KAMPALA – The Pro-Rector, University of Bergen (UiB), Prof. Margareth Hagen together with four members of UiB staff on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, visited a number of units at Makerere University ahead of the 7th November 2019 celebrations commemorating 30 years of the Mak-UiB Collaboration programme. The delegation was hosted by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Makerere University Library and the College of Health Sciences (CHS).
The Pro-Rector was accompanied by the Assistant University Director-Mr. Tore Tungodden, Vice Dean for Research-Prof. Marit Bakke, Academic Coordinator Mak-UiB Collaboration (UiB)-Prof. Thorkild Tylleskär and Higher Executive Officer, Communication Services-Ms. Elinor Bartle. They were guided around the Campus by the Academic Coordinator Mak-UiB Collaboration (Mak)-Dr. Ronald Semyalo.
The first stopover for the delegation was CHUSS where they were welcomed by the Acting Principal-Assoc. Prof. Josephine Ahikire. With her, were the Dean, School of Languages, Literature and Communication-Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi; Head, Department of Literature- Dr. Mark Okot Benge; Former Head, Department of Literature-Assoc. Prof. Dominica Dipio; and UiB Alumnus-Dr. James Taabu Busimba.
Assoc. Prof. Ahikire in her remarks welcomed the delegation to Makerere and CHUSS in particular, noting that at 30 years, the collaboration had indeed matured and was worth celebrating. She added that colleagues not only in the Humanities but also in the Natural Sciences had obtained their degrees at UiB and sincerely thanked the Pro-Rector for the generous support extended to staff capacity development at Makerere.
Complementing the Acting Principal, Assoc. Prof. Mushengyezi noted that the Department of Literature had made significant strides in oral literature, research and publication with support from the Mak-NUFU (Norwegian Programme for Development, Research and Education) Folklore Project under Assoc. Prof. Dipio and Prof. Stuart Sillars.
The Dean added that the Department of Journalism and Communication with funding from the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) had managed to recruit and train four PhD students. The funding was received under the Strengthening Media in Post-Conflict societies through Education and Research: Bridging Gaps, Building Futures in Uganda, Norway, South Sudan and Nepal project.
Contributing to the discussion, Assoc. Prof. Dipio appreciated the holistic support that her Department had received especially through the PhD training for staff. She also lauded the multidisciplinary nature of the UiB Summer Research Schools and prayed that future schools would accord an opportunity to more Humanities Scholars keen to share their knowledge with other disciplines.
Dr James Taabu Busimba is a Lecturer in the Department of Literature who undertook the “madness” Re-language-ing Shakespeare for a Ugandan Readership as part of his PhD study. Recounting his experience, JTB, as he is popularly known at the Department, thanked UiB for the generous support accorded to him, which involved extensions to his stay as he finalized his thesis. This support, he said, enabled him to graduate with the highest distinction in philosophy, a feat he reckoned would have been hard to repeat elsewhere.
Delivering her remarks, Prof. Hagen thanked Makerere and CHUSS for the warm reception accorded to her delegation as well as the invigorating discussions. The Professor of Italian Literature could not hide her excitement at being ‘home’. She noted that UiB under its Department of Foreign Languages offers degrees in nine languages namely; Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.
She commended the Department of Literature for producing 4 PhDs under the NORHED programme added that UiB through its Department of Information Science and Media Studies seeks to address the convergence between journalism, communication and evolving technologies. She added that the UiB joined leading media and technology companies in Norway to form the Media City Bergen cluster, which gives its students all-round exposure to trends in the industry.
As collaboration coordinator on the Mak side, Dr Semyalo thanked UiB for sending close to 400 students annually to Makerere for short term study opportunities. He noted that almost two-thirds of these students belonged to the clinical sciences and urged other faculties to explore sending their students as well.
Prof. Tylleskär on the other urged more PhD students at Makerere to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the two-week Summer School at UiB. Six parallel courses with an application deadline set for 1st February 2020 will run from 8th to 18th June 2020 focusing on; climate governance, sustainable cities, sustainable oceans, media and democracy, global food systems, as well as migrant health.
As a way forward, the meeting agreed to lay strategies for the teaching of a short course in Norwegian every summer. This, it is envisaged, will help prospective students to be grounded in the culture and language basics prior to setting off for their studies in Norway.
Under the Ethnomusicology in Uganda Project, the Department of Performing Arts and Film with the support from the Grieg Academy at UiB and other partners established Music Archive in the Main Library Makerere. This was the first stopover for the UiB delegation as they made their way to meet the Deputy University Librarian, Dr Ruth Nalumaga.
The Deputy Librarian in her remarks thanked UiB for the support extended in establishing the Library Information System (MakLIBIS) as well as conducting the Learning and Teaching in a Digital World (LATINA) course. She also thanked the Government of Uganda for advancing UGX1.5billion to the Library’s E-Resources budget for this financial year.
The discussions with the UiB team then centred on the increasing struggles by University Libraries the world over; especially in smaller countries, to meet the high subscription fees charged by important international scientific journals. The officials agreed that forming national or regional consortia should be encouraged to advocate for lower annual subscription fees.
As an innovation, Dr Nalumaga shared the Main Library has plans to digitize its entire newspaper collection, so as to create a paid E-resource accessible to the whole world, a novelty that was welcomed by the UiB delegation. The meeting further discussed the need to conduct information literacy training for not only students but staff as well so as to help fight the growing ‘fake news’ trend.