Research and Innovation

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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. 

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.”

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. 

UCU signs partnership agreement with AIIJ

By Jimmy Siyasa

Uganda Christian University (UCU) and the Africa Institute of Investigative Journalism (AIIJ) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement marks the beginning of a partnership between the UCU and School of Journalism, Media and Communication (SJMC) and AIIJ on various academic and media industry-related areas.

Solomon Sserwanja, the Executive Director at AIIJ, said the partnership was a long-awaited opportunity to partner on “advancing investigative journalism in areas of training, capacity building, resource and resource mobilization,” with UCU and, therefore, was highly welcomed.

On her part, Prof. Monica Chibita, the Dean of SJMC said the partnership will enable collaboration with AIIJ in areas such as “internship, research, visiting lectureship, teaching short courses and partnerships for securing scholarships for investigative journalism at MA and Ph.D. levels at UCU.”

Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the team from AIIJ led by Solomon Sserwanja, Prof. Monica Chibita and other guests going for a photoshoot after signing the agreement. Photo: Courtesy of AIIJ.

During the ceremony, graced by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, acclaimed the partnership saying it would enrich the training of students at SJMC to embrace investigative journalism because some media stories, indeed, “require more research and digging in and that is why investigative journalism is important”.

The partnership was signed on eve of the International Women’s Day, annually celebrated on March 08. Together UCU and AIIJ organized a dialogue hosted by the former, to discuss the role of women and their inclusion in the discipline of investigative journalism.

The panel: Dr. Anette Kezaabu- Head of Post Graduate Studies, SJMC (Far right), Anna Reisman- Country Representative, KAS Uganda and South Sudan (Far left), Cecilia Okoth- Multimedia investigative journalist at New Vision (3rd Right) and Dr. Patricia Litho- Communication Specialist (2nd Left).

During the panel discussion comprised of five, prominent women in the media industry and academia in Uganda, the moderator, Raymond Mujuni, Deputy Executive Director at AIIJ, noted that only a few women in the newsroom were practicing investigative journalism.

“There are only 24% females in the newsroom. If you look at the ACME awards which award exceptional journalism, only 7% of awards have been won by female journalists. When I walk around the newsroom, I see fewer women,” Raymond said.

With the intent to encourage female journalists to embrace investigative journalism, a documentary film entitled A thousand cuts. The film captures the journalistic work of Maria Rossa, a Nobel-Prize winner and investigative journalist, whose remarkable investigative journalism works revealed ongoing corruption and abuse of power in the Philippines, in the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte, who was infamous for Press repression.

In light of the film, Dr. Annette Kezaabu, Head of Postgraduate studies at SJMC and also one of the panelists, urged young women to work hard like Maria Rossa and to not expect the ‘easy way up’. She cautioned them against “the love of money” that often causes one to compromise on moral values, further encouraging them to endure the humble, and due process in the newsroom that rising to the top of the media industry entails.

This is one of many, major partnerships UCU has consecutively signed with various notable institutions this year, 2022.

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

UCU Directorate for Research, Partnerships and Innovation: The Vision

By Jimmy Siyasa

At the end of 2021, the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Council sat and carefully contemplated a way to fortify the UCU aspects of Research, Partnerships, Innovation, Postgraduate studies. Among the results of the meeting was the evolution of what was once the School of Research and Postgraduate Studies, headed by the Assoc. Prof Elizabeth Kukunda Bacwayo, as Dean.

The School has since evolved into two Directorates; one for Postgraduate Studies and the other for Research, Partnerships and Innovation. The former is headed by the Assoc. Prof Bacwayo and the latter by Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito, both serving as Directors.

This evolution centralizes the two entities to their forte, in accordance with the University’s Strategic Plan 2019/2023. The Directorate of Research, Partnerships and Innovations (DPRI) will now henceforth- as its nomenclature suggests- focus strictly on grants, partnerships and innovation aspects of the University.

Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito is the Director of DPRI at UCU.

Recently it rolled out a strategic plan on research with a commitment to “promote rigorous, focused research that leads to improved understanding as well as innovations to solve specific challenges in Uganda and abroad,” according to the document, as presented by the Director, Assoc. Prof. Kizito.

She notes that research is integral for university ranking world over, and therefore ought to be a prime focus area for investment. “Higher institutions are increasingly subject to comparisons and rankings, and those deemed to be the best in these rankings of research universities will continue to be considered the best in the world,” she noted.

In her presentation, she further argues that for universities to maintain and improve their global competitiveness, “there is need among others to build a niche focus, internalization, apply innovative teaching and research systems and a well-formulated and strategic plan.”

Background

A committee was instituted by Senate in October 2020 to assess UCU’s research and innovation environment and productivity and to make recommendations to enable the creation of a more robust research infrastructure and environment.

Several aspects of the institution’s day-to-day operations were scrutinized by the committee, including “policies and plans, structure and management of research and innovation, funding for research and grants management, research outputs and dissemination, quality assurance and ethics, M&E and partnerships,” according to the DPRI director’s presentation.

