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Females beat males: Press Release on Graduation

By Jimmy Siyasa

Uganda Christian University (UCU) will on Friday, July 29, will confer degrees on 2106 graduands, during the 23rd Graduation ceremony. Of those, I164 are females, accounting for 55% and 942 are males, making up 45%.

55 students will graduate with First Class. The overall best student, Mugaga Leslie Lubowa scored 4.91 CGPA. He pursued a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics. Mugaga has also emerged as the best male student and best science student.

The best overall female student is Cynthia Birungi Muhumuza, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics with a CGPA of 4.76. Furthermore, the best Arts student is Hajara Nanziri, who attained First Class, having scored a 4.72 CGPA. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management.

The 23rd graduation will be UCU’s first total in-person ceremony since the outbreak of Covid-19 more than two years ago. The previous two graduation ceremonies — on December 18, 2020, and October 22, 2021 — were virtual, in line with the Uganda Government’s policy of observing the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures.

The graduating students are also coming from some of UCU’s constituent colleges, namely Bishop Barham and Mbale University College; and the Arua Campus. 

The University Chancellor, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, will preside over the graduation and the Chief Guest will be the Rt. Rev. Dr. Sheldon Mwesigwa, who is the former Chairperson of the University Council and the Bishop of the Diocese of Ankole.

We congratulate the graduands upon this remarkable academic milestone and also commend their families, friends and sponsors for supporting them to this date.

Note: UCU endeavour to avail graduates both their transcripts and certificates on the graduation day, and will not revoke this commitment.

To God be the glory!

DALILA: Call to Application to Business Skills Lab

A window of opportunity is open to all students of entrepreneurship to be part of a business skills lab, courtesy of the DALILA project- a capacity-building project funded by EACEA, the Education, Audio-visual, and Culture Executive Agency of the European Union.

What to expect from the Business Lab:

  •  International exposure
  • Training on practical and theoretical concepts by international experts

Areas to be covered

  • Ideation
  • Team-building
  • How to develop a business concept
  • Finance
  • Customer valuation tools
  • Common problems entrepreneurs face and how to handle them
  • Investment, among others.

APPLY NOW (SEE PICTURE BELOW)

FOR MORE DETAIL (Watch Video)

This DALILA project seeks to promote sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth that is driven by young, African entrepreneurs from institutions of Higher Learning.

Besides Uganda Christian University, other African educational institutions involved or invited to participate in this project include; the University of Dodoma, the University of Zanzibar, and Uganda Martyrs University.

Virtual Counseling Room: A possible boost to mental health in Uganda

The Dotcom era

The ongoing digital revolution which started with the internet around 1980, has impacted the way of life and activities in all sectors. As the pace of digital transformation accelerates, the birth of a very connected yet lonely society has become a real threat to mental health. The digital society has seen both the old and young replace human company with the company of digital devices.

Just recently, my 21-year-old “jolly” friend broke into tears after I made a considerably usual statement; “Hey Ian (not real name), you seem very happy these days!”. I said when I had noticed his “over-excitement”, every time we happened to meet. Our conversation revealed to me the depth of prolonged depression and brokenness he was struggling with. “Why hadn’t Ian sought counseling all this while?” I wondered.

Of sad, but happy-looking people

In Uganda, you will often hear the statements; “Guma nga omusajja” or “Guma makazi”, which is literally translated as, “Be strong like a man” or “be strong like a woman”. Just like Ian, many opt to “act” strong and happy instead of seeking counseling due to the fear of being judged among other fears. Thoughts like; “people will see me”, “people will think I am weak”, “I am a leader in society”, and “I am a prominent person”, among others, are killing more people than we realize.

Some reports have indicated that about 7 out of every 10 people with a mental disorder do not seek treatment! So, what can be done?

Here are a few digital solutions to be considered:
  • Develop software, and integrate it with social media platforms and other interactive technologies that would bring together professional counselors and people in need of counseling services without requiring patients/clients to reveal their identities.
  • Create virtual counseling rooms that have invisible counselors and hold virtual counseling sessions to encourage people to seek help anonymously until they are ready for physical interaction.
  • Create a follow-up mechanism for persons that have sought counseling services to monitor the healing process.
  • Leave an avenue for people ready for physical interaction to access them

The health sector, companies/organizations, institutions of learning, and the church, can co-opt some of these suggestions into their existing digital platforms or create them in a situation where they do not exist. Not all happy-looking people are okay. Not all unwell people are getting help! Therefore, We need to create digital platforms to ease access to help. A healthy mind is a healthy person, a healthy person is a healthy society.

