UCU student balances job opportunity and studies

By Irene Best Nyapendi
It began with a simple stroll around the bazaar grounds at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Derrick Matovu, a School of Business student, was there to see the latest trends within the exhibitors. That casual trip to the bazaar last year provided Matovu an unexpected opportunity.

He was especially drawn to a stall that belonged to Stabex International, a fuel and gas company in Uganda. Little did he know that his inquisitive demeanor attracted the attention of the stall owners. Before he knew it, the exhibitors asked if he was interested in being an ambassador for their Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) gas cylinders, which are largely used for cooking. And for that role, he would earn a commission of sh5,000 (about $1.3) for every gas cylinder sold to a buyer.

Matovu serves as a fuel pump attendant during the night shift at the fuel station.
Matovu serves as a fuel pump attendant during the night shift at the fuel station.

Matovu saw the opportunity as a godsend. At the time, he was a class leader, and was sure of leveraging that position to market the cylinders to his classmates. As the class leader, Matovu was the link between students in his class and the university administration, often helping to pass on to the students any communication from the university authorities, and vice versa. Matovu took advantage of the free time he had during the two weeks of the bazaar to market the gas cylinders at the event. He also took advantage of the class Whatsapp groups to market the cylinders.

That marketing activity in essence ushered Matovu into the practical side of the course that he is pursuing at UCU — Bachelor of Business Administration. And that was not even his initial program choice. The 29-year-old had wanted to pursue a science-related course. However, his father, a businessman, knew the benefits that his son would accrue as a business professional. He thus encouraged Matovu to pursue his current course.

For his internship, Matovu’s father secured for his son a placement at the country’s forestry agency, the National Forestry Authority. Again, this was against the wishes of Matovu who wanted to use the opportunity to further cement his relationship with Stabex International. He had secured an internship placement, but had to go with his father’s choice.

Matovu at his job
Matovu at his job

Matovu eventually formalized his relationship with Stabex International in November last year, getting employed as a fuel pump attendant. He underwent a two-week training at Stabex International fuel station branch in Mukono, but was employed at the Seeta branch, located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) away from UCU. 

“I chose to work to reduce the burden I was heaping on my sister and father who were providing the money,” Matovu, the second-born of three siblings, said. “I also knew that it was not possible to entirely depend on my family for upkeep.”

At Stabex, Matovu’s schedule is for night shift while at UCU, his classes take place during the day. He balances work and studies. 

His night shift as a fuel pump begins at 4:50 p.m. and ends at 6:50 a.m. Fortunately, he only has two lectures that start at 8 a.m. and on such days, he makes sure to be at his hostel by 7:20 a.m. to be able to prepare for class. 

On days when his classes start later in the day, he takes advantage of that to first catch some sleep, before he heads to the university for lectures.  

Balancing the demands of work and school, coupled with transportation expenses, has tested Matovu’s resolve. 

At his workplace, pump attendants are given allowance for meals, which he uses for his transport. Matovu spends sh6,000 ($1.6) on transport every day, which is beyond the amount they are given for lunch. To cater for the shortfall, on many days, he walks part of the distance. On other days, he may choose to forego lunch, so he saves some money for transport. On the few days he gets tips from customers, that serves as his transport top-up. 


UCU researchers seek to multiply bamboo production for more benefits

By Pauline Luba
Micropropagation refers to the growing of plants in closed vessels that contain culture media with nutrients and growth regulators. Since the plants are grown in glass, they are described as in vitro, as opposed to in vivo plants that are grown in soil.  

Knowing the multiple benefits and uses of the bamboo plant, Winnie Namutosi, a Uganda Christian University (UCU) alum and lecturer, and her co-researchers are currently in the laboratory in a bid to micropropagate this member of the grass family, using a growth medium that has nutrients and hormones.

