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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.
College Management headed by the Principal Prof. Tonny Oyana together with his team comprised of Dr. Florence Kivunike (Head, DISS), Mr. Ezra Mwesigwa (Systems Administrator), Mr. Richard Kananura (Custodian), Ms. Liliane Ayebare (Ag. Head, CiPSD) and Mr. Elwana Tom Vok (Accountant) met with officials from the Ministry of Public Service Commission (PSC) led by Mr. Richard Enyomu (HR Commissioner), Ms. Nafula Claire (Senior Information Scientist), Mr. Muzaale Paul (Principal Assistant Secretary), and Mr. Esau Matsiko (Senior Selection Systems Development Officer).
Dr. Kivunike welcomed the PSC team to the College and was happy to receive them and looked forward to working with them. Mr. Enyomu then highlighted the fact that, PSC recruits on behalf of the government but of recent due to high unemployment rates in Uganda the PSC has had challenges during their recruitment exercises. One of the key challenges he mentioned, was managing the selection process due to the high number of applicants who apply for the few advertised positions. As a result, the PSC has continuously approached the College of Computing and IS to assist with this endeavor since it has the capacity in terms of infrastructure (Computers, Computer Labs, internet connection), and conducive facilities.
During the meeting the College agreed to host the scheduled PSC interview for January 2018 while the PSC team consulted on issues to do with ICT Security, the status of ICT equipment and software, duration of the exercise, testing of the IT systems, and cost implications.
In closing, the two teams discussed signing of an MOU in the future and scheduled accordingly for additional meetings to ensure a successful exercise come January 2018.
The Research Methodology workshop took place on the 8th Nov 2017 at the College of Computing and IS and hosted by the School of Computing and Informatics Technology (SCIT).
The objective of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for Ph.D. research students to interact with the keynote speaker Prof. Henk G. Sol, provide an insight into research strategies, and an opportunity to present their research papers. In attendance for the workshop were Prof. Tonny Oyana (Principal, CoCIS), Assoc. Prof. G. Maiga (Dean, SCIT), Dr. Paul Ssemaluulu and Ph.D. research students.
In officially declaring the workshop open the Principal emphasized on the fact that the objective of pursuing a Ph.D. degree was to add the vast body of knowledge and not specifically to get rich. He encouraged the participants to not focusing on only teaching but endeavor to focus on research and writing as many papers as possible. Assoc. Prof. the moderator for the workshop then called upon Prof. Henk Sol to deliver his presentation on Navigating in the Sea of Information: Ennovations for Delivering Shared Value. His presentation focused on enhancing decisions that matter as a major challenge in our ambient society, where we have to navigate in the sea of information to deliver shared value. Agile, analytic, big, intelligent, smart, sustainable data describe the potential for decision enhancement.
Prof. Henk G. Sol presenting
He also spoke about delivering shared value calls for: conversations to collectively identify locally relevant problems, governance to make political and administrative decisions about tackling such problems and engaged innovations to develop localized solutions. Prof. Henk G. Sol additionally mentioned the COLLAGEN (Collective Learning and Agile Governance Environment) approach that provides a set of services for scoping, facilitation and enhancement of decision-making processes, packed into decision apps and providing guidelines for conversational inquiry. The approach he mentioned supports smart governance for policy development and engaged implementation, and delivers shared value to resolve issues that matter in society.
Professor Henk G. Sol challenged the academia to undertake research and create solutions in areas of agricultural information services, disaster preparedness, health as well as governance. He recommended that Uganda needs to focus on sustainable initiatives which also require incentives for both public and private sectors.
Hasifa Namatovu presenting her research concept
During the workshop several Ph.D research students also presented their concept and research papers namely;
- Enhancing Maternity and Postnatal Care Decisions Among Pregnant Women by Hasifah Kasujja
- Spatial-temporal and System Dynamics Model for Disease Surveillance: A Case of Nodding Syndrome by Ongaya Kizito
During the presentations and Q/A sessions participants provided positive criticism that was well received and in closing, Prof. Henk G. Sol thanked and appreciated all that transpired and was looking forward to more similar workshops in the future.
The DI research group hosted a talk/seminar session on Thursday 2nd November (11:00 - 12:30pm). The speaker was Dr Julius Otim – the current Manager of Medical Health Services at Kampala City Central Authority (KCCA). He is a medical doctor by profession and a public health specialist and oversees all health facilities under KCCA ensuring;
· Quality Assurance
· Implementing Service Delivery programs and
· Health Research plans
He has previously worked with Marie Stopes Uganda as a Quality Assurance Manager, Malaria Consortium as a Technical Team Leader and as a District Health Officer for Kumi District (Local Government). He is also a life member of the Uganda Red Cross Society, a Board Member of Makerere University Hospital and a member of the National Task Force on Non-Communicable diseases.
During his presentation Dr. Otim highlighted a number of health challenges that ICTs can contribute towards and identified possible areas of collaboration with KCCA. In attendance were Masters and Ph.D researchers from the College who interacted with him and provided feedback. Some of the feedback included;
· Guidelines and procedures to follow in creating a partnership (MOU) between the College and KCCA.
· How to source for funding on the discussed research projects through current partners of KCCA i.e. Infectious Disease Institute (IDI), Intra Health – Uganda Capacity Program, Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC) etc.
· Setup a technical group between KCCA and SCIT that can assist in streamlining the use of ICT to address the objectives, challenges of KCCA as well as enhance their public health services.
The seminar concluded with closing remarks from Dr. Rehema Baguma, who on behalf of all participants appreciated the eye opener into the challenges faced by KCCA but also not noted the potential ICT has to offer to address the issues. She also thanked Dr. Otim for taking the time out to honor the invite and looked forward to a strong positive future collaboration between the College and KCCA.