Image: Mukalere Justine

The author is a Lecturer at the UCU Department of Computing and Technology

NCC 2022: An insight into the role of Academia in digital transformation

By Mukalere Justine

Uganda Christian University (UCU) participated in the 7th National Conference on Communications (NCC2022) under the theme; “Inclusive Digital Transformation Through Innovation”, which happened between June, 21 -22, 2022.

The annual conference organized by; the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University in collaboration with the Uganda Communications Commission brought various ICT players on the same platform to discuss issues of inclusion through innovation in the digital era. Policymakers (Ministry of ICT, NITA-U), Academia (Institutions of learning), and the industry (RENU, HUAWEI, WUGNET, OUTBOX among others) graced the event.

With the discussions steered in the direction of digital inclusion through innovation, the need to bridge the gap between academia and the industry was very evident.

The question of how the academic institutions teach and train learners to equip them with skills to innovate and serve in the industry became too loud to ignore, requiring an urgent solution to the challenge of inadequate resources and skill gap amidst the various opportunities to light which can be utilized.

Inclusion, innovation, and skill gap is not a conversation to be exhausted in a two-day sitting; prompting the need for policymakers, industry and academia to come together in order to develop a practical, yet sustainable plan on how to support learners in both public and private institutions if the so needed digital transformation is to be realized.

A few proposed ways to encourage and support innovation:
  • Mindset change towards ICT and innovation
  • collaborations between and among academic institutions
  • involvement of the industry players in curricula development
  • development and operationalization of supporting policies
  • creation and equipping of accessible incubation hubs
Left to right; Mr. Kubanja Martin, Katumbire Bobm Kauta Marvin, Nandawula Maria, Akech Mary Francis, Wani Julius, Lukeera Micheal and Ms. Mukalere Justine (sitting)

UCU was physically represented by two lecturers (Ms. Mukalere Justine (Myself) and Mr. Kubanja Martin) and six students from the department of Computing and Technology, with another team of students attending the event online since the conference followed a blended approach (physical and online).

The author is a Lecturer at the UCU Department of Computing and Technology

Promoting Entrepreneurship to Reduce Graduate Unemployment: Book-Release

By Jimmy Siyasa

Just last year, a Daily Monitor report noted that ” At least nine in every 10 Ugandans who have completed any form of education are unemployed.” The same year the National Planning Authority released statistics showing that out of 700,000 that join the job market every year, their qualifications notwithstanding, only 90,000 of those get a form of employment.

With the devastating effect of COVID-19 on the job market, let alone the broader economy, the statistics may have gotten even worse.

Official Release

As a response to this big graduate-unemployment problem, Dr. Isaac Wasswa Katono, Senior Lecturer at the Uganda Christian University School of Business has published a book; the 363-page volume entitled Promoting Entrepreneurship to Reduce Graduate Unemployment for Over 30 Years has been OFFICIALLY RELEASED by IGI-Global, the Publisher.

The book covers a wide range of academic areas including, but not limited to:
  • Career Choice
  • Career identity
  • Entrepreneurial self-efficacy
  • Skills development
  • Social Capital
  • Upskilling graduates

The publisher notes that “Although it will not be a panacea for all the obstacles that impede graduate entrepreneurship, it is hoped that this book will illuminate the entrepreneurship career path, serve as a platform for further diagnosis for reducing graduate unemployment, and highlight areas in need of further research.”

Promoting Entrepreneurship to Reduce Graduate Unemployment seeks to expand understanding of the barriers that face graduates in becoming entrepreneurs in various countries, examining the role of educational institutions in promoting graduate entrepreneurship and evaluating governments as well as other schemes that promote graduate entrepreneurship. 

IGI-Global

Click here for the preface of the book, and here to buy and be able to access the full text.

About Author

Dr. Katono holds a Ph.D. in Business Science and Entrepreneurship from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. His Ph.D. thesis is entitled: “Cultural Predictions of Entrepreneurial Orientation and the Moderating Role of Entrepreneurial Competencies on Graduate Entrepreneurial Intentions: A Cross-Sectional Survey of East Africa: The research focuses on the impact of culture on entrepreneurial orientation. 

