A delegation of five from Tottori University, Japan visited Makerere University between 2nd – 7th October 2013 to follow up on the progress of the first batch of Japanese students sent to Makerere, and to also explore other avenues of strengthening the collaboration between the two universities. This is the second visit by Tottori University, following an earlier one in October 2012, during which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Makerere University.
The delegates first paid a courtesy visit to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, who was represented by the Acting Vice Chancellor Dr. Barnabas Nawangwe. Dr. Nawangwe is the Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of Finance and Administration (DVC F/A).
The leader of the delegation, Prof. Toshimasa Honna, delivered a special message from the President of the University who was unable to come due to other equally important commitments. He pointed out that Makerere University was the first African University to collaborate with Tottori University, and also the first to receive their students.
He emphasized that the details of programmes offered at Tottori will be advertised for Makerere University students to apply, to enable development of a meaningful exchange programme. He outlined some of the available opportunities including the ABE (Africa Business Education) Initiative under the Government of Japan where students can apply for support to take internship in Japan; by University recommendation- which involves students applying for internship and getting a Supervisor then Tottori University recommends that student to JICA for support; and the MEXT Scholarship offered by the Ministry of Education of Japan. The aim of this scholarship is to increase the number of African students going to Japan and vice versa. Under this scheme, the Japanese Government will accept 1200 young graduates from Africa for a two year masters programme and 6 months internship. Makerere students can apply to do research in Japanese Universities. (Information about the scholarships is available at the JICA offices and the Japanese Embassy) also visit the link below www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/mext.html or www.mext.go.jp/english/highered/1303739.htm
In his remarks, the Acting Vice Chancellor emphasized the direction the University has embarked on for internationalization of her programmes and curriculum. " I am glad that the collaboration started with exchange of students because this bonds the collaboration and gives it sustainability," he said.
The delegation then proceeded to other Colleges of Makerere University to interact with the College Administration. At the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, CHUSS, the delegation learnt that this College has a long tradition of working with the international community through interpretation and translation services offered to government institutions like Courts of Laws, Ministries, parastatals, and embassies. The School of Languages is the only authorized translator of Government documents. They also learnt that the College is a Centre of Excellence in teaching international languages. The College welcomed Tottori University to collaborate in teaching the Japanese language through exchange of staff. The Dean of the School of Women and Genders Studies, Dr. Consolata Kabonesa, revealed that Ms. Saki Fuji was the first exchange student from Japan to join the School.
At the College of Business and Management Sciences, COBAMS, the delegation was received by the Acting Deputy Principal, Dr. Hisali Eria. He appealed to the delegation to make their visit a starting point for collaboration with the College by linking it to Schools or Departments in Tottori. He made the following suggestions towards the collaboration: strengthening of student exchanges; embarking on collaborative research projects; and Staff exchanges – especially in lecturing postgraduate classes and also in building capacity of staff in the College. CoBAMS is fitted with State-of-the Art technologies, including a video conferencing studio which will be handy in enabling the sharing of information. The Deputy Principal emphasized to the visitors that they were partnering with the right people and it was important to avail Makerere with details of the available scholarships to enable student mobility.
At the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, the Director, Prof Buyinza, highlighted Makerere University's focus on internationalization. "With Tottori University coming on board, it translates into expansion of our network," he added.
The delegation earmarked Makerere as the academic hub for Africa partnerships. The available opportunities include (a) Intra ACP Student Mobility Scheme already advertised in the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training and through the (b) ABE Initiative supported by JICA.
At the College of Health Sciences, CHS, the delegation was received by the Deputy Principal, Prof. Celestino Obua and the Director of the Uganda Cancer Institute, Dr Jackson Orem. " There is need to look at the curriculum and the grading system used in Tottori University to see how our students can fit in your system. CHS is very much interested in research collaboration and joint supervision of postgraduate students," said Prof. Obua.
Prof. Kurimasa on his part gave a brief about TU and mentioned that TU had four faculties namely; Faculty of Regional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Agriculture and Faculty of Engineering. He said that TU was interested in research in Tropical diseases especially of malaria parasites, HIV, Cancer treatment, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. The Principal added that Uganda was a fertile ground for research and advised that the collaboration kicks off with a Research Agreement where a proposal can be written jointly and funding applied for from the Japanese Government.
The National Cancer Institute, under the Ministry of Health, is responsible for the control and treatment of cancer. The Director of the Cancer Institute outlined their activities and pointed out three major areas of interest with Tottori University including Research – developing capacity especially infrastructure for researches to be done here in Uganda; Hands-on technological transfer in the area of cancer care and Biomedical Engineering – expertise in handling cancer medical equipments. The delegation toured the Cancer Institute.
The delegation wound up its tour at MUARIK – Kabanyolo, where they visited the Plant Tissue and the Bio-Engineering Laboratories. The visit extended to NaCRRI (National Crops Resources Research Institute) and the Rice Development Centre at Namulonge. These are both research centres. The Rice Development Centre was started and donated by the Japanese Government and is fully supported by JICA. Students from Tottori University come to these centres for a three months period to conduct research.
Written by Martha Muwanguzi Ngobi