To produce the micro propagated plants, clear protocols are needed. These protocols are not yet known, and that is what Namutosi and her colleague researchers— Prof. William Kisaalita, Joel Karama and Joseph Galiwango  — are attempting to develop. Namutosi also has worked with UCU academics and researchers Bulyaba Rosemary, Nakanwangi Mildred Julian, Buteme Ruth, Sseremba Godfrey and Kizito Elizabeth Balyejusa to decipher the reproductive barriers that hinder improvement of African eggplants. The study findings were published in Euphytica under the title “Compatibility Barriers affecting Crossability of Solanum aethiopicum and its relatives” 

Specimens of bamboo multiplication in the laboratory

It is no surprise that Namutosi is part of the group that is developing the bamboo tissue culture protocols. She comes from Sironko district in eastern Uganda, where smoked bamboo shoots are one of the staple foods. Locally known as malewa, the staple was originally served as a complete meal, but was later transformed into sauce, prepared with simsim paste or peanut butter. 

Bamboo shoots, which are eaten like vegetables, are a source of protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins E and C. It also can be burned for fuel, taking pressure off dwindling forest reserves of eucalyptus and other natural resources. 

But Namutosi is looking beyond just the malewa that bamboo provides. For her master’s research, she focused on the study of improving crops (African eggplants). It was then that she realized how charcoal is a major source of fuel in many households in Uganda. However, it is that great need for charcoal that has conspired with other factors to lead to deforestation in the country.

Namutosi believes that the bamboo plant can help to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere, hence mitigating the effects of climatic change.
Namutosi believes that the bamboo plant can help to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere, hence mitigating the effects of climatic change.

“When you look at the environment, it needs to be conserved,” said Namutosi, who has experience in plant breeding and agricultural research.

The wood asset in Uganda reduced by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2015, from 355.5 million to 197.1 million tons. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, after an initial 4 per cent increase in wood biomass between 1990 and 2000, the national stock suffered a significant reduction of 42.5 percent between 2000 and 2005. Despite a modest 3 percent recovery between 2005 and 2010, the aggregate stock fell by another 9 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Uganda’s total forest land area was 4.93 million hectares (12.2 million acres) in 1990, which decreased by 60 percent to 1.95 million hectares (4.8 million acres) by 2015, according to the Ugandan government statistics. However, by 2023, the forest cover had shown a reversal in the trajectory, improving by four percentage points. 

Namutosi and colleagues are now exploring possibilities of large-scale production of bamboo so it can serve the high demand for wood from charcoal burners. Bamboo is a fast-growing plant and easily adapts to many weather conditions. A hectare (2.47 acres) of a bamboo plantation is said to absorb more than 60 tons of carbon dioxide per annum, which is 30 percent more than the case with other plants. Bamboo is said to release more oxygen to the atmosphere than other plants. As such, Namutosi believes that the plant will help to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere, hence mitigating the effects of climatic change.

The second born of eight siblings, Namutosi is a daughter of farmer parents — Patrick and Olivia Nabitu. She attended Mahempe Primary School in Sironko district and Bugisu High School in Mbale for both O’level and A’level. In 2015, she joined UCU, where she obtained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship. After doing research on animals for her undergraduate, Namutosi opted to focus on crop improvement for her master’s research, graduating with a Master of Science in Agriculture. She is currently an assistant lecturer and a researcher at UCU. 


American at UCU to receive honorary doctorate from Dartmouth

The honorary degree recipients at Dartmouth’s June 9 Commencement will be, clockwise from top left: Roger Federer, the Commencement speaker; Mira Murati, Thayer ’12; Paul Nakasone; Richard Ranger ’74; Roy Vagelos; Mung Chiang; Joy Buolamwini; Liz Cheney; and, center, John Urschel.

Dartmouth College, of Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, has announced that it will award Richard Ranger, missionary lecturer in Business and Law at Uganda Christian University (UCU), an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters at the College’s 253rd Commencement on June 9.

Each year, a member of the Dartmouth 50th reunion class is chosen to receive this award in recognition of service to the Dartmouth community and the broader world. Richard, a member of Dartmouth’s Class of 1974 that will celebrate its 50th Reunion in June, has been selected for this year’s honor.

