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UCU

‘I needed the PhD to bolster my capacity’

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Martin Kizito’s mother wanted her son to be a teacher. Kizito dreamed of being a political scientist.

Despite his uncertainty about the career choice clash and some guilt over disappointing his mom, Kizito stuck to his aspiration and applied for a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Makerere University. 

To further cement his political science goal, Kizito joined student leadership at Makerere. As a leader, he had a “baptism by fire” when an accident claimed the life of a student and he was tasked with the duty of informing the student community. He wrote the letter, and because the student was popular, some students cited foul play in the death. When students conducted a demonstration over the demise, Kizito was accused of inciting that action.

That experience caused Kizito to move away from his childhood ambition of politics. It is also at that point that he discovered that it was within his means to resurrect the wish of his mother — becoming a teacher. Kizito turned his attention to performing well, so he could be retained as a teaching assistant at the university.

For that to happen, he needed to get a first-class degree. And he did. Makerere University thus retained Kizito as a teaching assistant. And, Kizito, who was recently a recipient of a Doctor of Philosophy, never looked back. 

In July 2008, he started working at Uganda Christian University (UCU) on a part-time basis, becoming a full-time staff member a year later. 

In 2016, when Kizito was appointed the Head of the Department of Public Administration and Governance at UCU, it dawned on him that the university had begun to entrust him with big assignments, and, therefore, he needed to return to school to pursue a doctorate, to achieve the academic readiness for large tasks.

“Being head of department meant I built the standard for the rest so I felt challenged,” Kizito said. “At some of the committees where I represented UCU as head of department, almost everybody was a professor.”

At the time, Kizito had a Master’s in Public Administration and Management (Makerere University), a Postgraduate Diploma in Monitoring and Evaluation (Uganda Management Institute) and  a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Makerere). 

A few months into his role as head of department, Kizito was also appointed co-ordinator of the Master of Research and Public Policy program at UCU. Additionally, he was asked to represent UCU on the steering committee of Partnership for African Social and Governance Research. 

He also was involved in the establishment of the Master of Governance and International Relations program, as well as the review of the programs of Master of Research and Public Policy and the Master of Public Administration and Management.

At the time, he was teaching two undergraduate programs: Bachelor of Governance and International Relations and Bachelor of Public Administration and Management.

“I would feel that God had granted me opportunities, but I needed the PhD to bolster my capacity,” Kizito said. “I told myself fortune favors a prepared man, so I wanted a PhD to be ready to maximize any opportunities that would come my way.” 

“My parents loved education. So, I knew that a PhD would make my mum proud because many people really want to see their children get the best from school.” 

His hunt for a scholarship yielded fruits in 2020 with admission to the University of Pretoria in South Africa. 

While grateful, his physical studies in South Africa meant sacrificing time away from  his wife, Angella, and five-year-old daughter. Additionally, during his second year, he needed to return to Uganda when Angella, now in recovery, was diagnosed with cancer.

“It was a tough time, moving to different hospitals, taking care of my wife during the day, and having to study at night to catch up with university deadlines,” he said. 

This slowed down his progress, making him graduate after four years instead of three.

UCU’s Martin Kizito’s Groundbreaking Research

Kizito’s research focus was on developing a model for enhancing evaluation influence on policy design. A design that effectively contributes to a better policy environment, evidence-based policy design, and implementation in Africa.

In his research, he looked at the African Peer Review Mechanism, a system that evaluates how well countries are governed, as stipulated by the constitution of the African Union. He noticed there were not many studies about “African ways of evaluating things,” which could help leaders understand how to turn evaluations into actual policies.

The study recommends inclusive participation in evaluation input, activities aligned with government plans, institutionalizing government-wide reporting on National Plan of Action implementation, and establishing a well-domesticated legal framework.

After his April 2024 graduation, Kizito now envisions providing advisory services and contributing to the development of short courses on policy-related matters. 

“I believe there are many individuals that need this knowledge but cannot commit to a PhD program due to time constraints, so developing a short course in policy-related matters is paramount,” he said.