Love and Sex- Applying the Song of Songs in a Global Cultural Context: Research publication

By Jimmy Siyasa

If, ever, any Bible scriptures, conceivably held God guilty- in the eyes of many Christians and heathens-for ‘sexual perversion’ and/or a sheer lack of “Christian euphemism”, none testify better than the Song of Songs.

The Canticles of Solomon, as the book is sometimes called, uses such “graphic imagery” of romantic love and sexuality, as to trigger a measure of embarrassment or shyness, even among the clergy, let alone Christians, who read the Bible.

It is only until a few decades ago that Bible scholars began to render keen focus “on the themes of human sexuality and marriage,” as noted by the author, Rev. Emmanuel Mukeshimana, Ph.D., whose publication offers some answers…

A Review

The paper entitled “Love and Sex: Applying the Song of Songs in a Global Cultural Context” makes for a good and deeply insightful read for all; scholars, clergy and the most simple-minded of “sheep”, who often run the risk of erotically interpreting the Song of Songs. The chapter appeared in the first issue of the 2022 Volume of The Global Anglican.

In this publication, the author sets the stage for a healthy interpretation of the scriptures in question by noting that “The Song of Songs teaches that Love and Sex are to be seen as the Foundations of marriage.” He recognizes love and sex as complimentary gifts from God, which are indispensable ingredients for a functional marriage.

He argues that scripture does not teach that the spirit is good and the body is bad; rather, both the physical and spiritual are part of the Lord’s good creation

In a similar vein, he juxtaposes contemporary and conventional courtship, while appreciating the uniqueness of each. Mukeshimana asserts that “the progression of their [Love and sex] relationship is a model for courtship and marriage today, by contrast with the traditional practices in many African communities, and with contemporary secular ways of doing things.

He calls for the recovery of “this model” urging that doing so will be relevant to the church and to theological educators for marriage preparation.

The controversy of Song of Songs

The scholar attempts to clear the moral mustiness associated with popular Christian and secular interpretations of the Song of songs by offering a background of its carnal interpretation that is linked to ancient Greek teachings:

“Historically, many interpreters have been embarrassed by the sensual imagery from the Song, largely due to the assumptions left over by the Greek philosopher, who viewed the body and physical pleasures as evils, things to be avoided or escaped for the good of the soul,” he writes.

On the contrary- away from secular interpretation- Mukeshimana, presents the purpose of the Canticles… as follows: “Song of songs was written as an affirmation of the goodness of love and sex within marriage,” he notes, arguing that “the church must not shy away from addressing and teaching every generation about love and sex because they are such important experiences in everyday life.”

In sum, the publication, [available here] justifies God as the author of love, marriage, and the gift of human sexuality, just as much as it exposes the erotic, distorted human view of sex and romantic love: It goes ahead to offer a healthy, truth-orientated, well-elucidated interpretation of the Songs of Solomon.

Nuggets
  • God made a world that was originally “very good, commanding human beings to procreate and fill it (Gen. 1: 26-31)
  • Sex within the context of marriage is good and holy, and a gift for spousal enjoyment, the furthering of; physical, spiritual, and emotional intimacy between husband and wife.
  • Recovering this biblical model will be relevant to the church and theological educators for marriage preparation.
  • Young people seeking guidance on love, sex, and marriage would find it useful, and it will also be valuable for individuals who are in a rush to make decisions about whom and how to love.

The author, Rev. Dr. Mukeshimana is a Lecturer at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology.

Generosity of strangers changed my life, Law student

My name is Geoffrey Kiwumulo and I am a student at Uganda Christian University (UCU), Kampala Campus. I am currently in my fourth year pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Law.

When I joined UCU in 2019, I did not have tuition-related challenges; at least not the kind that would grind to a halt my university education. I was excited and optimistic like any other freshman because I was joining a leading university in the country to pursue my dream course: UCU is unique, mainly because since its inception in 1997, it has delivered on its promise for academic excellence for all who enroll.                      

Unfortunately, when Covid -19 hit in 2020, everything changed.  My father, a Lay reader with the Church of Uganda, could no longer afford to pay tuition fees to keep me and my siblings in university. A national lockdown was imposed. Churches were closed and the economy was severely damaged by the pandemic. This meant that my father, who in capacity was an employee of the church had effectively become unemployed.

My hope of attaining my goal started to dwindle. Life became difficult, and so many things changed. I could see my dream of becoming an advocate slipping through the vicious claws of COVID-19: Dad’s primary source of income was no more; the little he got only helped to keep the family from starving! I feared that this was the beginning of a downward spiral into a future of lack and poverty.