Richard Ranger with members of the 2022 UCU-Dartmouth solar water heating project team (Phase 1). From left are Shalom Mukami, UCU Engineering ‘23; Veronica Yarovinsky, Dartmouth ’24; Richard; Daniel Tumusiime UCU Engineering ’22; Dr. Stephen Doig, faculty advisor and Senior Research and Strategy Advisor at the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and Dartmouth ’82, Dartmouth ’24; Noah Daniel, Dartmouth ‘23; Ethan Aulwes, Dartmouth ’22.
Richard Ranger with members of the 2022 UCU-Dartmouth solar water heating project team (Phase 1). From left are Shalom Mukami, UCU Engineering ‘23; Veronica Yarovinsky, Dartmouth ’24; Richard; Daniel Tumusiime UCU Engineering ’22; Dr. Stephen Doig, faculty advisor and Senior Research and Strategy Advisor at the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and Dartmouth ’82, Dartmouth ’24; Noah Daniel, Dartmouth ‘23; Ethan Aulwes, Dartmouth ’22.

Each year prospective honorary degree recipients—scholars, artists, innovators, public servants, philanthropists, and others who have made extraordinary contributions to their respective fields and society at large—are nominated by members of the Dartmouth community. The confidential nominations are reviewed by the Council on Honorary Degrees, which selects the honorands in consultation with the president and the Board of Trustees.

In addition to Richard Ranger, this year’s recipients are: 

  • Joy Buolamwini, a computer scientist, artist, and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League;
  • Liz Cheney, former U.S. representative from Wyoming and vice chair of the House Jan. 6 committee;
  • Mung Chiang, president of Purdue University;
  • Commencement speaker Roger Federer, philanthropist and former tennis champion;
  • Mira Murati, Thayer ’12, chief technology officer of OpenAI;
  • Paul Nakasone, retired director of the National Security Agency and commander, U.S. Cyber Command;
  • John Urschel, a mathematician and former Baltimore Ravens guard; and 
  • Roy Vagelos, philanthropist and retired chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. and retired chairman of Regeneron

At UCU along with his wife, Catherine, Richard serves as a missionary with the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS), based in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, USA. Prior to coming to UCU in 2020, Richard spent 43 years as a negotiator, environmental compliance manager, and community and government relations specialist in the oil and gas industry in the western United States, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. From that background, he now lectures in business and law at UCU. Dartmouth’s announcement describes this second career as reflecting “his lifelong commitment to service, his faith, and his sense of adventure.”

“I am humbled beyond belief at this award,” Richard says. “As many who know me know, I am deeply loyal to Dartmouth and to the education that I was blessed with there, and the gift of so many friendships from the Dartmouth community. As someone who has served my class as its Newsletter Editor for some 40 years, I know the many stories of achievement, character, and conscience that distinguish our class. Such a recognition could easily have gone to any of a number of my classmates and have been richly deserved. That it is coming to me is a gift beyond measure.”

Catherine and Richard Ranger during a July 2023 trip to Biharamulo and Maleba, Tanzania
Catherine and Richard Ranger during a July 2023 trip to Biharamulo and Maleba, Tanzania

Richard adds: “As a missionary, I’m also very conscious of the fact that it’s a rare missionary who is awarded an honorary degree. The four years we have spent in the company of people serving in mission and serving the needs of a broken world in so many ways have introduced us not just to colleagues, but to true heroes. I’m reminded of this every day here at UCU, which was initially founded by a missionary minister as a seminary, who got here to Uganda by walking from the Indian Ocean coast.”

At UCU, alongside UCU colleagues, Richard has taught Corporate Governance and Business Ethics in the School of Business, and Oil and Gas Law in the Faculty of Law. 

Along with Catherine, Richard has served as a mentor for individual students. Together they host a weekly cell fellowship from the patio of their campus Tech Park apartment. And for the past two years, Richard has served as site coordinator for installation of a solar thermal water heating system for the campus dining hall – a joint effort by engineering students from Dartmouth and from UCU. 