Recommendations

Upon evaluation of the status, the committee made many recommendations which were captured in the Vice-Chancellor, Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi’s report on Research, Partnership and Innovations. The recommendations included:

Defining of structures and responsibilities to faculty and department level

Consultations on developing an inclusive and mission-aligned University research agenda

Identify our niche, building of school/ faculty research teams

Mapping of specialties of academic staff to align with new RPI strategy

Building the capacity of research managers and teams

Mobilizing resources for appropriate infrastructure, and more.

Prof. MUshengyezi (Right) and Prof. Maxine Ankrah pose after signing the lease agreement.

Just this year alone, the institution has signed Memoranda of Understanding and sealed agreements with at least three institutions, notably Tokyo Christian University, Hanze University in the Netherlands, and Ankrah Foundation Limited.

Therefore, it is not uneasy to see the UCU vision- A Centre for excellence in the heart of Africa- manifest sooner than, otherwise expected.

Ankrah officially hands over premises to UCU

By Jimmy Siyasa

Uganda Christian University (UCU), formally received the Ankrah Foundation premises on February 03, 2022, during a handover ceremony witnessed by a UCU delegation headed by the Vice-Chancellor, Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi. The handover postdates a lease agreement signed earlier in November 2021, between UCU and Ankrah Foundation Limited, currently headed by  Prof. Eleanor Maxine Ankrah, who is the Managing Director of the Foundation. 

As part of the ten-year-long, renewable lease agreement, UCU will now utilize the facilities for various purposes including establishing resource centres, accommodation spaces for students, office spaces, and more. Prof. Mushengyezi who was UCU’s representative signatory also officially received keys to the estates during a handover ceremony held at the home of Professor Maxine, located on Besania hill, Mukono. He noted that the generous offer by Ankrah Foundation would enrich UCU’s service provision to her major stakeholders in many ways and, therefore, was highly appreciated.

Prof. Mushengyezi receives the lease documents from Prof. Eleanor Maxine Ankrah. Photo/ Jimmy Siyasa.

 “Today is a happy day at UCU and at the Ankrah Foundation because we have officially received the property and all the keys and copies of titles to facilitate the transfer of the lease to UCU for 10 years,” he said. 

Prof. Mushengyezi also noted that due to the pivotal role of the couple- Prof. Maxine and her Late husband Canon Ankrah Kodwo in the establishment of various socioeconomic development fora in the Church of Uganda, it is important that UCU- being Church-founded maintains a good relationship with the Foundation. “It is significant for UCU and the Ankrah Foundation to work together so that we can move forward and preserve that vision which was started by Canon Kodwo and Maxine,” he emphasized.

Prof. Maxine mentioned that the partnership with UCU is one sure way to “stay linked to the Church,” an entity that not only her husband cared for so much, but one that both of them desired to serve, as missionaries.

David Mugawe, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Finance and Administration, who spoke on behalf of the rest of the UCU top management delegation assured the Ankrah Foundation management that UCU would exercise good stewardship of their leased property. “As UCU, we are grateful for the partnership. We want to pledge to Professor [Maxine] that we will take care of the property, value it and use it to the glory of God,” Mugawe said. 

UCU intends to renovate and turn into a students’ hostel a section of the estate, which was formerly a hospitality center. Bridget Mugume Mugasira, the Director of Student Affairs at UCU said the facility will offer “excellent accommodation for students”. She added that her office would work hand in hand with the Facilities and Capital Projects Directorate, headed by Eng. David Kivumbi, who was also present, to have it ready for use by Trinity Semester 2022.  “We are immediately starting to renovate the building so that it is available for use in the May Semester. I encourage students to prepare to book rooms there,” she said. 

An interior view of a lounge of the Ankrah facility to be renovated and turned into a guest house. Photo/ Jimmy Siyasa.

Early this year, the University administration appointed Prof. Maxine to serve as a visiting Professor in the Directorate of Postgraduate Studies. The appointment is but one of many courtesies UCU is extending to Prof. Ankrah, not only as part of the agreement but also and most importantly, in honour of her Late husband Canon Kodwo. Together, the couple has, since their arrival in Uganda, contributed significantly to socio-economic development with the Church of Uganda. They did so through various development fora, notably Planning, Development and Rehabilitation (PDR), a project through which they established schools, hospitals, and churches, among other Church-owned facilities.

The Vice-Chancellor believes that Prof. Maxine’s scholarly association to UCU will elevate the University’s profile given her sound, global reputation as a scholar. “With that docket and with the Ankrah Foundation Thinktank, we see her poised to lift the image of UCU worldwide because of her reputation all over the world and her connections,” he noted at the handover.

Prof. Aaron (Centre) and Prof Maxine (L-3rd) pose with the UCU delegation of some of the top management staff, including the DVC for Finance, David Mugawe (L- 2nd), DVC for Academic Affairs, Rev. Assoc. Prof John M. Kitayimbwa (R- 3rd), the DOSA, Bridget K. Mugume (R- 2nd), Director for Facilities and Capital Projects, Eng. David Kivumbi (R- 1st) and the Senior Legal Officer, Samson Wanamboka (L- 1st). Photo/ Jimmy Siyasa.
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