Jimmy Siyasa

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NIRA recruits UCU graduate interns

By Derrick Brian Muduku

The National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), in a bid to quicken their citizen registration and certification activities, have recruited at least 50 graduate interns from Uganda Christian University (UCU).
Under this apprenticeship, the interns will support the digital registration of citizens, who later will be granted National Identification Cards. This is hands-on training that the University has embraced as beneficial to its students, the institution itself, and the Mukono community at large.
“We thank NIRA for allowing us to be the pioneers of this project that will cut across to other universities,” said Bridget Mugume K. Mugasira, the Director of Student Affairs at UCU,
She added that this project is UCU and NIRA’s corporate social responsibility because it is not only benefitting University students, but pupils from primary and secondary schools within Mukono municipality.”
NIRA camped at the UCU old football pitch on Monday, 03 December, to start their activities. Besides registration for National Identification cards (ID), they are also offering: replacement of lost IDs, birth certificates, checking status quo of IDs pending issuance, sensitization on the services of NIRA, etc.
This will go on for the next two weeks, after which, a major launch of the project will happen, and see it spread to other universities as well.

A student gets her finger prints scanned during the exercise. Photo/ Samuel Tatambuka


Gilbert Kadilo, the NIRA Manager of Public Relations and Corporate Affairs noted that while the graduate interns are helping to cover a human resource gap, they will also learn valuable skills.
“We decided to identify these students, train them and engage them to do the work. We do not have enough resources readily available to do all this work on our own,” he said.
Kadilo emphasised the importance of a National ID to Ugandan youth in regard with the current times.
“There are young Ugandans who have never registered for an ID. We are here to ensure that they get their cards because they need them,” he said.
He also commended UCU for accepting to host the activity, given the ongoing serious health and security concerns.
“UCU was quick to welcome the initiative, which I believe is part of their character and we appreciate it,” said Kadilo.
Over 150 students applied for the opportunity, but only 50 were selected based on geographical proximity to the registration center, academic performance and flexibility among others.

‘Canons’ beat ‘Blazers’ to win inaugural Invite-tournament

By Ian Asabo

The UCU Canons defeated the Namugongo Blazers, 61-58, in a closely contested final, to win the first “Invite” basketball tournament held at the YMCA court in Wandegeya. The winner, ‘Canons’ walked away with the sum of Shs 2m while the runner-up took home the sum of Shs 1.5m.
Bbaale Fayed was voted MVP of the tournament, after a unanimous verdict by the panel of judges highlighting his impressive basketball skills showcased during the game.
Head Coach Nicholas Natuhereza was glad that his team won the tournament and is excited for what the team can achieve the following year. “Glad we were the last team standing. All the hard work paid off. We are looking forward to what we can do next year” he says.
The team was able to maintain a 100% percent record in the tournament by winning all their games against tricky opponents including the Falcons and the UPDF Tomahawks.
Team captain Titus Lual praised the resilience of his team to be able to bounce back and win the final since they were behind at halftime.
“I am proud of the way we showed our champion instinct after we were down at the half. We showed character and I am proud of the guys that we were able to come back and win the game,” he says.
He also singled out praise for the MVP Bbaale Fayed and credited his victory to the hard work that he puts in on a daily basis.“ He is the deserved winner of the award. This is proof that when you work hard, you are always rewarded regardless,” he continues.
One UCU Canons fan stated that the continued investment in the sports sector at Uganda Christian University (UCU) is one of the main reasons why the team is excelling every time they step on the court. “The investment in the sports team administration and good coaching set up will make the team continue to succeed every time they step on the court, case in point is redesigning of the courts,” says Timothy Owor.
Six teams which included: Takan Lokeris, UCU Canons, Betway Power, Falcons participated in the inaugural tournament, which the sponsors having a view of making it an annual tournament.
Betway Power general manager Allan Musoke hopes for more tournaments as well as having some games on Friday evenings.
“We are hoping that as the tournaments continue. We can also have Friday night games so that we can expand the tourney. It will however remain invitational and we will allow teams to explore other playing options,” said Musoke.
The tournament was organized by NBL club Betway Power alongside sponsors like Rwenzori and Club Pilsner was in memory of those who had an impact on the game, but are now passed to glory.

