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

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.

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.

COVID-19 and the Media in Sub-Saharan Africa: Media viability, Framing and Health Communication

By Jimmy Siyasa

This book, published by Emerald Publishing House, is an amalgam of research works seeking the nexus between Media and COVID-19 from a diversity of perspectives, though with a strict focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

The global outbreak of COVID-19 led to a rise in research studies seeking to understand the nexus between Media and COVID-19. However, little attention had been paid to this subject in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa. This book is an attempt to address this research gap by providing a comprehensive overview of the role of media in the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. It contains contributions from leading scholars in the field, with many of them active academics and industry players at Uganda Christian University (UCU), who offer a variety of perspectives on the topic.

The book is edited by Dr. Carol Azungi Dralega of NLA University College, Norway, and Dr. Angella Napakol of Uganda Christian University, Uganda.

ABRIDGED FOREWORD

Click here to get the Full Book

COVID-19 and the Media in Sub-Saharan Africa is among the first books uniting scholars to examine media viability, framing and health crisis communication connected to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. The findings may be applicable also to other global crises, both in and outside of Sub-Saharan Africa, and may help practitioners and scholars alike to understand the complexity of preconditions and structures of media ecologies.

The highly diverse cases are characterized by the authors’ first-hand knowledge of the media in the Sub-Saharan African context. Focusing on newly collected cases from a broad number of countries, the authors study whether the pandemic changed the conditions for media viability, framing, and outreach. It also covers concrete examples of how the specific health communication led to changes in social behaviour and mental health. Last, but not least, it provides gendered and marginalisation lenses to understand barriers for media users and media producers.

The highly diverse cases are characterized by the authors’ first-hand knowledge of the media in the Sub-Saharan African context. Focusing on newly collected cases from a broad number of countries, the authors study whether the pandemic changed the conditions for media viability, framing, and outreach. It also covers concrete examples of how the specific health communication led to changes in social behaviour and mental health. Last, but not least, it provides gendered and marginalisation lenses to understand barriers for media users and media producers.

Throughout the pandemic, publishing houses in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world faced severe obstacles. In different ways, the pandemic influenced the room for manoeuvres. Different conditions were involved and influenced whether media content was published, and with what quality. Three factors were key: political conditions, financial resources, and the level of journalistic expertise. If there was political room for manoeuvre, if there were sufficient financial resources, and if there was a high level of competence, the media was often found to disseminate independent, critical, and research-based information, monitor public institutions, and provide a platform for public debate and dialogue.

The authors connect these factors with media viability and media framing. Based on empirical data and theoretical perspectives, they challenge traditional understandings of media. To understand factors preventing and promoting critical and fact-based media during the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers looked at both the media’s finances and priorities, the individual journalist’s competence and resilience, and the political influence that publishing houses and journalists were exposed to through propaganda and restrictions on media freedom.

Margot Skarpeteig Program Manager– Human Rights, Inclusion and Empowerment, the World Bank

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. 

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.

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

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.

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.

UCU signs MoU with UNBS to standardize academic products

By Jimmy Siyasa

Uganda Christian University (UCU) and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at collaborating on the formulation and promotion of quality standards in Institutions of Higher Learning.

According to the MoU signed on Wednesday, UCU will operate in the core capacity of a ‘research agency’, and supply the Bureau of Standards with the necessary research data that will inform the standardization of curricula, short courses, student internships, and training, among others, nationally.

In return, UCU students will be attached to the internationally accredited laboratories of UNBS and trained on how to undertake quality analysis of product samples, in order to establish safety features UNBS considers before certifying a product. 

“Part of our mentoring and coaching of the university students will involve attaching them to our international standard laboratories,” said David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of UNBS, who further noted that it is important that students are initiated into a “quality culture” while they are still university.

“The students are future manufacturers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Therefore, it is important that we try to create awareness on quality standards before they go out into the business world,” he said.

The recruitment of UCU trainees in the laboratories will in the long run enrich the manpower at UNBS, easing the problem of “understaffing”, which was cited as a major challenge in the agency’s 2020/2021 Annual Report to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.