Richard Ranger lecturing in the UCU Corporate Governance and Business Ethics course for the Accounting and Finance students, 2023
Richard Ranger lecturing in the UCU Corporate Governance and Business Ethics course for the Accounting and Finance students, 2023

 “To have seen students from the two universities work together and build together across frontiers of distance and culture is simply the most rewarding job I have ever had,” Richard said. 

As a person of faith, he gives any glory for the Dartmouth award to God,  adding appreciation for the opportunity to serve at UCU. 

“Not everyone is in such a position,” he said.  “Our hope is that the highlighting of our story through the award Dartmouth is giving me will lead others to ask whether and how they might serve. Because it’s possible – and because in a broken world our hearts, hands, and talents are needed.”

Richard said he is “blessed to be able to do this work in a place that I love, in the company of the woman I love, among Ugandan friends”  in a place that “challenges us to learn every day.”

“To have an honorary degree from my alma mater on top of all of that is an incredible blessing,” he said. 


Young creatives demonstrate projects at career exhibition

Uganda Christian University (UCU) Honors College recently collaborated with Usanii Village-Africa, a non-governmental organization, the UCU Directorate of Student Affairs, and the university’s 26th Guild Government to conduct a career exhibition. Themed “Navigating Horizons; a Journey Through Diverse Careers,” the exhibition, held at the UCU main campus in Mukono, was intended to showcase ideas from different faculties and schools, in addition to linking the students to industry players. The Faculty of Engineering, Design, and Technology was recognized as the top exhibitor, with the School of Business and the School of Law following in that order. Partners Intern Kefa Senoga talked to some exhibitors.

Atwiine Barinaba demonstrating his art skills.
Atwiine Barinaba demonstrating his art skills.

I use the proceeds from the sale of the art pieces to support myself at school. The cost of the art pieces ranges from sh10,000 (about $2.6) to as high as sh2.5million (about $644). The business of selling art is not one where someone can depend solely since the money does not come in every day.

Art can also be a service. For example, it would be a better option to hire an artist to perform the work of interior design, rather than one without any knowledge of art. I have also started private classes for children, so I can teach them the subject of art outside the classroom setting.

Okot Innocent, Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Okot Innocent, Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

The technologies we’re exhibiting represent clean cooking solutions. Among the technologies is a stove that utilizes bi-ethanol, derived from fermented starch-producing foods like sugarcane waste, maize and sorghum. It’s considered a sustainable clean-cooking method because we get the bi-ethanol without burning charcoal or cutting down trees.

When bi-ethanol is poured into this stove, it produces a blue or luminous smokeless flame, which is ideal for cooking. By using this stove, we not only decrease reliance on burning fuels, but also mitigate gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment.

We are also exhibiting a gasifier, another cooking technology, where you can put in your biomass, for example charcoal, wood or briquettes. This technology produces some soot or smoke, but it is thin. When this smoke goes out, it mixes with the clean air, but the effect is less because it’s thin, with fewer particles or pollutants.

Michael Ainomugisha conducts an interview for his podcasts.
Michael Ainomugisha conducts an interview for his podcasts.

We have fruits in our stall because we can’t talk about fitness without talking about nutrition. Fruits are an essential component in ensuring a healthy and fit body. In our community, many eateries do not include fruits on their menu. We, however, prioritize the inclusion of fruits as we preach the gospel of fitness

As the UCU Fitness Club, we support our members to access their essential fruits. We support students on different fitness endeavors – some people come to us with a request to reduce their weight, while others just want to keep fit.

Our club works with different organizations to foster holistic health like mental, physical and spiritual, among their employees. Currently, our activities are primarily conducted at the main campus, but we intend to expand our presence to other university campuses in the near future.

Michael Ainomugisha conducts an interview for his podcasts.
Michael Ainomugisha conducts an interview for his podcasts.

I am showcasing an innovation of a podcast, which is best explained as an audio storytelling platform, for issues to do with mental health.