Dr. Kitayimbwa urges First-year students to embrace Godliness while at UCU

By Derrick Muduku

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Affairs, Rev. Dr. John Kitayimbwa has called on the First-year university (UCU) to live according to God’s will as they start their educational journey. 

Dr. John Kitayimbwa made the remarks during the induction ceremony of the first-year students that happened on Thursday, 23 November 2021. The students came from the Faculties/ Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Surgery, and Law. With the aid of their Deans, the students took their oaths with Dr. John Kitayimbwa presiding over the process. 

Dr. Kitayimbwa highlighted that UCU is Christ-centered and will continue to thrive in that aspect. “Welcome to UCU, where we shamelessly start lectures with prayer. That will not change. We are proud of it and will always uphold It,” he said. He invited the new students to embrace Christian living and seek communion with Jesus Christ as the LORD and savior of their lives.

New students, during the induction ceremony.

He further assured the students that they will excel at the university if they work hard. “There are no miracles. Miracles are for young children. You have to strive to earn what you deserve,” he said. 

Dr. Godwin Awio, the Director of the Kampala Campus expressed his delight at receiving the new students. “We are ready to equip these students with the necessary skills to go out there and influence the world in a positive way,” he said. 

Suzan Nasaga, a first-year student pursuing Bachelors’s in Dental Surgery says she is enjoying the conducive environment at the Kampala Campus.

“Initially, I wanted to go to the Main Campus but I don’t regret coming here, this place is a breath of fresh air,” she said. She is excited about the bright future she hopes UCU is paving for her. “By the time I finish studying here, I am sure that I shall be able to practice dentistry and reap from it,” she added.

The induction ceremony at Uganda Christian University is a re-occurring event where new students at the Campus take an oath and are introduced to the values and guiding principles prescribed by the institution. 

Sima, Sabiti to lead UCU’s Guild Parliament

By Ivan Tsebeni

After a hotly contested race, Sima Liisa has been enthroned Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) Guild Speaker, with Aman Sabiti as her Deputy.  Sima polled 10 votes beating her closest rival Abigail Dawn Ampumuza who scored a total number of 8 votes. This happened in the rerun after the first poll ended in a draw where both candidates garnered 7, with Mark Kezaala trailing with 5 votes.

The elections were presided over by the outgoing Guild Speaker of the 23rd Parliament, Calvin Olupot Bahati. The electorates were the newly elected Guild Members of Parliament.

The first parliamentary session was held at Internation Christian Medical Institute (ICMI) hall opposite the Guild Canteen, at the UCU main campus, shortly after the swearing-in ceremony.

The new parliamentary bosses, Sima and Sabiti were thereafter sworn in and handed over instruments of power including the guild constitution, rules of procedure, and regalia.

“The fact that I won, there is no doubt, all people voted for me and I am ready to work with all of them. The expectations are high, fears and uncertainties exist but together we should build friendship, mend the bridges and work together, ” Sima said after assuming office.

The deputy-speaker elect,  Mr. Sabiti acknowledged the need to ensure the independence of the parliament as one arm of the government saying it is what he will focus on during his tenure.

“I am willing to serve the people. I want to instill the aspect of independence and working within the guild constitution in order to reap the maxim harvest,” Sabiti said in an interview.

This was the first seating of the 24th Guild government after it was voted in on November 24, 2021. It is the first-ever activity that followed the swearing-in that happened earlier in the day at Nkoyoyo Hall. During this, the congregation witnessed the new Guild President Ms. Racheal Mirembe Sserwadda and her officials take the oath.

It should be recalled that Sserwadda is the third female Guild President after Blessed Murungi in 2014 and Prisca Amongin in 2016. Sserwadda will officially receive instruments of power on December 18.

The guild Parliament is expected to sit and approve new Guild ministers who by press time had not been identified by Guild President.

A new Publication: “Effective Coaching Through Webinar Integrated Tools: A Research-Based Chapter for Promoting Active Learning in Online Environments,”

This is a publication by Dr. Stephen Kyakulumbye, a senior lecturer and scholar at the Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Business. It makes the Chapter Ten (10) In Hunaiti Z (2021) Coaching Applications and Effectiveness in Higher Education, published by IGI Global, 2021.