“The university takes excellence as its mark and this is what we hope for in what we do. So we are very excited for this opportunity since we are at a point where we are transitioning into a research-based university,” said Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito, Director of the Research, Partnership and Innovations directorate. “

UCU’s Vice-Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi welcomed the initiative in his speech. “We are ready to work with you on developing standardization curricula, quality assurance courses, teach standards to students and our staff, and other people out there,” Mushengyezi said, after signing the MoU, during the ceremony held at the UCU Principals’hall.  

The UNBS team led by Executive Director David Livingstone Ebiru (Front row- 2nd Lt) and UCU top management staff led by the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi ( Front row- 2nd Rt)pose after the signing of the MoU. Photo/ Jimmy Siyasa

This is the first Memorandum of Understanding that the Bureau gets to sign with a Ugandan University for this cause; UCU has been prioritized as a piloting ground for the project before it can be extended to tertiary institutions and other universities- both private and public. 

School of Law receives Humanitarian Law books from ICRC

By Muduku Derrick Brian 

The Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Law has received a donation of publications and books on the subject of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), from the International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC). The assortment of literature, delivered in multiple khaki boxes, was handed over to Miriam Aceng, Associate Dean at the School of Law by Jane Patricia Bako, a representative of ICRC, yesterday, Friday, March 25, 2022. 

The donation comes to enrich the School’s International Humanitarian Law literature stock and to further enhance the knowledge base of students that undertake the course unit, during their course of study.

“This is a great initiative for the School. Students here offer International Humanitarian Law as an elective course unit in their fourth year of study. These books will help them in their academic work,” said Miriam Aceng, while receiving the assortment at the School’s premises. 

She also noted that the publications will aid students currently writing their dissertations in line with Humanitarian law and those who participate in international law moots and essay competitions will especially benefit from the donation. 

Aceng says that the books will be accessible to all students.” We are going to have some copies here at the School but also a shelf will be set up in the library for students to access these books,” she said in the presence of the Acting Deputy Librarian, David Bukenya.

Some of the book samples. Photo/ Derrick Muduku.

Speaking on behalf of ICRC- Uganda, Bako, the organization’s Communication and Prevention Manager, appreciated UCU’s focus on IHL as a course unit and said the organization was eager to boost the School’s effort in equipping students with knowledge within that field.

Bako noted that a survey they conducted revealed UCU as the only university in Uganda offering IHL as a full course unit; a finding that impressed ICR; hence the donation. “We know that UCU is the only University that teaches International Humanitarian Law as a course unit of its own, unlike other universities which fuse it with International law,” she said

“These books will ensure that there is teaching and reading material that will ensure that students understand this concept even more.”

Bako also challenged the administration to ensure that with possession of such knowledge, students are enlightened enough in the legal aspects of IHL, in order to address the issues that affect society such as police brutality, human rights violation, among other socio-political or economic evils. 

Agnes Kabatooro, a law student who witnessed the handover ceremony was excited about the new literature and said she was looking forward to benefiting from these publications so that she can achieve her dream of being a lawyer who will be of impact to society.

Miriam Aceng, Assoc. Dean of Law (L), David Bukenya Acting University Librarian (C), and Bako Jane, ICRC representative. Photo/ Derrick Muduku.

The donation comes as part of an ICRC effort to equip universities offering IHL with literature that would facilitate student learning. It had been a few days since they donated to Makerere, among other universities. 

The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance. Among its mandates is the facilitation of the incorporation of International Law in education institutions.

SSRC Symposium at UCU: Scholars speak out on experience

By Jimmy Siyasa

“It can be scary for your work to be criticized by other scholars; you never really outgrow that fear. But we have to be okay with others finding loopholes in your research work.”

Those words constituted the closing remarks of Dr. Emilly Maractho, convener of the 2022 Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC) symposium themed “Ideology, Identity and State Formation in East Africa”, held at Uganda Christian University (UCU). Emilly is the Director of Africa Policy Centre (APC) at UCU. She noted that the debates and discussions- laced with incisive criticism of some papers- that ensued during the symposium were crucial and relevant, especially to the scholars who had presented.

Emilly also reminded fellow scholars that academic criticism and/or rejection of one’s research should not be taken in bad faith, but instead, embraced as “cause” for the researcher “to go back and revisit your research”.

The two-day symposium started on February, 24-25, 2022, and attracted scholars from at least four universities including: Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and Uganda Martyrs University. They presented various papers, both complete studies and those underway; 14 papers were presented all together, on divergent topics, but all converging at the general theme.