A miracle: Turning point

While I was sinking in despair, watching my once bright future growing dim, dimmer…, a miracle happened! Yes, I believe miracles still happen!

I got a scholarship!

Having shared my story, God was gracious enough to intervene in my predicament through the office of the UCU Vice-Chancellor, which offered me a fully-funded scholarship.

Courtesy of the scholarship, I have been able to complete my third year of study in Law School and now I am in my final semester of the fourth year.

Only God knows how grateful I am! Now, more than ever, I am determined to touch more lives out there, the same way mine has been touched through the generosity of strangers.

A Call For You To Give and Help Others like me

I know there are so many ‘Geoffreys’ with a similar or worse story, in different years of study at UCU. They are hopeful that one day their stories will turn around just like mine did.

YOU can change their story and help fund their dream by just giving as little as UGX 10,000 (USD 3). HOW? (See below)

UCU has created an opportunity for you to donate and help, through a campaign dubbed “For Just 10K, change a life”. The target is to raise UGX 1 billion (USD 270,000). This money will help over 74 needy students finish their university degree.

HOW TO GIVE   

  • Follow the link:
  • Through Stanbic Bank: Account No: 9030005916673 (Account Name: Uganda Christian University)

Vice Chancellor’s message (WATCH):

Prof. Mushengezi, the UCU Vice Chancellor, explains the “Just 10K campaign”.

Gayaza girls eager to study sciences at UCU: An outreach tale

By Mercy Auma Gabriella

A team of three from the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Department of Computing and Technology went to Gayaza High School, upon invitation for a Careers’ Day on Saturday, June 18, 2022. The team included Justine Mukalere, Patience Ankunda and myself, Mercy Auma Gabriella.

We set off from UCU in a private 14- seater van courtesy of the University. We carried along with us branded publicity materials, including UCU brochures, banners and flyers. But most importantly, our UCU-molded personality.

On sight, we were greeted by the Head Girl of Gayaza High School, who led us past the other teams from companies ad organizations like the Ministry of Works, Law Society, and Civil Aviation Authority, among others. She ushered us to a tent labeled “UCU”. Before we could even start setting up, a swarm of girls gathered around hovering over us with anticipation to hear what we had to share with them. Immediately, we introduced ourselves and began to interact with the young women.

Mercy interacts with some girls from Gayaza, at the UCU stall. Photo/ Courtesy.

The Career Day was organized in a way that Senior six and Senior five girls had the first hour of interaction with all the facilitators. They would then be followed by Senior four and Senior three girls for the next hour, then lastly, the Senior two and Senior one girls.

Our Experience: “Demystifying Uganda Christian University”

I speak for my colleagues when I say, the Gayaza girls were highly inquisitive: They wanted to know what UCU is, what it stands for, and how the university could serve their diverse career path interests.

Some of them had myths UCU was “strict” and “law and theology-centered”. In fact, they may have been surprised that we were wearing trousers instead of extremely long, nun-like skirts. In the delusion, they likened the strictness to that of a secondary school.

Patience Atukunda, one of the three UCU representatives/facilitators has a one-on-one with a Gayaza student. Photo/Courtesy.

Blessedly, Ankunda and I, both of us alumnae of UCU, and most recent graduates readily debunked the myths, to the students’ satisfaction: Matter of fact, they later marveled at the fact that UCU has many science-oriented courses it offers including Engineering, Information Tech, Agricultural Sciences, Computer Sciences, Accounting and Finance, and many more.

In sum, several of the students that approached the tent with questions left satisfied and certain that the University had something to offer in order to support their different passions. From agriculture enthusiasts to robotics fans, the girls were each guided on the courses they could take to further their passions.

Overall, I would like to thank God, UCU, the Department of Computing and Technology, and the three representatives from the Department for making the experience worthwhile for both the students of Gayaza High School and 

the University as a whole. More outreaches need to be done so that UCU’s bright light that has been shining for the past 25 years, is not hidden.

The trio share a photo moment after the outreach, at Gayaza High School. Photo/ Courtesy.

Digital Praxis: Young innovators hold first boot camp

By Emmanuel Isabirye

10 student teams have undergone Phase one of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Digital Innovation Praxis Challenge. The phase dubbed ‘Understanding the User’ Ideation Bootcamp took place at the Hamu Mukasa Library, UCU, on Saturday, June 18.

