News: Feb 15, 2016
Two universities in Uganda are launching a unique partnership with the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology. The intention is to enhance the ICT capacity in Uganda and enable socioeconomic development. Particular areas of interest include e-health, e-teaching and entrepreneurship. One of the main objectives is to educate ten doctoral students and facilitate exchange of students, researchers, and teachers between the countries.
The members of the project group meet at Lindholmen. From the left: Pär Meiling, Michel Chaudron, Evelyn Kahiigi Kigozi, Urban Ask, and Engineer Bainomugisha.
The project will provide expertise in IT management and Software Engineering as well as in entrepreneurship – areas that are very important for the development of society.The project, which was allocated 25 million SEK from SIDA, is intended to run for five years. During this period, ten doctoral students will undergo education and they will spend half of the time in Sweden. The candidates intended for the ten vacancies are working at the two universities in Uganda. Further research competence would enhance the research field and, above all, strengthen the teaching staff capacity. The number of students at the two universities is high, while there is an insufficient number of teachers. Providing employees with research expertise is therefore a straightforward way of solving the problem and, at the same time, enabling an increasing flow of fully qualified students.
Project coordinators, associate professor Engineer Bainomugisha from Uganda and Professor Michel Chaudron from Gothenburg, describe the nature of the ideas surrounding the outline of the project.
– We face several challenges in Uganda today, such as unemployment and insufficient resources of health and education, Engineer Bainomugisha says. IT may play a role in addressing the needs of society and increased IT proficiency can be a key to many of the problems we have been encountering.
– The project is not merely about adding new expertise to the technical field but also to the fields of entrepreneurship and management, which are vital to society, Engineer continues.
Several “summer schools” are due to be organized in Uganda, available to all who are interested in enhancing their competence in the field, which includes persons working in the industrial sector as well as students at various levels. A student exchange agreement has been established between the four universities, with applications already pouring in. A mutual exchange of Swedish and Ugandan researchers and teachers is accounted for in the budget.
Another idea would be to make use of the experience gained from the successful work with Software Centre in Gothenburg, where researchers are working closely together with people from the business sector to strengthen and accelerate the development of software. The idea is to start something similar in Uganda.
– Also, we have distance-based learning as an additional thing to consider, Michel Chaudron says. We have been thinking of moving some of our online courses and it would be a clear advantage could we test this together with Uganda.
The first doctoral students in the project have already been recruited and are starting 1st of March 2016.
– SIDA has long supported the development of research competence at Makerere University, says Engineer Bainomugisha. In 2013, SIDA issued an announcement, catching the interest of both Departments at the IT Faculty in Gothenburg. A teaching assistant in IT Management, William Michael Nsubuga, at the Department of Applied IT was asked by the Head of Department to contact an Ugandan former master’s student in Software Engineering, Brian Katumba, at the opposite Department. As he returned to the University in Uganda, he brought the idea with him, eventually resulting in the four universities submitting a joint application. Our application was selected in competition with around 25 different projects and we visited Sweden for the first time in 2014, Engineer says.
– This is the first SIDA project specialized in IT in Uganda, Michel Chaudron says. Previous SIDA-supported projects have been more concerned with traditional fields such as mathematics, biology and technology.
– The reason why the universities in Makerere and Mbarara were selected has to do with SIDA’s intention to bring both old and new universities into the project. On the other hand, Makerere University is the oldest university in East Africa. It was established as early as 1922, Engineer Bainomugisha says.
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