The Makerere-Sida Annual Planning Meeting kicked off on Monday 10th March 2014; taking stock of the achievements realized by Makerere University in teaching and learning, research and knowledge transfer during Phase III research grant support (2010-2014) and harnessing the power of synergies in preparation for the upcoming research grant support, Phase IV (2015-2020).
"Every year we hold a planning meeting, but this particular one is very unique. We are in preparation for the next research grant, Phase IV (2015-2020). I am glad that through concerted efforts, Makerere University has developed 68 Letters of Intent for possible research funding. We have lined up a series of activities starting today, 10th March 2014 up to Wednesday 19th March 2014. I encourage you to be active participants," remarked Professor Mukadasi Buyinza, Director-Research and Graduate Training.
The Deputy Director-Research, Associate Professor George Nasinyama informed the participants that the Concept Note for the upcoming Phase 1V Makerere-Sida Bilateral Research Programme (2015-2020) would focus on strengthening public universities to generate knowledge and promote research uptake National and Regional development.
Associate Professor Nasinyama then highlighted areas that would receive special attention during Phase IV such as: Research in Social Sciences and Humanities; Technology, Innovation and Business incubation; Quality Assurance in Development of Research, Teaching & Supervision; Cooperation with and capacity strengthening of Ugandan Regional Public Universities; and Synergy and coordination between bilateral and regional research cooperation programs.
Opening the Mak-Sida Annual Planning Meeting, the Ag. Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang welcomed the First Secretary and Senior Research Advisor together with the Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of Sweden to Makerere University. He thanked the team from the Embassy of Sweden for the guidance rendered to the Makerere University and partner universities during the development of the Concept Note and the Letters of Intent for possible research funding. Dr. Okello Ogwang who is the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), applauded the Government and People of Sweden for supporting Makerere University institutional development strategy and research programmes since the Year 2000.
"Makerere University and Uganda in general have enjoyed and continue to benefit from the generosity of the Royal Government of Sweden in the areas of human resources capacity building, research, library services, information technology and infrastructural development," said Dr. Okello Ogwang.
He pointed out that the support has been monumental and critical to the realization of the University's core mandate of teaching and learning, research and innovations, partnerships and networking.
"A number of our staff have received PhD training through Sida funding. I am happy to report that since 2000 when our cooperation began, over 140 staff have completed PhDs and over 30 have completed Masters degrees," he added.
He then commended the Government and People of Sweden for supporting the reform process through the University Research, Administrative and Financial Reforms Committee (URAFRC), which recommended the transformation of Makerere into a collegiate university.
Drawing from the lessons learnt during the Phase 111, and driven by the desire to perform better, the Ag. Vice Chancellor emphasized that during the upcoming Phase IV, the institution would focus on proper dissemination of interdisciplinary research findings and thematic research inventories so as to contribute to and enhance evidence-based policy development.
The Director of Research and Graduate Training, Professor Mukadasi Buyinza credited Sida for their support, which has greatly improved the research capacity, culture and infrastructure at Makerere University. He shared with the participants the achievements realized so far:
- Ability of our research teams to write multidisciplinary proposals and win big research grants both in the basic and social sciences
- Production of high quality publications that have contributed to the improved ranking of the University
- Improved ICT and library services
- Enhancement of centres of excellence in waste management, health systems research and renewable energy research, among others.
- Establishment of state-of-the-art Geographical Surveillance Information System and Biomedical Laboratories.
Addressing the participants, staff and students gathered in the Conference Hall, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Ms Susanne Spets, the Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of Sweden highlighted that the generation of over 60 Letters of Intent indicated a growing interest between Uganda and Sweden and a positive trend for research cooperation.
Dr. Pohjolainen Yap Katri, First Secretary and Senior Research Advisor, Embassy of Sweden was happy to note that the staff capacity to conduct research was continuously being developed, but emphasized the need for research results to be shared and disseminated.
Commenting on supervision of students and PhD training, Dr. Katri said: "The matter of supervision is very important. Supervision is the heart of successful capacity building. The lab model is one of the best PhD training models. It is the planned model in the upcoming Sida research programme."
Considering that the Mak-Sida cooperation Phase III would come to an end in 2014, Dr. Katri advised all supervisors to ensure that the students under the current programme complete their studies by June 2015.
The Deputy Director-Research, DRGT, Associate Professor George W. Nasinyama provided an update on the upcoming Phase IV, Mak-Sida research programme. He highlighted that in line with the National Development Goals and the Makerere University Research Agenda, Mak-Sida Phase IV (2015-2020) would focus on the realization of Seven (7) objectives. These include:
- Improve research infrastructure to support a robust environment for research and innovations at Makerere University
- Consolidate capacity for PhD training and research at Makerere University and strengthen local PhD training in Public Universities in Uganda
- Increase the generation and dissemination of research and research outputs through multidisciplinary teams
- Increase the capacity for knowledge translation and innovations
- Increase partnerships and regional synergies for knowledge generation and sharing
- Improve coordination and management of research and knowledge uptake
- Increase cooperation with and strengthen capacity of partner public universities
Building on the successes realized and capacity developed during Phase III, Associate Professor Nasinyama added that Phase IV would focus on strengthening the local PhD programs and training most of the PhD students locally; establishing of multidisciplinary research teams addressing broad thematic areas; training for partner public universities; establishing synergies and collaborations with regional programs supported by Sida; and promotion of research uptake.
Dr. Katri also shared the key dates in the process that would lead to the Phase IV research grant.
"On 11th March 2014, the Letters of Intent will be submitted so that the International Academic Appraisal Committee will vet them and make recommendations to Sida. In May 2014, we will know the outcome. Based on the vetting, Makerere and other partner universities will be invited to make a full application to Sida. The deadline for applications to Sida is 21st July 2014," she stressed.
Proceeding with other items on the Opening Session's programme, the Moderator of the Postdoctoral Scientific Conference, Professor Celestino Obua, Deputy Principal, College of Health Sciences (CHS) then called upon researchers to present to the audience. He also advised researchers to use simple terminologies that would be appreciated and understood by the general audience.
Subsequently, the following ongoing research projects were presented:
- Ecological studies and assessment for domestication potential of selected wild mushrooms of the Albertine region, Uganda---- Dr. Immaculate Nakalembe
- Assessing the impact of land use/cover change on soil organic carbon and implications for adaptation to climate variability on the slopes of Mount Elgon,Eastern Uganda---Dr. Frank Mugagga
- Out-scaling and Phosphorus Fortification of a Promising Soil Fertility Management Package-----Dr. Alice Amoding
- Susceptibility of Apple tree varieties to Apple scab disease in Kabale district, Western Uganda----Dr. Grace Nakabonge
Participants were impressed to learn that each research project included a Master of Science student, which is crucial in building capacity as well as mentoring the next generation of academics.
On Tuesday 11th March 2014, the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology will hold a Science Day under the theme," Science, Technology and Innovations for regional development."
The Mak-Sida Annual Planning Meeting will continue with the teams from Sida, Embassy of Sweden and the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training holding specialized sessions at the respective units.
On Wednesday 19th March 2014, all Unit coordinators, researchers/supervisors, mentors, PhD students and Masters Students will convene in the CEDAT Conference Hall for the closing session.
Vice Chancellor, represented by The First Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Dr. E. Okello Ogwang
Director-Research, Professor Mukadasi Buyinza, opening remarks.
Presentation by the Director of Research and Graduate Training, Prof. M. Buyinza
Article by: Ritah Namisango, Public Relations Office
Photos by: Elias Tuhereze, Public Relations Office