Sustainable Development Goals publication

UCU Professor Omona and 3 Scholars from Kenya and Zimbabwe Co-author Remarkable Publication in Sustainable Development Goals Series

The Rev. Assoc. Prof. David Andrew Omona, a scholar at Uganda Christian University (UCU) and three other academics have co-edited a book that was recently published under Springer Nature’s inaugural Sustainable Development Goals Series.

The book titled Religion, Climate Change and Food Security in Africa examines how and the extent to which religion in Africa serves a resource in responding to the Sustainable Development Goals 13 (action on climate change) and 2 (achieve zero hunger, food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture).

The other editors of the book include Loreen Maseno ( Senior Lecturer, Department of Religion, Theology and Philosophy at Maseno University, Kenya), Ezra Chitando ( University of Zimbabwe) and Sophia Chirongoma ( Midland State University, Zimbabwe).

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Abstract

There is a growing realization that the earth is clearly warming at a worrying pace. Goal 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicates that climate change is an existential crisis, while Goal 2 seeks to achieve Zero Hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Climate change has far-reaching effects for agriculture and other livelihood activities which ensure the availability, suitability, distribution, and accessibility of food.

In the midst of the war in Ukraine and its ripple effect on food prices, it is therefore urgent to interrogate how and to what extent religion in Africa serves as a resource (or confounding factor) in responding to Sustainable Development Goals 13 (action on climate change) and 2 (achieve Zero Hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture).

The themes in this book are approached from diverse disciplinary and methodological angles to cover four main aspects: first, to probe the potential role of religion in Africa in accelerating the achievement of these two SDGs. Second, to problematize the influence of religion and the challenges it poses toward responding to the climate emergency and the elimination of hunger in Africa.

Third, to approach the religions of Africa in their plurality, guaging their strategic significance in light of the two emergencies. Fourth, to probe religious teachings, practices, personalities, and institutions in Africa in the wake of SDGs 13 and 2 as they wrestle with the interplay among religion, climate change, and the dimensions of food security in Africa.

About the Sustainable Development Goals Series

The Sustainable Development Goal Series is Springer Nature’s inaugu­ral cross-imprint book series that addresses and supports the United Nations’ seventeen Sustainable Development Goals.

The series fosters comprehensive research focused on these global targets and endeavours to address some of society’s greatest grand challenges. The SDGs are inher­ently multidisciplinary, and they bring people working across different fields together and working towards a common goal.

In this spirit, the Sustainable Development Goals series is the first at Springer Nature to publish books under both the Springer and Palgrave Macmillan imprints, bringing the strengths of our imprints together.

The Sustainable Development Goals Series is organized into eighteen subseries: one subseries based around each of the seventeen respective Sustainable Development Goals, and an eighteenth subseries, “Connecting the Goals”, which serves as a home for volumes addressing multiple goals or studying the SDGs as a whole. Each subseries is guided by an expert Subseries Advisor with years or decades of experience studying and addressing core components of their respective Goal.

About Prof. Omona

The Rev. Assoc. Prof. David Andrew Omona is Dean of the UCU School of Social Sciences and an Associate Professor of Ethics and International Relations at Uganda Christian Christian University. His research interests are in Ethics and International Relations. Currently he is engaged in researching on climate change, as an ethical issue that has affected humanity globally. He has done substantial work on peace and security at international level. He therefore, looks forward to get people of like minds for collaborative research experience in his area of expertise.(More About Assoc. Prof. Omona)

Head Teachers' Publication UCU education

Education: UCU Researchers Reveal Head Teacher’s Critical Role in Inclusive Education

By Jimmy Siyasa

Overview of Research

In a joint research publication by Dr. Mary Kagoire Ochieng and Dr. Faith Mbabazi Musinguzi, alongside three scholars from Busitema University and Health Tutors College Mulago, a significant correlation between the head teacher’s support role and the achievement of quality inclusive education in selected secondary schools was discovered.