Day two of the symposium started with a percipient keynote address by Prof. Apuuli Phillip Kasaijja, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Makerere University. He dissected the sub-theme “Resource-based Conflicts in Uganda”, crowning his presentation with a call upon the scholars in attendance to work hand in hand with policymakers in order to ensure that their research findings eventually, directly inform policy in the country.

Prof. Apuuli Phillip Kasaijja was a keynote speaker at the symposium. Photo/ Andrew Bugembe.

“People are doing a lot of original research. But it will not be helpful if it does not influence policy. It should be able to…,” said Prof. Kasaijja, arguing that part of the cause of this trend is an ‘unhealthy’ division between academics and politicians. He urged the two to forge common ground for coexistence because the former do research that the latter [ who don’t do research] need [because it is backed by empirical data] to make informed policies make policies.

The air inside the UCU Principals’ hall was rife with upbeat intellectual discourse as the different scholars presented their studies for peer-review, and therefore, scrutiny.

Jimmy Siyasa caught up with some of the scholars to learn their experience from the symposium and reflections on its significance and relevance to Uganda’s academic and policy landscape. [Photos by Andrew Bugembe]

This is a very important conference. I am very grateful to the convener because it is very important for us scholars to meet and share our experiences on our journey as academics, but also on how to impact policy and practice in our country. Other scholars [from other universities] should take the initiative to be part of such arrangements because it is one of the best ways to mentor the younger generation of scholars.

Dr. Resty Naiga, Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, at Makerere University

The symposium was fantastic and a great opportunity to meet some of the scholars we had taken long without meeting. It was also a good introduction to the research of other scholars and insights from their fields of study. It really rejuvenates and helps us to also shape our own thoughts. I noticed that some of the people here are rich in methodology and different things, although, interestingly, much of the work presented was related. Generally, there was a lot to learn from each presenter. We have left different people challenged to revisit their work and to work harder, while encouraged that they are on the right track. We hope these papers will be published eventually, and the knowledge disseminated because we have agreed on polishing the works for publication.

Dr. Robert Ojambo, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department of History and Political Science.Kyambogo University

First of all, I love the UCU environment. Perfect. I thought Makerere was the highlight of everything [a University should be in Africa], but this is a beautiful space [for thinking and studying]. As far as the conversation in the symposium is concerned, I felt at home because the scholarly topics and faces I interacted with were familiar. The debates were top-quality debates. So, I am happy, I enjoyed every bit of it and was not disappointed at any point.

Yosef Sintayehu Jemberie, Ph.D. Candidate at Makerere Social Research Institute (MISR)

Fascinating papers! Fascinating presentations. The keynote today [Day two] was on-point for me. High-level engagement! I was inspired by some of the young people, the students inside the room who were asking very critical questions without feeling intimidated by the PhDs and Professors present. It was good watching some of the students I mentored present papers. When we come together from different backgrounds, we have a larger conversation, otherwise, we are always talking to each other and there is nothing new. For me what excited me was hearing from people coming from elsewhere [other universities]. We should think about organizing research panels in order to generate synergy that often comes in handy when writing grant proposals as a panel as opposed to individual effort.

Dr. Pamela Kanakhwa, Lecturer Department of History, Archaeology, and Heritage Studies at Makerere

This symposium was excellent because it has brought us together, and the focus on “State, security…” was very clear and relevant. The presentations were great and everyone participated. This symposium is going to take us a long way into academia, specifically exiting gaps in the available literature. Most researches were empirical, others desk studies, but were all informing policy and existing gaps we have in knowledge as a country.

Dr. Specioza Twinamatsiko, Lecturer, MUST

For me, this was a fascinating experience. I would like to thank the Africa Policy Centre at UCU for organizing this symposium. My major highlight is the experience of sitting in an interdisciplinary conference: People have different approaches to research. So, this was very fascinating and exciting for me. Secondly, I am happy to have disseminated my finding about the experiences of children living with violent caregivers. I am grateful that I was able to attend.

