The Bird’s-eye view: Greater good requires concerted efforts

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ALEX TAREMWA

Hanging around a representative sample of UCU staff has revealed two perception extremes. There is a section that is passionate about the university and work wholeheartedly every day to see it prosper.

There is also another section whose association with the university is simply an opportunity to get paid at the end of the month.Sadly, the latter are the majority.

To illustrate this, let us refer to the results of the survey conducted by the Career Development and Placement office among 500 new students, representing a quarter of the registered students.

When asked about how they got to know about UCU, 11.2 percent credited career outreaches, 11.4 per cent the press, 22.2 per cent through students and staff of UCU and 55.2 per cent had heard of UCU through friends and relatives who have no history with the university.

From the above statistics, one would wonder how external forces (friends and relatives) can account for the biggest percentage of information to new students, more than staff and students who arguably have a better understanding of the university within which they work and study.

Secondly, how come the media contributes less numbers despite the university’s continued investment in commercial advertisement over the years? And how can these millions of shillings be redirected for better output?

An overriding reaction may be that the university has not invested a lot in its students and staff to partake of the marketing processes. In so doing, the students and staff see marketing as the sole responsibility of the Marketing, Communications and Public Relations offices.

When crisis hits, it becomes easier for a student or staff member to press their ‘ignore’ button and pass on responsibility for cleaning up the mess to the above mentioned offices.

In the short term, this “as long as I get paid attitude” can be sustained but as the effects sink in, especially in the light of dwindling student numbers, is this attitude tenable?

Is it not time for the university administration to adopt an intra-marketing approach through which it can motivate its major stakeholders: students and staff, to promote and defend its image as people who have something to lose?

What if part of what is invested in the newspapers and TV commercials was to be redirected into making students and staff feel significantly involved in the making of university policies so that when the need to discuss them arises, they do not begin pointing fingers elsewhere?

Superimposing policies and resolutions hatched in exclusive boardrooms is what has caused students and staff to feel alienated in policy formulation and implementation. Instead of being contributors, the stakeholders are merely shock absorbers of the outcomes.

If I did not know any better, I would say that this is what caused the strike that resulted in the expulsion of some students last semester. It did not have to get to that had the students been involved in the dialogue process and reasons for the increment explained.

The bigger picture requires a combined effort of students and staff to sail the university to greater heights in their respective capacities. This, however, has to be done in unison, not discord.

Alex is the Managing Editor of The Transparent Magazine, formerly The Standard’s Features Editor.

Is independent Uganda a case of failed patriotism?

 

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By Rev Samson Maliisa

On October 9, 2016, as a nation we shall celebrate our 54th year of independence. In his speech on Independence Day in 1962, the then first Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr Milton Obote, echoed the hopes and aspirations of Ugandans, proclaiming an era of peace, prosperity and ever-growing national strength.

The events that unfolded soon after and years later, however, make one wonder whether the Prime Minister’s speech was not simply an empty great speech by a great orator. Soon the new nation spiralled into chaos, crises and a horrific reign of terror under Idi Amin. These problems, in my opinion, were rooted in the absence of the spirit of patriotism in post-independent Uganda.

Perhaps the first indicator of the absence of patriotism was the formation of the Kabaka Yekka party. This political outfit was formed with the sole purpose of fronting the interests of Buganda Kingdom, the most powerful part of Uganda then.

They formed an alliance with Milton Obote’s UPC on the condition that the interests of Buganda would be preserved.

However, this was at the expense of the new Uganda. For this unholy, unpatriotic alliance eventually gave Obote a comfortable lead against the Democratic Party, which had enjoyed majority representation in the pre-independence parliament, making Obote the

first Prime Minister of Uganda.

While Buganda Kingdom would do anything to protect its interests against the rest of the country, later events proved that the Obote administration would soon grow wary of Buganda’s demands. It was the failure to heed Buganda’s demands that orchestrated events which led to the Mengo Crisis in 1966.

What followed was the Pigeon Hole Constitution, outlawing the special status of Buganda and abolishing kingdoms. This made Obote President with full executive powers, and led to Kabaka Muteesa II fleeing to exile on 24 May 1966.

The flip side of the Mengo Crisis is that it was a result of Obote’s resolve to stay in power. This was after a vote of no confidence in him while he was in northern Uganda because of his involvement in a gold corruption scandal in the Congo together with his army protégé Idi Amin Dada.

By this time, Obote had become the darling of Uganda’s military forces. After an attempted coup in 1965, when the military demanded swifter promotions and higher pay, Obote elected to shift his commitment from Buganda Kingdom to the self-centred army.

This self-preservation, with little regard for the citizenry as expressed in the 1962 Constitution, caused the ease with which Obote overthrew the 1962 Constitution, proclaiming himself President.

Suffice to say that with the support of the army, Obote’s confidence was strengthened, unveiling a new kind of leader, characterised by tribalism, an unforgiving spirit, corruption, and insensitivity. This ushered in a dictatorial regime, characterised by repression. All other political parties were banned, leaving only UPC.

 

On January 25, 1971, while Obote was out of the country in a Commonwealth Summit in Singapore, Uganda’s army under Amin ousted him from the presidency.

Obote fled to Tanzania, and Amin, for eight years, instituted a bloody regime of terror and repression which resounded throughout the world, leaving immense negative consequences with which Uganda is still grappling to undo to this day, 37 years later.

Although it is not possible to assess each and every event that unfolded after Uganda became independent, we can conclude that the newly born Uganda was handed over to men without patriotic dedication.

