A delegation of consultants from African Union (ICT Consultant, AU) represented by Mr. Moses Bayingana and Ms. Mariam Aniya (ICT, Consultant) on Tuesday, 14th Nov 2017 met with Prof. Tonny Oyana (Principal, CoCIS), Mr. Joseph Ssemogerere (E-learning Coordinator, PAEN project), Ms. Liliane Ayebare (Ag. Head, CiPSD) and Mr. Godwin Kahuuta (Principal Scientist, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance). The meeting was scheduled to discuss and get feedback about the implementation of the Pan-African E-Network Project (PAEN) at the College of Computing and IS (CoCIS), Makerere University. In particular the genesis of the of the project, how it was implemented, the achievements and challenges of the project, and recommendations.
(From left to right) Mr. G. Kahuuta, Mr. J. Ssemogerere, Prof. T. Oyanna, Ms. L. Ayebare, Mr. M. Bayingana and Ms. M. Aniya
During the meeting Mr. Ssemogerere presented the main objective of the project which was funded by the Indian government at a cost of US$ 125 million to connect all African Union (AU) member countries with some of the best universities and hospitals in India to share their expertise in the fields of education and health so as to accelerate the socio-economic development of Africa.
He also briefly talked about the Implementation of the five-year project which was through Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. (TCIL) who set up the network providing e-services with priority on Tele-Education, Tele-Medicine and VVIP connectivity (video conferencing and VoIP) among the African member states and Makerere University (CoCIS) was selected as the National E-learning Centre to host the students enrolled in the various courses under this project.
Mr. J. Ssemogerere presents a report on the PAEN project
Key highlights and achievements during the presentation;
- That there is still a large demand for the programmes offered by both Amity University and Indra Ghandi National Open University (IGNOU) notably the Masters in Business Administration and Bachelors in IT/IS programmes.
- The favorable subsidized costs of the training enabled the unprivileged to get good quality education.
- The flexible study timetable schedule enabled students from upcountry locations the opportunity to study at their convenience as well as complete their studies on time.
- That Makerere University had the best performance, highest enrollment (2,540), and completion rates (1500) within the whole African region at approximately 60% graduate pass rate.
- The project had increased the much-needed human resource in Uganda in the disciplines of IT, Business, Finance and Human resource studies.
- A majority of the graduates who completed testified to having got promotions and better jobs.
- The challenges noted by Mr. Ssemogerere were;
- Lack of effective communication specifically with IGNOU regarding student questions and general guidance during the programmes.
Enforcement of the tuition fees for operation costs.
- Some students not focused on studying creating a lot of exam retake scenarios.
- In regards to forging a way forward, he recommended the following;
- An extension of the project by renewing the necessary MOU’s etc. This will enable more Ugandans to access subsidized quality education.
- Operationalizing the Regional University Centre which was supposed to continue providing Tele-Education to other countries in the region even after expiration of the project. Specifically addressing issues of;
- Getting approval from Makerere University (Senate) to start delivering online courses.
- Training staff at CoCIS to deliver online courses.
- Providing sufficient support (Financial support).
He concluded his presentation by thanking the Indian Government, the African Union, all participating institutions for successfully coordinating the project from its inception to completion and kindly requested for more opportunities that will steer Uganda to the next level.
Mr. Bayingana was very impressed by the performance of CoCIS (Makerere University) during the project especially with achieving the highest completion rate in Africa with 1,596 students graduating during the project.
Mr. Kahuuta an Amity alumnus who graduated from the program with an MBA in International Business attested to the benefits, achievements and successes of the project and requested for a renewal of the project emphasizing on the use of the newly laid fiberoptic infrastructure.
The Principal in his remarks thanked Mr. Ssemogerere for successfully coordinating the project amidst all the challenges and requested that AU renew or extend the project. In forging a way forward, he requested that the AU provide seed money and other initiatives that can address some the challenges faced e.g. content development, training of administrative staff to sustain the project and develop the infrastructure.