The study, titled “Head Teacher’s Support Role on the Quality of Inclusive Education in Secondary Schools in Iganga District,” established that secondary school administrations implementing certain best practices are more likely to realize inclusive education quality. These practices include;

  • Continuous professional development workshops
  • Staff welfare initiatives
  • Support supervision
  • Provision of teaching aids, among other constant factors.

These research findings in the U.K-based Advances in Social Sciences and Management, a monthly online publication by the Open-Source Journals under the Public Knowledge Project, shed light on the importance of effective leadership in fostering inclusive education environments.

Publication Abstract

The study investigated the Head Teacher’s support Role in the Quality of Inclusive Education in Secondary Schools in the Iganga District. It examined the head teacher’s mandates in the realization of quality inclusive education in selected secondary schools.

Explicitly, the study determined the influence of the head teacher’s support role on the quality of inclusive education in secondary schools. This study adopted a cross-sectional survey design, drawing on quantitative and qualitative research approaches with a sample size of 83 respondents. Interview guides and questionnaires were used for data collection. SPSS software version 23 was used with a focus on descriptive statistics. The verbatim method was used for qualitative data.

The study revealed that there was a moderate positive or constructive significant correlation between the head teacher’s support role and achievement of quality inclusive education in selected secondary Schools. The study established that putting in place continuous professional development workshops, welfare, giving support supervision and provision of teaching aids, while other factors or issues remain constant, is most likely to better the process of inclusive education quality in secondary school.

Conclusively the study revealed that the Head teacher’s planning, support and motivation cannot work in isolation in the attainment of quality inclusive education. Monetary and non-monetary ways greatly influence the quality of inclusive education. Also, the study recommends head teachers make relevant plans and increase support and motivation to uplift secondary schools’ quality of inclusive education.

For more information and to access the full study, click here.

About the authors

Lastone Balyaino, researcher at Busitema University; Dr. Charles Muweesi, a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Sciences and Education, Busitema University; Dr. Kagoire serves as the Dean of the UCU School of Education, Isabirye Christopher from Health Tutors College; and Dr. Faith Mbabazi, Head of the Education department at UCU.

UCU Research Study

Plant Reproduction: A Breakthrough Study at UCU

Quick Overview

A team of researchers from Uganda Christian University (UCU) Faculty of Agricultural Sciences who a few months ago embarked on a journey to explore plant reproduction, focusing on African eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum) – varieties, including the Shum -Nakati and Gilo -Ntula cultivars; have published findings from their intriguing study.

The findings of the study titled Compatibility Barriers affecting Crossability of Solanum Aethipicum and its relatives published in Euphytica, an international journal that covers the theoretical and applied aspects of plant breeding, under Springer Nature, a prestigious German-British publisher; have ignited a buzz in the academic community.

In this insightful study, by Ms. Winnie NamutosiProf Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito  Dr. Rosemary Bulyaba, Dr. Godfrey Sseremba,  Ms. Mildred Julian Nakanwagi & Ms. Ruth Buteme ( All UCU scholars), the researchers delved into reproductive barriers that hinder the breeding of African egg plants. Their mission? To discover the critical reproductive barriers and pave the way for enhanced germplasm utilization and genetic improvement of this species.

The study utilized advanced methodologies to explore compatibility barriers between African eggplant and its botanical counterparts. Through a randomized complete block design and a full diallel mating method, the researchers evaluated crossability and floral traits of six genotypes across four different species (S. aethiopicum, S. anguivi, S. Macrocarpon and S. incanum) over two seasons.

Their findings revealed fascinating insights into the reproductive behavior of African eggplant. From the timing of flower opening to the receptivity of stigma, from pollen quantity to viability, each aspect was meticulously examined and analyzed. Moreover, the study shed light on the intriguing phenomenon of self-compatibility and interspecific crossbreeding, uncovering the pivotal role of female parent functioning in the success of such endeavors.

One of the standout discoveries was the remarkable performance of the Shum cultivar of Solanum aethiopicum as a female parent in crossbreeding experiments. This finding underscores the significance of understanding the dynamics of plant reproductive biology and its implications for breeding programs aimed at enhancing crop resilience and productivity.