Last year, when the New Vision newspaper published an article stating that 14 million Ugandans were affected by mental health issues, they did not delve deeper into the specific impact of that on the youth. In the Ainomugisha Podcast, there’s an episode titled “Life Experiences,” where youth openly share how they overcome mental health challenges.

I once interviewed a woman who shared her journey of using alcohol as a coping mechanism to forget the challenges she was facing at the time. She also explained to us how she managed to stop taking alcohol. Subsequently, she started a sobriety platform. Our podcast aims to share such experience to inspire others who could be facing similar challenges.

Byaruhanga Joshua Morris, Bachelor of Laws
Byaruhanga Joshua Morris, Bachelor of Laws

As the School of Law, we created a user-friendly “UCU Law” app to help both legal professionals and the laypeople. The app is intended to make it easier to draft tenancy agreements and to access legal documents in text and audio format, including statutes, acts, laws and cases.

We chose tenancy agreements because it affects a majority of Ugandans who are either owners of property or tenants in the properties they occupy. Processing a tenancy agreement on the app only requires entering the necessary information requested on the portal, such as name, address, and contact details, among others.

The developers created the app with students in mind, since many of them seek accommodation in hostels outside the university. The other advantage that can be accrued from using the app is access to a statute board that allows students to easily access the statutes through the platform. 

The app, which is available for free access through the UCU International Humanitarian Law blog, also provides audio cases, which law students can take advantage in their course. 

Dickson Tumuramye, head of the Honors College at UCU

According to Tumuramye, they organized the exhibition to provide a platform for students with different innovations.

“Since we are in an era of innovations and employment, this was an opportunity for the students to showcase their work to potential employers who could either hire them or offer them placements for internship opportunities,” Tumuramye says.

He added that the organizers wanted to showcase what UCU students can do. 


No more stains for girls in northeastern Uganda

By Irene Best Nyapendi
At Kalotom Primary School in northeastern Uganda, Patricia (full identity withheld) started her menstrual cycle with no knowledge what the blood discharge was about and that it had stained her skirt. The girl, age 14, was not only confused but shattered emotionally by classmates who mocked her. 

Gerald Emmanuel Abura, the brains behind the “Pad a Girl” initiative
Gerald Emmanuel Abura, the brains behind the “Pad a Girl” initiative

“I was in class when I heard the girls and boys laughing at me, saying my dress was stained,” Patricia said. “I didn’t know. When I saw the blood, I felt embarrassed. Tears just flowed down my cheeks.”

At home, Patricia’s mother says she has no money to buy her daughter sanitary pads. As a result, the teen resorts to catching the discharge with old pieces of cloth. On days when the flow is too heavy, she stays away from school, hence missing class. 

Patricia is not alone. Hers is a story of many. 

Elizabeth (full identity withheld), a Senior Four student at St. Daniel Comboni in Napak District, also uses old pieces of cloth.   

On days when Elizabeth runs out of cloth, she relies on more frequent bathing. Additionally, for her, this first period marked the onset of a battle against cultural pressure to be a woman – get married, have babies. This, she is told, is a solution to the embarrassment of bleeding and no money to afford pads.

To finance her education but not pads, Elizabeth brews and sells local alcohol.

“My friends always tell me to get a boyfriend who will buy me pads,” Elizabeth said. “Sometimes it gets really hard and it hurts when I don’t have any spare clothes to use.” 

Students of Matany Primary listening to the UCU team
Students of Matany Primary listening to the UCU team

Lillian, a pupil at Matany Primary School in Napak, has relied on pieces of cloth from her mother’s old bed sheets every time she’s in her periods.  When the periods of the 16-year-old start unexpectedly at school, she ties a sweater around her waist and immediately returns home. 

The stories of Lillian, Elizabeth and Patricia exemplify the silent suffering of many adolescent girls for whom poverty denies the basic dignity of menstrual hygiene.