ABSTRACT

Webinars are very powerful yet less used strategies for building the capacity of teachers to improve their pedagogical and andragogical practice, let alone to be used by teachers to offer education to their learners. The classroom learning environment has evolved to meet the needs of today and tomorrow by providing students with access to technology and online resources that support instruction especially during times when face-to-face interactions are impossible. This chapter offers research-based experience for the limitations and framework solution for effectively applying webinar through integrative tools as a framework for coaching educationists to promote active learning in blended environments. This chapter proposes an implementation framework based on a situation awareness model within empathetic participatory design principles. This model results in empowering and motivational outcomes for the instructors to extend the application of the use of the webinar tools among their fellow instructors.

Dr. Kyakulumbye holds a Master’s in Project Management and a Post-graduate diploma (both aligned to ICT) from the Uganda Management Institute. His bachelor’s degree, attained at Nkumba University in Uganda, was in computing education.

He is a registered Graduate Educator by Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports. A well-published scholar, Kyakulumbye chairs the UCU Research Ethics Committee, a body that plays the oversight of research involving humans as research participants in Uganda. 

‘Canons’ to face ‘Blazers’ in first ‘Power’ invitational tournament final

By Ian Asabo

The UCU Canons will face the Namugongo Blazers in the final of the first Betway Power invitational tournament final. They beat the Falcons 75-53 in the semi-final held at YMCA court in Wandegeya to book their ticket for the final game this coming Saturday (04 December), against the Blazers.

The Namugongo blazers, on the other hand, downed the UPDF Tomahawks 79-55 in a blowout win in the other semi-final that signaled their intent on winning their championship.

The UCU Canons are in sparkling form, which places the team as clear favourites for the final, which has seen them compete in two tournaments at the same time, and keep at 100% in all of their games.

They recently won the 3×3 Afro Varsity tournament held in Nairobi which guaranteed the team the chance to represent Africa in the World Cup in October 2022. The ‘Canons’ defeated the UPDF Tomahawks, Takan Lokeris, and the Falcons on their road to the final.

UCU Canons in action in the semi-finals. Photo/ Courtesy.

Team Captain and Forward Titus Lual predicts a very competitive encounter, but is very confident that the team will win the game and be crowned champions. “ The Final against the Blazers will be a very competitive game with both teams leaving it on the line, but I am very confident that the team will be able to get the dub”, he says.

Betway Power organized the tournament in order to remember the lives lost of those who were influential in developing the game during the pandemic.

Betway Power General Manager, Allan Musoke said the tournament is being held in honor of key stakeholders in the Uganda Basketball fraternity, such as Isaac Bagenda, who have, since, passed to glory. “We have lost many people in the basketball fraternity, so through this tournament, we want to honour them for their contribution to the sport”, he said.

The winner of the tournament will take home Shs2m, while the first and second runners up will pocket Shs 1.5m and Shs. 500,000, respectively. 

Faculty of Agricultural Sciences wins 1.6 bn grant

The Uganda Christian University (UCU) Faculty of Agricultural Sciences has won a grant worth 400,000 Euros (1.6 bn UGX). This was courtesy of a competitive project proposal titled Strengthening Agricultural Knowledge & Innovation Ecosystem for Inclusive Rural Transformation & Livelihoods in Eastern Africa.

The innovation platform will enhance the capacity of small-scale producers to access markets and meet the demand thereof. Additionally, the project will facilitate small-scale producers through Uganda National Farmers Federation using a management information system where specific information and linkages for vegetable businesses along the value chain can be met.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, commended the Faculty for its robust research initiatives. ” We are very proud of you (Prof. Elizabeth Kizito) and your team. I applaud your continued efforts to advance research and partnerships at UCU,” he said.

Objectives of the project:

  • Build capacity in contractual production (Seed and value-added products) as a business. 
  • Adapt and validate an inclusive management information system for enhanced market access. 
  • Enhance a competitive edge for small-scale producers in the AIV value chain.
  • Disseminate knowledge on the production of AIVs as a business.

Dr. Kyakulumbye, the brains behind UCU eLearning

By Eriah Lule
In 2013, Steven Kyakulumbye had a vision about the critical role of virtual learning in knowledge transfer. When he thought it was time to put his dream into practice, Kyakulumbye wrote a proposal for the initiation of virtual learning within Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) Faculty of Business Administration.

Impressed by the proposal, then UCU Vice-Chancellor, the Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi, tasked him with writing a virtual learning plan for the entire university. Senyonyi hoped to present it to the University Council for approval.

