquire one gigabyte of internet compared to sh8,863 ($2.3) in Kenya and sh8,017 ($2.1) in both Tanzania and Rwanda.


USP students share expectations

Through the Uganda Studies Program (USP) at Uganda Christian University (UCU), American students spend the fall or spring semester studying alongside Ugandans and other students from the African continent and beyond. The program involves classes, internships, and living with Ugandan families or peers while providing opportunities for students to authentically engage people, culture, and contemporary realities in Uganda in ways that challenge them to be active participants in Christ’s claim on all aspects of life. 

Pauline Luba, student with the School of Journalism, Media and Communication and a Partners intern, recently talked to some of the USP students to capture a snapshot about their experiences and expectations in the advent semester. In October 2023, there were 16 USP students. 

Lydia Ware on UCU main campus.
Lydia Ware on UCU main campus.

Lydia Ware (New York)

I am from Roberts Wesleyan University in Rochester, New York, where I am studying Biochemistry. I am studying Global Health this semester. My experience so far has been good. USP has helped us adjust, and the people have been welcoming. USP also has a very good history. My expectations for this semester are to take my classes, learn more about health and grow my faith.

Isabella Garcia (California)

I am from Westmont College in California. It was challenging at first, adjusting to learning new things, knowledge I would not have got in the USA. The USP program has been great. I have had the opportunity to learn more about myself, faith and what it means to experience another culture. My expectation is to seek fellowship with other Christians here and grow my faith.

 Grace Anne Shaw hopes to build her leadership skills during the program.
Grace Anne Shaw hopes to build her leadership skills during the program.

Grace Anne Shaw (Pennsylvania)

I am from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. I am studying social work and biblical and religious studies. This semester in the program, I am doing social work emphasis. I think the program is well organized, and it is challenging our ideas and getting us outside of our comfort zones in a good way. A lot of our conversations are in faith and culture. We are being challenged to think in new ways. My expectations for this semester are to grow in my faith as a Christian, as well as gain good leadership skills.

Lacey Richards says she has learned a lot about Ugandan culture.

USP Lacey Richards (Ohio)

Lacey Richards says she has learned a lot about Ugandan culture.
I am from Cedarville University, a Christian university in southwest Ohio, USA, and I am studying social work there. During this USP program, I am also studying social work. My favorite experience so far has been our trip to northern Uganda. We were able to see Murchison Falls, meet and spend time with the people, as well as learn more about the culture. I am enjoying the program so far and learning a lot about Ugandan culture, as well as spending more time with Ugandans. I expect to grow in thinking. I think about the culture here and compare with that back home, and learn how to work with different groups of people.

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