A 2020 report by Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports says one out of every four girls aged 12 to 18 drops out of school upon the onset of menstruation, leading to the increase in absenteeism rates from 7% to 28% during their menstrual cycle.

Jackline Atim, the Deputy Headteacher of Matany Primary School, is a witness to the harsh reality faced by adolescent girls.

“It is a common thing here for girls to lack pads,” Atim said. “Desperation drives some of them to consider dropping out.”

However, amidst this suffering, somehow, Good

A pupil shows off a pad she received from the UCU team
A pupil shows off a pad she received from the UCU team

Samaritans, once in a while, provide hope. One example was the recent visit to the area by students of Uganda Christian University (UCU) under the “Pad a Girl” initiative. This initiative helps financially-stressed girls in their menstrual periods stay in school by providing for them and teaching them how to make reusable sanitary towels.

Led by Gerald Emmanuel Abura, a UCU student pursuing Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration, the initiative was borne by the experience that Abura’s female classmate faced many years ago.

“My friend got up from her seat, and little did she know that her skirt was stained,” Abura narrates. “I was in shock when other students started laughing at her, instead of helping her.”

Abura’s friend didn’t return to school again. 

On March 22, Abura and 26 other UCU students visited three schools in northeastern Uganda — Matany Primary School, St. Daniel Comboni Secondary School and Kalotom Primary School. For this outreach, UCU provided transport and contributed towards meals and accommodation for the team that traveled to northeastern Uganda.

A UCU student donating household items to members of the community
A UCU student donating household items to members of the community

They taught both teachers and students how to make reusable pads, and also distributed the materials for making pads. The outreach also involved lessons on the law, menstrual health and the importance of education

The students distributed 600 reusable pads and 768 packets of disposable pads, ensuring that no girl misses school due to lack of a sanitary towel.  The charity benefited more than 300 students, over 100 community members, including 41 widows, and more than 100 church members. 

Irene Nabwire Ojambo, UCU’s head of the Counseling Department, said the “Pad a Girl” initiative extends beyond supplying pads. The initiative teaches girls how to track their menstrual cycles, empowering them to take control of their health and education.

Miriam Teko, one of the teachers at Kalotom Primary School, said: “Some parents do not provide for their children. I’m so grateful to UCU students who have given our students pads.” 

Grace Agape Asiimah, a final-year student of Bachelor of Laws at UCU, used the opportunity to teach the students about their rights. “You have a right to education. Don’t work when you should be in school.”

The UCU students also reached out to the members of the community, distributing shoes, clothes, and other household items. 

Asiimah Onyang Lillian, a mother struggling to make ends meet after her husband abandoned her, expressed gratitude for the support received.

“Every day is a struggle for survival, but thanks to the UCU students, who have given me clothes, pads, soap and sugar,” she said. “I feel blessed amidst my hardships.”

Last year, the “Pad a Girl” initiative was in Buikwe, central Uganda, for the same purpose. This year’s campaign was funded by Period Equity, Kisoboka Africa – It’s possible, Compassion Uganda, UCU students and staff.


UCU emerges best exhibitor at Uganda universities fair for sixth consecutive year

By Irene Best Nyapendi
For the sixth year in a row, Uganda Christian University (UCU) has emerged as the overall “Best Exhibitor” among both public and private universities in Uganda. This year’s fair, which is the first to be held outside Kampala, attracted more than 100 exhibitors. The exhibition, in its 14th year, took place from March 21-23 at the UCU Mbale University College.  

The first runner-up was the University of Kisubi, followed by Mountains of the Moon University.

The award that UCU received as Best Exhibitor.
The award that UCU received as Best Exhibitor.

Held under the theme “Fostering Graduate Employability and Innovations,” the exhibition was organized by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), the body mandated to regulate and guide the establishment and management of higher education institutions as well as regulating the quality of higher education, equating qualifications and advising government on higher education matters. 

Among the innovations at the UCU stall was the print version of the Ebenezer, an annual publication of stories for and about UCU. Last year’s Ebenezer was produced as a partnership between the UCU Public Relations office and the Uganda Partners, an NGO based in the USA.