When the proposal was approved, Kyakulumbye was asked to design the eLearning policies and guidelines. By 2015, the UCU eLearning center was under construction. The university needed to get someone to manage the center. When the vacancy was advertised, Kyakulumbye applied and was hired for the position. However, he was not able to assume the role.

“I didn’t step into my office because, around the same time, I got a scholarship from the UCU staff scholarship committee to pursue my PhD course,” the 47-year-old said. “And so, I had to make the difficult decision.”

Kyakulumbye left in 2016 to attend his Pre-PhD program at the University of Pretoria and, later, in 2017, he headed to the University of Western Cape in South Africa, to pursue a doctorate in information systems. However, he maintained a seat on the eLearning committee that had been formed to oversee virtual learning programs.

Kyakulumbye’s stay in South Africa challenged him to test his own initiative.

“I used to teach my master’s students online,” he says. With the exposure acquired from South Africa, in 2019, the Vice-Chancellor asked him to present to the academic management of UCU insights into how they could integrate eLearning in the Alpha app, an application students use to check academic results at the university.

In 2020, the UCU School of Business, set up an eLearning committee to design virtual programs for students, and the ripple effect was felt across all faculties.

By the time schools were closed in March of 2020, to limit the spread of Covid-19 in Uganda, UCU was well ahead of many higher institutions of learning as far as eLearning is concerned. In fact, UCU Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi has invited institutions that wish to learn from the best practices of online learning at UCU not to hesitate.

“We have invested in our infrastructure of electronic learning and have something to share with other institutions and in case of any help, we are around to give a hand,” Mushengyezi said at a recent online conference convened to discuss the disruptive effects of Covid-19 on the education sector in Uganda.

Now eight years since Kyakulumbye’s first proposal rooting for eLearning, lots of changes have happened. He is now a proud holder of a doctorate degree and is a senior lecturer in the university. The Faculty of Business Administration is now the UCU School of Business. And, thanks to Covid, eLearning was fast-tracked and implemented across the entire university.

Kyakulumbye did not just bump into the computer world. He’s highly qualified to be there.

He holds a master’s in project management and a post-graduate diploma (both aligned to ICT) from the Uganda Management Institute. His bachelor’s degree, attained at Nkumba University in Uganda, was in computing education.

He is a registered Graduate Educator by Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports. A well-published scholar, Kyakulumbye chairs the UCU Research Ethics Committee, a body that plays the oversight of research involving humans as research participants in Uganda. 

For 20 years, Kyakulumbye has been married to Agnes Nansubuga; the couple has five children. He is a son of Lubowa Joseph and Ann Mary Namuddu of Buikwe in central Uganda. Kyakulumbye loves music and enjoys playing traditional instruments like flutes.

When he completes his tour of duty at UCU, Kyakulumbye wants to engage in consultancy in information technology. 

American Fulbright Scholar helps UCU improve writing skills

By Eriah Lule
An American Fulbright Scholar is in Uganda with a goal of helping Uganda Christian University (UCU) establish a writing center. 

Thomas A. Deans, a Professor of English, began working in late August with UCU’s Department of Languages as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Uganda on a teaching and research award. The proposal of a writing center at UCU, Deans says, was the centerpiece of his Fulbright application. 

And it is not by accident that Deans is pushing for a writing center at UCU. He is currently the Director of the University Writing Center at the University of Connecticut, a position he has held since 2005 when he joined the institution. 

In fact, even before joining the University of Connecticut, Deans played a pivotal role in steering a college writing program. He was the Director of College Writing at the Haverford College in Pennsylvania. No doubt he is fully aware of the benefits an institution can reap from a center designed to enhance writing skills. 

Writing centers are places for collaboration between writers and their tutors. Writing centers may offer one-on-one scheduled tutorial appointments, group tutoring, and writing workshops. They are maintained by universities or created as part of the writing program to help students find their writing voice and tackle any writing challenge.

From August 2021 to the end of February 2022, the duration of the scholarship, Deans is teaching two courses and conducting a research project on undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics writers. 

The 54-year-old also has been using the six months to help review UCU’s Department of Languages’ graduate curriculum for master’s students and work closely with the writing and study skills department.

He also is extending his more than 30 years of professional experience to Makerere University in Uganda, where he will be offering faculty development workshops through that University’s Center for Teaching and Learning Support. 

