By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard
Makerere University: Addressing at the Symposium on National Transformation on Thursday, Uganda’s President H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni demanded that Education systems across Africa must enable graduates at all levels to uplift national economies from dependence on the export of raw materials to integrated, independent and self-sustaining ones.
He cited that by 1962, the country was characterized as the economy of the 3Cs and 3Ts, where the 3Cs were Coffee, Copper and Cotton and the 3Ts were Tobacco, Tea and Tourism but the census of 1969 was showing that only 4% of the homesteads, were in the money economy. The 3Cs and the 3Ts were affecting only 4% therefore academia has to find out why and provide solutions.
“Of the 3Cs and the 3Ts, copper goes back to 7 zero, cotton disappears, but coffee kept limping on. Tourism disappears. Tea shrinks from 23,000,000 kg to 3,000,000 kgs per annum. By the time we came in, the tea plantations in Kyamuhunga, were trees. Tobacco and coffee were the only ones limping on,” Said Museveni.
To avert this, President Museveni tasked members of the academia to mind the six elements in the new education system which are;
Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the pre-colonial African societies so as to understand why they were conquered by the rapacious foreigners,
Understand the colonial intrusion, after the mutation of the slave trade into colonialism, the creation of the enclave economies that confined themselves into the production of raw materials,
Understand the need for change, which includes manufacturing, expanding of the money economy and expanding of the services sectors,
Dealing with the neo-colonial social sciences,
Using the education system to instil confidence in the African people, and
Study the history of the World, including Europe, to understand how social-economic metamorphosis took place.
President’s Speech was read by Maj. (Rtd) Jessica Alupo- the Vice President of Uganda.
Ms. Lorna Magara- the Chairperson, Makerere University Council highlighted the University is running a Strategic Plan (2020-2030) that seeks to consolidate Makerere’s position as the global knowledge hub at the heart of Africa. She said, ‘the previous strategic plan sought to shift the University from teacher-centred instruction to learner-centred pedagogy to produce graduates with problem-solving skills and reflective abilities.
She stated that the previous plan placed a higher premium on research for knowledge production, while the current plan focuses on knowledge transfer, partnership, and networking.
“For example, for the first time in Makerere’s history, the 60th Graduation Ceremony produced more female than male graduands. Although this record was by a slim margin of 50.4% compared to 49.6% for their male counterparts, it marked a shift, demonstrating that Government’s affirmative action policy was finally paying off”. Said Magara.
She emphasized that these wins continued in the form of increased collaborations with both international and Ugandan organizations in various areas, leading to various infrastructural developments such as the construction of the largest facility dedicated to computer science in sub-Saharan Africa, expansion of the university library by 8,000 square meters, construction of Central Teaching Facilities 1 and 2 now appropriately named the Frank Kalimuzo and Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility respectively, among others.
In his address, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe- the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University confided that the symposium comes three years into the implementation of their ten-year strategic plan and about half-way into the implementation of the Third National Development Plan (NDPIII) which helps them reflect on the progress they have made in as far as meeting their targets is concerned, and carry out the necessary adjustments to ensure that they stay on track.
“We take cognizance that it is graduate students under the mentorship of our staff that conduct research that contributes to the body of knowledge. We are intentional about conducting research that is responsive to challenges facing our society with the view that this will help unlock the potential of Makerere to more substantively contribute to national development”. Said Prof Nawangwe.
“I therefore thank the Government for honouring its obligation to pay our academic staff competitive salaries and generously supporting our creative ecosystem through the UGX 30 billion annual allocation to the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF)”. He added.
Prof. Nawangwe submitted that their ultimate wish is to see a scholarship or loan scheme dedicated to graduate students and believes that ‘this is a matter of priority for our Country especially in the wake of our exploding population and the urgent need for us to come up with solutions to not only feed but also provide meaningful employment for our youth’.
The Keynote Speaker at the Symposium was Professor Vincent C. Anigbogu Director General, Institute for National Transformation (INT), International Distinguished Professor Centre for Ethical and Moral Leadership (CEMOL) Akwa Ibom State University, Shelter Afrique Estate, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.
In his address, Professor Vincent C. Anigbogu reckoned the fact that African education systems must undertake pragmatic and issues-relevant reformation, to prepare a new breed of Africans to address the emerging threats and opportunities that await them now and in the future.
He said that to achieve quality Education for Sustainable Development should therefore it should;
Be embedded in an interdisciplinary and holistic the curriculum which allows for a holistic-institution approach to policy making, Share the values and principles that underpin sustainable development, Promote critical thinking, problem solving and action, all of which develop confidence in addressing the challenges to sustainable development, employ a variety of educational methods, such as literature, art, drama, and debate to illustrate the processes, Allow learners to participate in decision-making on the design and content of educational programmes, Address local as well as global issues and avoid jargon-ridden language and terms.
The Symposium on National Transformation was organized under the them, “The role of Universities in responding to Africa’s problems and development needs”.