Denis Omvia, the chief judge at the exhibition, outlined the criteria for selecting winners, emphasizing alignment of stalls with the exhibition’s theme, level of innovation, participation, knowledge, articulation, number of stalls and stall presentation.

Prof. Eli Katunguka Rwakishaya, the Chairperson of NCHE, commended UCU for its impeccable facilities and the support the university offered in hosting the exhibition. 

“I thank UCU for the investment you put in to ensure that this event is successful and for hosting us in these fantastic gardens of yours,” Katunguka, also the Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University in Uganda, said. “This is the first time I come to UCU and I’m impressed.” 

He emphasized that NCHE’s current challenge is how to turn student innovations into viable enterprises, stressing the need for national mechanisms to support innovation.

“Our challenge is helping students scale their innovations into small and medium enterprises, enabling them to profit from their ideas and contribute to national development,” he said.

UCU computing students showcase 'Virtual Tourism' projects.
UCU computing students showcase ‘Virtual Tourism’ projects.

The Guest of Honor, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East Africa Community Affairs in Uganda’s Cabinet, lauded the decision to host the exhibition outside Kampala. She emphasized the need for financial support for research and innovation, acknowledging the role of government funding in fostering development.

“Having gone through the stalls, I have seen a lot of innovation but they need money to research and help them improve their products and protect their innovations,” Kadaga said. 

Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the Vice Chancellor of UCU, expressed pleasure at the opportunity to host the exhibition in Mbale.

“It is a joy for us to be able to host NCHE on our grounds,” Mushengyezi said. “I thank NCHE for giving us the honor to be the hosts of the first regional exhibition.” 

Mushengyezi seized the opportunity to urge the government to extend research grants to private universities. He highlighted the need for equitable opportunities in research funding, regardless of institutional status. Currently, in Uganda, only public universities are considered for government research grants.

“We request the government to include private universities in the competition for research grants,” Mushengyezi said. “Because we have much to contribute to the country’s development.”

Children engage in Virtual Reality Adventures at the UCU computing stall
Children engage in Virtual Reality Adventures at the UCU computing stall

David Mugawe, the UCU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, urged participants to ensure that the exhibition’s outcomes translate into tangible actions.

“We thank you NCHE for trusting us and we are glad that you are pleased with what we have been able to do,” Mugawe said. 

The Executive Director of NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol, elaborated on the process and the rationale behind selecting UCU as the host venue.

“We sent out a team to different sites in the eastern part of the country, particularly in Mbale, and it happened that UCU was the best site chosen,” Okwakol said.

In line with Prof. Mushengyezi’s earlier appeal, Prof. Okwakol recommended that the government considers establishing a national research and innovation fund that is accessible to all — both public and privately-owned institutions — echoing the need for equitable access to resources.


UCU Hosts Free Yellow Fever Mass Vaccination Campaign

According to Uganda National Institute of Public Health, Uganda is a yellow fever-endemic country with a high risk of transmission.

However, despite the introduction of the yellow fever vaccine in the routine immunization schedule in October 2022, the national coverage has remained low at 29%. This poses a high risk of yellow fever outbreak in Uganda

To further contribute to the efforts towards curbing spread of the yellow fever virus, Uganda Christian University (UCU) in collaboration with Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports and Mukono District Health Office, has organized a free yellow fever mass vaccination campaign.

The vaccination campaign that started today, Tuesday, April 2nd is expected to run until Monday, April 8th, 2024. The primary objective is to vaccinate at least 95% of the eligible population aged 1-60 years against yellow fever.

Both UCU and the neighboring communities are receiving the vaccines at the university clinic, Allan Galpin Health Center.

Kakooza Abdul Wahabu, Nursing Officer at UCU’s Allan Galpin Health Centre and in charge of the vaccinations, urges all eligible members of the community to embrace this vital vaccination campaign. “Community members should not miss the yellow fever vaccination. This is because clinicians often mistake yellow fever symptoms for those of malaria, leading to undiagnosed cases” Kakooza said. 