“For most Fulbright scholar awards, a letter of invitation is recommended or required, and that can leave applicants who don’t already have established relationships with a potential host institution feeling at a loss,” Deans says.

Initially, Deans had contemplated on Finland as his host country for the Fulbright. But that was not to be as his request for a letter of invitation was not granted.

The cold shoulder he got from Finland was a blessing in disguise for UCU. When Deans thought of the warm encounter he had had with Ugandan scholars, he re-established contact with Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, who he had met while the latter was pursuing his PhD at the University of Connecticut. Mushengyezi did not hesitate to invite Deans to UCU. When Mushengyezi first met Deans, the former was an academic at Makerere University.

According to Dr. Taabu James Busimba, the newly appointed Head of the Department of Languages, Prof. Deans is laying a firm foundation by establishing the center. Busimba believes the center will not only offer a head start for more scholars to go to UCU, but also open doors for them to win grants and sponsorships for the department. 

Exams are among the activities which give students goosebumps at school. No wonder, Katusiime Gift, a master’s student in the Department of Languages at UCU, is excited at one proposition by Tom Deans to replace exams for some master’s students in preference for research and presenting of papers.

“I am so excited to have a Fulbright scholar in our department,” Katusiime said.

While exams are an option to research papers in many United States post-graduate programs, Tom Deans asserts that “MA students won’t grow as researchers unless they are writing seminar papers that involve sustained research.”  A substantial paper or literature review (completed in several drafts, with feedback and revision) could help build the research and writing experience and could be preferable over a test. 

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awards more than 800 fellowships annually to scholars at all career levels who take up teaching, research, and professional projects in more than 135 countries. Deans won the award under the theme “Cultivating Writing Centers and Writing across the Disciplines in Ugandan Universities; UCU /Makerere University.” 

He is married to Jill Deans and they have two sons – Griffin, 21, and Elliot, 18 years. Griffin and Elliot are expected to join their parents for the Christmas holidays in Uganda.

UCU Partners donates $50,000 to UCU’s eLearning platform


By Yasiri J. Kasango
Efforts by Uganda Christian University (UCU) to upgrade its eLearning platforms have gained momentum after Good Samaritans donated funds to assist.

UCU Partners has donated $50,000 (over sh170m) to the university to expand the platform. Mark Bartels, UCU Partners executive director, said the organization contributed the funds following a call by the university’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, for external funders to support the eLearning infrastructure. 

“The idea to support eLearning came from UCU,” Bartels said. “In all of the support that UCU Partners offers to UCU, we seek to meet the most important needs of the university. When the Vice Chancellor communicated this need to us, we were glad that we had some funds available to donate to UCU towards achieving its goal.” 

Bartels added that given the restrictions in Uganda due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the significant increase in eLearning needs, it was a natural place for UCU Partners to make a contribution. 

“We know that these funds will make a difference for so many students, even after the Covid-19 restrictions are eased,” he said “We have been so impressed with the way UCU has led universities in Uganda in terms of eLearning.” 

“It is always exciting to support a project that has shown promise with fewer resources, knowing that additional resources will make a big difference,” Bartels added.

At a recent virtual dialogue to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on education institutions, Mushengyezi advised the government and schools to follow the online learning path that his institution has taken in order to reduce the effects of Covid-related lockdowns on studies.

In March 2020, when the government of Uganda imposed a total lockdown on academic institutions in the country as precaution to limit the spread of Covid-19, UCU embraced eLearning and it is one of the few universities in Uganda teaching during the lockdown.

“We have invested in infrastructure of electronic learning and have something to share with other institutions,” Mushengyezi said at the dialogue, adding that such a move will not only keep students from lagging behind because of the pandemic, but also enable them to continue studying on their own time.

UCU Partners is a US-based non-profit charitable organization committed to raising public awareness about UCU by seeking material and spiritual support for students and other projects in the university. 

The University ICT Services (UIS) technical manager, Rebecca Kangabe, said the contribution from UCU Partners will go a long way towards purchasing cooling equipment for the servers. “The funds will also go towards improving the internet service capacity of the university and the PS link from 1GB to 10GB,” she said.

The increase in the PS link is expected to boost the communication at UCU, making the internal emailing system faster and also simplifying the teaching on the Big Blue Button. 

Kangabe commended UCU Partners for the generous contribution. 

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