The Pan African e-learning centre (e-VBAB) launched at Mak-CoCIS

The Pan African e-learning centre (e-VBAB) launched at Mak-CoCIS

The Pan African e-learning centre under the e-VidyaBharati and e-AarogyaBharati Network (e-VBAB Network Project) was on Friday 12th November 2021 launched at Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS).

The e-learning center will serve  as the regional coordinating centre for  receiving and broadcasting lectures from India to the other African countries.

The aim of this initiative is to share Indian expertise in the fields of  tele-education and tele- health care through web-based  infrasructure  with the African countries in order to accelerate socio- economic development of Africa.

Hon Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo, Hon. V. Muraleedharani and the Indian High Commissioner to Uganda seated in tent during the opening ceremony

The centre was officially opened by the Indian Minister of state for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs Hon.V. Muraleedharani and Ugandas Minister of State for Higher Education Hon. Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo. The Ugandan High Commissioner to India, the Vice Chancellor Makerere university, Prof. Barnabas Nwangwe, the Principal CoCIS Prof. Tonny Oyana also graced the occasion.

The Indian minister was also accompanied by the High Commissioner of India to Uganda H.E Ajay Kumar, the Joint Secretary for Eastern and Southern Africa Mr. Puneet Kudal,the Deputy Secretary  Mr. Chandru A, the undersecretary Dr. Prakash Shelat and the  second secretary  Mr Sanjeev Kumar Goel among others.

The Chief Guest and  Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, India  Hon.V. Muraleedharani expressed happiness that the launch of the center coincided with the university celebrations to mark the 100 years of her existence.

Hon. V. Muraleedharani making his remarks

Hon V. Muraleedharani said the (e-VBAB) program had already started offering free online classes in the previous two intakes in the year 2020.

“This learning center will help facilitate the registered students in conducting examinations with online programs and any program in providing tele-educational services. This marks the beginning of a successful journey of many Ugandans benefiting from free online education from prestigious Indian  universities.

Government of India has always supported Uganda and his people through education and capacity building .Every year, over 30 Ugandans are offered undergraduate , post graduate and PhD scholarships  under the the program of the Indian Counsel of Cultural relations  to study in India”, the Chief Guest reported.

The Minister  said, the scholarships offered cover full tuition payment, free accommodation, monthly stipend, free Indian Visa and free air tickets to and from India. Furthermore, the Minster said, every year, about 150 Ugandan  students benefit from capacity building programmes and short courses from Indian institutes  under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program (ITEC). The ITEC program he said, caters for  working people with a purpose of  building capacity and sharing new knowledge.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, Hon. Muraleedharani said,the ITEC program was converted into e-ITEC and up to-date Ugandans are still benefiting through the virtual mode.

The guests and participants tour the e-learning facility

In 2018, Hon. Muraleedharani said, Government of India introduced a study program in India through which over 100 Ugandans every year have benefited by getting admission to Indian universities. In this campaign, Ugandans who cannot afford tuition receive waivers of between 50-100% while some institutions go further to offer free accommodation and meals to admitted students.

“India’s cooperation with partner countries lay a lot of emphasis on education, training and capacity building. These programs have been piloted in countries in a developing mode. E-VBAB is yet another initiative by government of India in that direction”, the hon. Minister stated.

The Minister thanked Makerere University for providing a suitable place for the e- learning facility so that Ugandans can benefit from the free education services sponsored by the Government of India. He also thanked the Uganda Minister of State for Higher education for being personally present and being part of the inauguration ceremony.

Uganda’s State Minister for Higher  Education Hon. Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo described the launch as another milestone in the new era of digital migration at Makerere University.

Hon Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Hon. V. Muraleedharani and the indian technologist Amtrack Pankay Raj Kundra touring the e-learning facility

Hon. Muyingo   thanked  Makerere University  Management for embracing new technologies and  upon the launch of the e – learning Centre.

The minister  said, the commissioning of this centre will help the Ministry  realize one of its key mandates which is the expansion of access to quality Higher Education to all Ugandans that will enable students  access world class facilities at affordable rates.

