Rugunda Supports Collaborations Between Ugandan and Global Universities

Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (middle front) poses with his fellow University of California, Berkeley alumni from E.African countries during their reunion at Kampala Serena Hotel on Saturday
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Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has advocated for increased partnerships between local universities and the international advanced ones saying this will facilitate academic growth.

He said exchange programs will help in increasing the much needed capacity, price research and professionalism within institutions of higher learning like Makerere University and others.

The Prime Minister made the remarks on Saturday while attending a reunion of former students of the University of California, store Berkeley who hail from Uganda and the rest of East Africa.

The event, the first of such a kind by the Berkeley alumni was held at Kampala Serena Hotel. “More networking, mentoring and more exchange will help our universities like Makerere to benefit from more established ones like Berkeley and Harvard,” Dr. Rugunda said.

Earlier, he challenged the Berkeley alumni to optimize the knowledge they acquired during their course of study to cause a positive impact in their societies and institutions.

He said; “UC Berkeley championed outstanding political character, free thinking and resistance of injustices like when students protested against the Vietnamese war.”

After fleeing the political tension in the Idi Amin regime, Rugunda joined Berkeley where he pursued a Masters Degree in Public Health specializing in Maternal Child Health between 1977 and 1978.

“We must struggle that our society are qualitatively graduate from the ills that dominate it”.

Saturday’s reunion attracted about 40 alumni from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda majority of them currently in the medical profession and others in research. The discussion also focused on benchmarking on best practices at UC Berkeley to better the learning process and skills training in Uganda.

“The approach in our universities in Africa needs to be reviewed. We seem to be locked in a cage to an exitent that if it was opened, novody would leave,” Dr. Thelma Awori the Honorary Consul of Liberia to Uganda, also Berkeley alumnus told participants.

In her view, “learning is not be just about what the teacher teaches but rather understanding that students learn differently”.

However, some highlighted bottlenecks faced by African institutions of higher learning among them; inadequate teaching materials and staffing, poor infrastructure and many donor-funded projects which are not sustainable.

There has been a sustaining narrative that Makerere University no longer produces the human resource as was the case in the 1980s.

Critics argue that the institution’s mode of instruction is more theoretical than practical which deprives graduates of the skills required in the job market. But Mwesigwa Nuwaha Akiiki, the Executive Director Makerere University Private Sector Forum told ChimpReports that the university is mobilizing foreign funds to set up a Centre of Excellence that will close the gap in skills development and labor productivity within the private sector.

It will further reinforce expertise, innovation, human resource capacity and advisory services on quality production, to enable Ugandan businesses to ably compete in the global market.

“Through a partnership with UC Berkeley, the Centre will do joint research, support student innovations, exchange of professors and transfer of programs,” Mwesigwa said.

The Mutebile Centre which is estimated to cost between USD 21 and 35 million will have 12 storeys and will house lecture theaters, business centres, innovation hubs, a private sector resource centre, executive banking facilities among others. It is expected to be completed within two year.


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