By Julius Mugaga/Umoja Standard.
Kampala: Makerere University has received a grant worth US$2,000,000 from Mastercard Foundation (MCF) aimed at fostering E-Learning pedagogy at a launch of Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-Learning Initiative.
Fifteen members of staff from Makerere University have been equipped with required skills to roll out the initiative.
Important to note.
2560 Online courses will be designed and uploaded on Makerere University E–Learning Environment (MUELE) for this 18-month project.
It will be under critical supervision of Dr. Umar Kakumba the Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, Associate Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Mastercard Foundation E-Learning Initiative coordinator Coordinator and Associate Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program and Co-Focal person.
Online learning was introduced in the terrible days of Covid-19 that inhibited gatherings that even institutions of learning were forced to close.
However, this was not a quick system to adopt for many Universities even Makerere University E-learning Environment (MUELE) registered hiccups.
The University therefore reached out to Mastercard Foundation to apply and compete for funds aimed at boosting E-Learning. The efforts successfully led to winning of the Mastercard Foundation E-Learning Initiative, which has been launched today at Makerere University led by the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education, Prof. Mary Okwakol.
During the launch, the audience also listened to a video clip of Reeta Roy the President and CEO of Mastercard Foundation.
Ms. Reeta Roy remarked that the work of Mastercard Foundation is about education ,leadership development, giving back to community and transformation of lives of people and communities.
Addressing at the launch of the project, Prof. Mary Okwakol the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education remarked that it is a step in the right direction of high-quality learning.
Ms. Okwakol revealed that this is not a win for Makerere University only but it is for all Institutions of Higher learning as students can enhance education from wherever they are through E-Learning.
“As Makerere University secures this opportunity, it should therefore strengthen the capacity for E-Learning but also support other institutions in the country to do the same”. Said Ms. Okwakol.
She noted that most teachers have limited knowhow of the system operation which may stagger the process, requested if the university would produce materials that would assist them to execute positively.
Ms. Okwakol said that the system requires steady internet which seems expensive and it is on this background that National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) sought institutions to lobby service providers as the body negotiates with government as well.
Prof. Okwakol also noted that online learning requires a lot of flexibility which is a necessity in today’s world.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the vice chancellor Makerere University stressed that the project is going to improve the University’s Online Education since it has been able to train 15 members of staff so far to champion the initiative.
He said that it is a very big asset for Makerere University in that they are to receive five smart classrooms (multimedia studios) that can be used by lecturers to conduct their lessons in real time or record and distribute them through the internet.
“We already have capacity as a University to conduct Online University and we are in position to start implementing parts of this 18 months project”. said Prof. Nawangwe.
Mr. Nawangwe revealed that the project has come at an opportune time when the University is implementing strategies of being a research led University.
He allayed fear amongst students and their parents regarding costs of accessing internet saying that they have partnered with major telecom companies in Uganda to zero-rate internet cost.
Prof. Umar Kakumba, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs and the supervisor of the project expected that E-Learning initiative grant will foster high quality and inclusive Education, high quality learning, support innovative and psycho-socio support and realize E-Learning infrastructure.
He called upon College Principals and Deans of Schools to ensure more staff are trained about the system saying each of the School will be assigned a trainer/facilitator to train members of staff to develop high quality online courses and content.