Click here for similar studies.

Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Book

New Book: Dralega, C.A., and Napakol, A. (eds). Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Springer, Cham.

A Review

This is an open-access book that brings together leading scholars and critical discourses on political, economic, legal, technological, socio-cultural and systemic changes and continuities intersecting media and health crises in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The volume extensively discusses COVID-19 but it also covers other epidemics, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS as well as “silent” health crises such as mental health—simmering across the subcontinent.

The chapters fill knowledge gaps, highlight innovations, and unpack the complexities surrounding the media ecosystem in times of health crises. They explore, among other issues, the politics of public health communication; infodemics; existential threats to media viability; draconian legislations; threats to journalists/journalism; COVID-related entrepreneurship, marginalization, and more.

This is a timely resource for academics, advocacy groups, media practitioners and policymakers working on crises and media reporting, not just in Africa but anywhere in the global South.

Foreword

…Some African responses on media and health issues are examined in this book by a whole new generation of public health communicators who are homegrown, African graduates, sometimes of international research and training collaborations, who are responding to their own particular national environments. Just as African scholarship and health campaign strategy can positively inform global approaches, the support of the big Northern publishers—in this case, Springer—is just as important. Where the earlier generation cut their teeth on HIV/AIDS, the new generation seems destined to deal with successive and increasingly intense and interrelated crises: health, climate change and environmental degradation. Thus this is one book that can speak intelligently to these issues from the perspective of the Global South. And, the task that they are taking on is herculean.Foreword by Keyan Gray Tomaselli– University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

The book cover and contents can be accessed here: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-95100-9

About the Editors

Dralega

Dr. Carol Azungi Dralega is an Associate Professor and Head of Research at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, NLA University College, Kristiansand, Norway. She holds a Ph.D. in Media and Communication Studies from the University of Oslo, Norway.

Napakol

Dr. Angella Napakol is a researcher and Senior Lecturer at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Uganda Christian University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication/Media Studies, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

How conspiracy beliefs affect COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy

By Dr. Emilly Comfort Maractho

The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2020 created substantial fear among communities and countries about the future. It seemed to have come from ‘nowhere’ even after China announced its arrival. Many questions arose as to whether it was deliberately created and released by scientists and their allies for some unknown reasons. 

Governments across the globe launched interventions to facilitate the public’s compliance with preventive and mitigative measures, also known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The measures included physical distancing also known as social distancing, regular handwashing, wearing masks, and vaccination to boost herd immunity

Speculation soon became a common feature of COVID-19, about the cause, the effects, and the people behind it. Theories begun to emerge around these issues. 

Uganda enacted legislations, restrictions, policies and interventions to prevent and mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19. These included, but were not limited to, the Uganda Public Health (Control of COVID – 19) Rules, 2020; guidelines on mass gatherings including social meetings such as burials and weddings; guidelines on meeting at workplaces, guidelines on use of public transport; among others.  

Whereas the world was relieved about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, emergent concerns around safety and effects were prevalent. The concerns and doubts about vaccines were mainly driven by conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccination, sometimes widely shared among the population.  

Conspiracy theories cannot be taken lightly. At Uganda Christian University, Prof. Kukunda Elizabeth Bacwayo, an Associate Prof. of Governance and Development in the School of Social Sciences, with a multi-disciplinary team of colleagues from UCU were awarded a research grant by the university to study how conspiracy beliefs affected COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in Uganda. In a three-year project that covers a large-scale online and physical survey of over 1000 respondents, to be followed by in-depth interviews, the team aims at examining the conspiracy beliefs and their implications for COVID-19 vaccination in Uganda. 

The research is guided by five specific objectives, namely: 

(i) To measure the extent to which conspiracy belief about vaccination against COVID-19 is spread among Ugandans; 

(ii) To establish the relationship between conspiracy belief and vaccination hesitancy in Uganda; 

(iii) To explore the interaction between exposure to COVID-19 conspiracy theories and individual vaccination decisions; 

(iv) To examine the gendered impact of conspiracy belief on vaccination hesitancy; 

(v) To examine how the conspiracy beliefs of adults are likely to affect decision to vaccinate children for COVID-19.  