The student teams were trained by digital innovation experts from the UCU Department of Computing and Technology in what is technically called the “structured and human-centered approach”, which involves quick and iterative building and refining of a product/service that would suit the needs of an end consumer.

Emmanuel Isabirye guides one of the student-innovators, Jacqueline Ainabyoona . Photo/ courtesy

During the training, Emmanuel Isabirye, the Co-Team Lead of the UCU Digital Praxis emphasized that “Designing innovations without understanding the user can be socially harmful, time-consuming and cost-inefficient,” he said.

Jacqueline Ainabyoona a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT), who is doing a project in Digital Agriculture says she learned the value of empathy; putting herself in the shoes of the user in crafting her “My farm” solution, which embraces crowd-farming to enable those who cannot afford to set up farms to rear cattle on a shared basis.

Hereafter, the teams will then be guided to do research, analysis & further rethink their innovations. At the end of the first phase, every student team shall have a well-researched problem, a theoretical solution that meets the user’s needs, and a visual sketch of the solution.

Student-innovators learning during the boot camp. Photo/ Courtesy.

Phase two will consist of prototyping and testing, where the teams shall develop a working prototype that innovatively solves the identified problem. The prototype shall be the proof-of-concept from the teams. Hereafter, the teams will advance to stage 3.

In phase three, a widely-publicized event shall be organized for the student teams to pitch their innovative solutions to the identified problems. The three best teams shall be selected and awarded cash gifts to further improve their projects.

The final (fourth) phase will consist of marketing the student’s innovations to attract potential funders for possible scaling up of the innovations.

An illustration chat.

US departments recognize UCU’s research ethics committee

By Kefa Senoga
The Uganda Christian University-Research Ethics Committee (UCU-REC) has been accredited by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Osborne Ahimbisibwe, the secretary of the UCU-REC, said the accreditation is a result of UCU-REC’s success in fulfilling its professional duties that include looking out for the privacy and protection of persons in studies. He said the ethics committee is listed on the HHS and OHRP website as the UCU Institutional Review Board (IRB), Number IRB00013492.  

Ahimbisibwe explained that funding agencies use the HHS and OHRP websites to verify that an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Research Ethics Committee (REC) has an active registration. The OHRP provides leadership in the protection of the rights and well-being of human subjects involved in research conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services while the FDA protects public health by ensuring safety of human drugs.  

“The accreditation means that if someone is coming from the U.S to conduct research in Uganda and they get approval from UCU-REC, the findings of their study will be recognized back in the United States,” Ahimbisibwe explained.

There are a number of Research Ethics Committees in Uganda that include the Uganda Virus Research Institute Research Ethics Committee (UVRI-REC), Mbarara University of Science and Technology Research Ethics Committee (MUST – REC), Nkumba University Research Ethics Committee (NU-REC), and the School of Medicine Research Ethics Committee at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, among others.

Ahimbisibwe explains that the UCU-REC on average does 200 protocol reviews annually and it’s mandatory for postgraduate students and other researchers outside academia, for example, clinical trials. He adds that membership of the committee is comprised of scientific and non-scientific members who are made up of UCU community representatives and non-UCU-affiliated members. 

Commenting on the development, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Rev. Prof. John Kitayimbwa, said that the accreditation is an important development for UCU, which intends to drive the agenda of research. 

A post-graduate student works in the UCU library, which is working to drive the agenda of quality research to increase global visibility and maximize impact of these studies.
A post-graduate student works in the UCU library, which is working to drive the agenda of quality research to increase global visibility and maximize impact of these studies.

“We are transforming the university from one that’s been majorly teaching to a research-led one,” he said. “However, in order to do research, especially where you have human subjects, you have got to do that work ethically.” 

Prof. Kitayimbwa noted that UCU’s REC ensures that the standards, which have been set in terms of the ethical considerations worldwide, are followed when dealing with human subjects in research activity.   

Dr. Angela Napakol, a REC member and senior lecturer at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, said the accreditation was not only vital in science-related research, but also in other fields, such as social sciences and humanities. 

Napakol noted one example of a researcher who is going to the field to discuss mental health and could bring up sensitive topics that may trigger trauma because of a past experience. If information is not acquired properly, including with sensitivity and respect, the questions can trigger a breakdown. Thus,  it is important to ensure that ethical practices are followed. 

“So, as REC, we want to make sure that the discussions between the researcher and the participants don’t trigger episodes of mental breakdown,” she said.  “That is why we put emphasis on ethical standards.”

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