“This facility will allow our students to have a more holistic education supported by ICT and reliable internet connectivity.It has become impossible to separate ICT from the teaching and learning process in this century. Mainstreaming of technology is therefore something which we have been working towards over time.

The outbreak of COVID 19 and the consequent lockdown only underlined the urgency of our transition from the physical classroom to the virtual space. I therefore thank the Government of India for its continued support to Uganda’s Education Sector over the years”, Minister Muyingo said.

Hon Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo delivering his remarks

The minister hailed the Government of India for her generosity and offering scholarships to the Ugandan citizens. Noting that the ministry was looking  forward to receiving even more of these in the future since Uganda has a lot to learn from India which is among the fastest growing economies in the world.

“Globalization has brought the world closer than ever before. Prosperity in one part of the world cannot last long if it is contained to only a few citizens. It is therefore important that we build partnerships that will draw on expertise from across the board and ensure that any positive outcomes are shared by all of us. Projects like EVBAB help us to realize these goals and I hope that we shall continue expanding its reach”, Hon Muyingo appreciated.

Minister Muyingo said  Uganda’s  scientists  were working tirelessly to develop a vaccine for COVID 19 and requested that India avails Ugandan Universities opportunities for partnerships to share best practices and enrich the  country’s  research efforts on grounds that India’s health sector remains among the most vibrant world over.

The Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed the guests to Makerere University, one of the oldest and largest universities on the African continent adding that the University will be celebrating 100 years of excellent service to humanity starting next year.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe making his welcome remarks

“To me the launching of this centre is part of the celebrations to mark the 100 years. So you have  really given us a good gift to celebrate our 100 years. Makerere University  is collaborating with several institutions in India in different areas by the different colleges but in this particular  instance, our collaborations has been mainly with Amity college but  we are increasingly getting more Indian  colleges and Universities interested in collaborating with us and we are  promoting that collaboration, “, The Vice Chancellor said.

Prof. Nawangwe  noted that ICT is now the future for the world and that  any support rendered to the university  as far as IT is concerned is extremely important .

“The good thing is that the centre you have donated is going to benefit not just Ugandans but many people around the African continent. We are set to be a research led university and that is our next next strategy. So the support that you have given is also going to enhance our research capacity as a university. We are aware that India is technologically advanced but also close to us and we would be very happy to collaborate more with institutions in India.

In research, I am aware you are advanced in space technology. We want to join you in advancing space technology and so  we would request that you connect us to  institution in India that are  very key in IT, artificial intelligence and space technology so that we can work with them and advance these technologies in Uganda”  Prof. Nawangwe asked.

The Vice Chancellor hailed the Ugandan High Commissioner to India for the excellent job done in terms of connecting Makerere and bringing  good things to Uganda.He presented a gift  in  form of a book authored by Mahtma Ghandi with special emphasis on his inspirational  biography and life he lived as an icon.

Prof. Nawangwe  also thanked the Ugandan Minister of State for Higher Education Hon Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo for honouring the invitation to come and receive the Chief Gust and for the enduring support rendered to Makerere University.

The Principal, Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS)  Prof. Tonny Oyana thanked the government of India for setting up the state of the art equipment and implored the government of India to deepen its collaboration with Makerere, saying the college has delivered over the last 15 years of the collaboration.

Prof. Tonny Oyana delivering his remarks

“I want us to deepen our relationship. I know India is a powerhouse as far as technology is concerned and we could do more as a college of computing and technology sciences. We have about 50 PhD level people in this college and I know that you have grown in satellite technology, in super computing, outsourcing and we want to learn a lot from you”, Prof. Oyana said.

He reported that the equipment received includes 26 state-of-the-art desktops accompanied with anti virus, cameras, two speaker sets with amplifiers, wired microphones, a 65 inch TV, scanners , printers and other accessories, a battery backup that can last one week.

By Anyango Jane, Principal Communication Officer,CoCIS

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