The researchers note that, whereas in developed countries studies have already established the significant relationship between conspiracy theories and decline in vaccination rates, such studies are very few in developing countries. For instance, Maftei and Holman in 2020, in their study, ‘beliefs in conspiracy theories, intolerance of uncertainty, and moral disengagement during the coronavirus crisis’ highlighted that conspiracy beliefs had significant impact on disobeying the social distancing regulations seeking to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers are aware that in countries like Uganda with a population highly characterized by low education and poor access to information, beliefs in conspiracy theories and impact are expected to be high.  Still, little is known and done to minimize the impact of misinformation on COVID-19 prevention. In addition, with more people owning smartphones, conspiracy theories are likely to flourish as a result of high exposure to various ideas. 

Some of the examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The belief that the G5 cellular network is responsible for causing COVID-19,
  • Bill Gates’ plan to depopulate the world,
  • Vaccinations having microchips that can be used to monitor behaviour. 
  • Others include the belief that those who get vaccinated will die in a few years, and that the whole COVID-19 pandemic was a political stunt.  

The primary outcome of this study is to understand how conspiracy beliefs affect the individual willingness to get vaccinated. Findings from this study could be used to improve on the efforts geared towards pro-vaccine attitudes and interest in COVID-19 vaccination. The main outcome will be a change in behavior towards vaccination for COVID-19 despite the existence of conspiracy theories and management of future vaccination drives.

The research has gone through both institutional and national ethical clearance processes. The first phase has been completed and will soon be made public. 

UCU partners with German-based universities on renewable energy and more

KTN Factory

By Jimmy Siyasa

“Renewables are by far the cheapest form of power today,” once remarked Francesco La Camera, the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This is a fact. Not only that, but they are also the most eco-friendly forms of energy humanity can have today.

We live in a time where the ecosystem is under daily attack; being sacrificed on the altar of development/industrialization, and needs a “saviour”.

An April 2022 study this year by the World Economic Forum found that by 2020, only a slight “9% of all energy generated in Africa came from renewable sources,” yet the continent has massive potential to be a leading player in the global renewable energy sector.

Europe1
Germany: Prof. Mushengyezi meets with the President of Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences, Prof. Uta Feser, and the Vice President for Internationalization, Prof. Elmar Steurer.

In response to this challenge, Uganda Christian University (UCU) has embarked on the pursuit of partnerships, especially with various institutions of higher learning in big-player countries regarding renewables. The latest are German-based universities.

Early this week, the UCU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, met with the President of Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU), Prof. Uta Feser, and the Vice President for Internationalization, Prof. Elmar Steurer, in Germany. They discussed the possibility of joint projects, among other mutual pursuits.

Prof. Mushengyezi and Prof. Feser also agreed to renew the partnership agreement focusing on research and student exchange.

UCU and HNU have been implementing a project on renewable energy (solar project) in the Koome Islands, led by Dr. Miria Agunyo, Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Kizito, Dr. Stephen Kyakulumbye and Dr. Jeremy Waiswa; who are all UCU researchers and some senior academic administrators.

The solar power project named the “Implementation of Solar Mini-Grids for Digital Learning Models in the Rural Areas of Uganda,” seeks to provide access to reliable electricity and clean energy for the islanders who have known darkness for years.

The UCU team also visited Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences in Munich. It specializes in agriculture-related disciplines and renewable energy. Discussions with the university management focused on the possibilities of partnerships in agricultural, food science, and renewable energy areas. Thereafter, the UCU toured the KTN Factory, based in Bavaria, Germany. It is one of the industry partners of HNU.

  • Prof. Mushengyezi exchanges a gift with Prof. UFeser,
  • KTN FactoryUCU team visiting KTN Factory, one of the industry partners with HNU.