Herbert Twinamatsiko, Ph.D Candidate, MUST

The symposium brings to us the academic engagement that we have been missing for a long time. It has enabled us to; sit down, discuss, theorize, and think beyond the boundaries, and critic one another’s work. That is my major highlight. It was an opportunity to interact with fellow scholars and I think we should have it more often. It is a platform to speak a common language; when you speak to most of the people out there sometimes, it is like you are speaking Greek; because you are talking about theory, methodology, informing policy, etc. It is like you are speaking to the wrong audience. But here, you are able to engage, wrap your head around concepts and how they can be applied in real life, societies and our community for their betterment.

Dr. Ronald Kalyango Sebba, lecturer in the School of Women and Gender Studies Makerere University

As Africa Policy Centre, this is why we exist; to do research that informs policy and therefore, these were insightful and relevant discussions. I am happy with this meeting and that it happened. I have gotten to meet and know people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their field. I hope that we are not going to stop this conversation here and I look forward to the time when we can have an annual symposium.”

Dr. Emilly Comfort Maractho, Director, APC, UCU

Background

The symposium convened the inaugural Uganda Fellows of The Africa Peacebuilding Network (APN) and the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa (NextGen), both programs of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), courtesy of APC, UCU, which collaborated with the former institution(s). The APC is a Think Tank at UCU which aims at advancing research and evidence-based policies in Africa, whereas the SSRC is an independent, international non-profit organization that fosters innovative research by supporting scholars through its Africa-related programs.

The symposium brings together former Uganda-based grantees of the two programs to present and receive feedback from their peers on their latest research projects. Open to the wider university public, the symposium shall involve paper presentations from the alumni.

Dr. Emilly Maractho publishes and launches health research report

By Jimmy Siyasa

The Uganda Christian University (UCU) Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Finance and Administration, David Mugawe, has launched a health research report by Dr. Emilly Maractho, the Director of Africa Policy Centre. The report, which was launched on February 23, 2022, is the result of a collaborative health research between UCU and US-based Lehigh University. Dr. Maractho is one of five scholars, four from Lehigh, who prepared the report; they include: Judith Lasker, Sirry Alang and Kelly Austin.

At the launch, Mugawe, noted that the study, entitled “Enhancing the value of Short term volunteer missions in health from host country perspectives: The Case of Uganda,” is timely and brings relevant empirical data that is of utility to national stakeholders in the health sector. “This report, as a case study of Uganda, is going to be a point of reference and source of empirical data that will inform and influence policymakers and other relevant stakeholders that are looking for such data to advocate for change, investment, etc.”

David Mugawe receives a copy of Dr. Emilly’s research. Photo: Andrew Bugemebe.

Mugawe also welcomed more like research partnerships with other universities, acclaiming Lehigh’s collaboration with UCU. He further emphasized UCU’s robust commitment to the research agenda, encouraging other UCU scholars to publish their works, while counting on full university support. “This is exciting, for us to see products that are homegrown, and we are glad for the partnership [with Lehigh university],” Mugawe said.

“Within top management, we do have research as a key agenda and this has been seen in our [significant] budgeting for 2022. As a University, we’ve supported research initiatives by some of our professors, who [early this year] formed teams and competed for a grant that the University did award.”

During her presentation to both an online and physical audience that had gathered at the UCU Principals’ Hall, Dr. Maractho noted that her research study, which kicked off in 2018, was inspired by the overall health needs of Uganda, which relate to Short Term Medical Missions (STMMs).

Within the context of the research study, STMMs refer to the various medical teams that come to an area to offer medical assistance within the host communities for a given period of time, then later return to their countries of origin.

According to the study, by 2018, Uganda was having a rapid population growth, especially within the rural areas, a trend which made them more susceptible to STMMs, and therefore, there was an overwhelming need to assess, “ the perspectives of host communities on STMMs, their practice from host country perspectives, the extent to which sending organization aligns with host communities in order to understand their need and, final, the regulatory and policy environment within which they operate in host communities,” Dr. Maractho said.

She also noted that by 2018, STMMs involved about 1.6 million volunteers and were estimated at US$ 2-3 billion annually. The majority of the STMMs came from the USA (46%), followed by Europe (36%), then Asia (13%), among other origins.

Data for the study was collected from 10 districts which included: Gulu, Nebbi, Arua, Lira, Mbale, Kasese, Mbarara, Bududa, Kampala and Mukono

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