It is essential for individuals seeking vaccination to carry and present either a school ID or a national ID.

For more information and the vaccination schedule, individuals can visit the UCU Allan Galpin Health Centre. Let us join hands in combating yellow fever and ensuring a healthier future for everyone.

Compiled by Irene Best Nyapendi and Jimmy Siyasa

Edited By: Harriet Adong, Consultant at UCU’s Communication and Public Relations Department

April 2, 2024By

Save The Mothers East Africa 2024 Maternal and Child Health Conference & Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Join the STMEA 2024 Maternal and Child Health Conference on the 26th of April 2024, starting at 10:00 AM. This conference is a platform for you to be at the forefront of change, to ignite transformation, and to cultivate a future where maternal and child health thrives through multidisciplinary professionals.

This conference is about building a robust STM Network of multidisciplinary professionals to propel Save the Mothers to unprecedented heights—bigger, better, and stronger than ever before.

Here’s the crucial part: You are an essential stakeholder in this journey. Your presence, your insights, and your commitment are what will drive real, tangible progress.

Mark your calendars, clear your schedules, and be there on April 26th, 2024; to champion change, to pave the way for a healthier future for mothers & babies. We can’t do it without you. See you there.

UCU Students share thoughts on lent

Lent is a 40-day period of fasting for Christians, from Ash Wednesday to Easter. This year, Easter will be celebrated on March 31. Fasting is most recommended for healthy persons with elderly and very young children often exempt. The practice is frequently categorised as absolute (food and beverage), solid food (consuming only liquids) and partial (choosing one food to abstain). At Uganda Christian University (UCU), selected students have chosen to fast. Some shared their experience with Pauline Luba.

Bitungi Martha, Bachelor of Laws, final year
Bitungi Martha, Bachelor of Laws, final year

To me, fasting is a period where one gets closer to God. It’s that time when you want to revive your spiritual life, you want to give everything to your God, you want to talk to Him and you also want to listen to Him. So, I do this with my friends and it’s nice to share this belief with them. The Lent period has strengthened our bond. We take it as a time of giving and a time of listening to God. 

Rev. Mika Mugs Samuel, Bachelor of Divinity, first year.
Rev. Mika Mugs Samuel, Bachelor of Divinity, first year.

The lent season gives one a humbling experience. And with that experience, it enables one to control their desires, to enable them develop a deep devotion and relationship with God. So, it is important for people to participate in activities of lent, such as fasting and self-sacrifice. 

Egati Eric, Bachelor of Divinity, First year.
Egati Eric, Bachelor of Divinity, First year.

To me, fasting has been the norm ever since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I fast during the lent period and ensure that I don’t do anything that could tempt me. On the health side of it, fasting has contributed to me reducing weight. The last time I weighed myself, I was told I was almost overweight, so fasting has helped keep my weight under control. 

Alinda Catherine, Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management
Alinda Catherine, Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management

The fasting period has drawn me closer to God and I’m learning to know more about myself. I think the Lent period should be taken seriously since it helps to draw people closer to Christ. It’s also an opportunity which makes people get to discover more about their spirituality and learn more about their faith. 

Natukunda Joan, Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, third year
Natukunda Joan, Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, third year

During the fasting period, I have been able to do more and I have also learned how to talk to God better. The thing that I found challenging about fasting while on campus is that that is the time people who are not aware that you are fasting invite you for meals. Therefore, it calls for a high level of self-control.

Sanyu Rebecca Nina, Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, third year
Sanyu Rebecca Nina, Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, third year

Sanyu’s Lent Experience at UCU

I have enjoyed this Lent season.  I take breaks during my fast. The fasting is somewhat challenging, given that it is happening at a time when we have classes. However, the bottom line is that fasting can help one get closer to Christ.  I would like to get closer to my Saviour. I think the university could improve on the quality of the Lent season for students by bringing up more related sessions during the community worship and sessions of prayer.

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