Therefore, recalling our history which has been characterised by political and constitutional instability, I appeal to fellow Ugandans and friends of Uganda, to re-ignite the long-suppressed patriotic spirit and love for our nation. Let us all do the best in our power to build a great future for this nation, the Pearl of Africa, as we celebrate our 54th independence anniversary.

The writer is an Assistant Chaplain UgandaChristianUniversity, Mukono.

Uganda health sector problem bigger than chemistry passes

BY ALEX TAREMWA

In December 2014, my nephew Sheldon was admitted at Holy Innocents’ Hospital, one of the best children hospitals in Mbarara. He was anemic, dehydrated, and he had malaria that forced him to stare death in the eye.

When I arrived, I was ushered into the ward by a nurse who I later learnt was a Uganda Christian University (UCU) Nursing Science student doing her internship.

As an alumnus, I left that day feeling safe; I knew my title of uncle would last a lot longer. When I returned in the morning, I found the nurse babysitting and feeding the baby. Her conduct, discipline, competence and knowledge portrayed nothing short of professionalism.

It is possible that this young lady did not do or pass chemistry at A-level and even armed with her four-year hard-earned degree, the Uganda Nursing and Midwives Council (UNMC) will not register her for practice.

In principle that is the right thing to do, but does it solve Uganda’s health sector problem?

The Ugandan health sector has experienced challenges related to recruitment and retention of qualified staff, mainly due to low remuneration as well as insufficient career opportunities.

According to the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit (BMAU) in the Ministry of Health report, in 2010 there was a very low doctor to patient ratio of 1:24,725 and a nurse to patient ratio of 1:11,000, way below the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of 1:439 as the health worker to population ratio.

Worse still, maternal and infant mortality are still going through the roof, traditional midwives are still delivering babies with their rudimentary tools, clinics and pharmacies across the country are manned by nurses with three months’ training or even less – some reusing syringes for injections and getting away with it.

For Uganda to meet the minimum health standards, the number of health workers must triple. Attention, therefore, needs to shift from cheap politicking to the core of the problem, which is poor composition of health professionals.

According to the 2011 Human Resources for Health Audit Report, with respect to the national level staffing, the proportion of the filled approved positions was found to be only 58 per cent.

Out of the 55,063 approved positions, only 31,797 are filled, leaving 23,321 vacant positions. The situation is worse at the level of health centre IIs. Out of 4,905 posts in 1,321 health centre IIs in the country, only 2,197 (45 per cent) are filled.

I admit that there could be life threatening consequences arising from a health worker’s lack of chemistry knowledge or background, but I submit there are greater consequences from having none at all.

Enough of the games, if UNMC lacks the guts to do the right thing; that is waive chemistry only for the degree holding nurses without it so far, for the sake of Ugandans, someone else should.

Resolution to graduate nurses’ impasse overdue

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Uganda Christian University (UCU) and three other universities are embroiled in an im-passe over the issuance of practicing certificates to their graduate nurses, on the grounds that they do not meet the minimum qualifications.

The body responsible for issuing the practic- ing certificates, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC), contends that despite hold- ing degrees, the nurses either did not sit for or pass both chemistry and biology at advanced level.

UCU argues that there is no indication that the programme of study was not accredited; that the students were not taught properly, or that they did not acquire adequate nursing knowledge and skills.

On and on the arguments and counter argu- ments go; drawing in the National Council for Higher Education, courts of law, and parliament.

As these ‘elephants’ fight, the ‘grass’ (gradu- ates, parents and sponsors, and patients in health centers across the country) continue to suffer.

What is apparent is that a mistake was made, and whoever is responsible for it should own up and speedily seek an effective way forward to end the suffering. Then, all concerned parties need to en- gage in soul searching and realise that continuing the impasse is not going to take away the problem.

More importantly, those whose mistake it is not, but who are part of solution seeking, should swallow their pride. No more going around in circles and blaming so and so. Instead of finger pointing, work towards a gainful way forward. Short of that we are all losers who will end up throwing out the baby with the bath water.

How to make use of eLearning and eResources at UCU

thekla.jpgTHECLA ATUKWASE

Thanks to the advancements in information communication technology because students can now make use of electronic resources and also learn electronically. These two concepts, eResources and eLearning, are part and parcel of knowledge acquisition and sharing. Though used interchangeably, the two terms are different and below are the distinctive highlights of each, to enable use make the best of use of both.eResources refer to any information or material that can be accessed electronically.

These may take the form of electronic journals, scholarly databases, electronic books, hybrid digital collections and internet gateways.

The eResources are famous for their convenience, and having access to the latest and up–to-date information.

The inherent extra features for eResources such as links to other databases, search facilities and supplementary information all make it a plus.

eLearning on the other hand is a learning platform that utilises electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside a traditional classroom.

eLearning includes but is not limited to completely virtual programmes, distance learning and blended programmes that are a hybrid of traditional classrooms and eLearning platforms.

The good trend of eLearning has been embraced by UCU as well.

According to the UCU strategic plan for teaching and learning, goal 3.5, there is need to maximize on creating programmes that can make education available to a wider, non-residential student population and eLearning is one way that can help us achieve this objective.

 

The eLearning platform has multiple advantages that include cost effectiveness and saving plenty of time since limitations of space and distance are overcome.

Learning takes place 24/7, anywhere, anytime. This flexibility amplifies the issue of convenience associated with eLearning.

The discreet nature of eLearning is another strong point. The platform allows individuals to tackle the subject matter at their own pace. Tracking of course progress is also possible courtesy of the Learning Management Systems (LMS).

UCU uses the Moodle learning management system where students can log in from anywhere in the world to access their class materials and interact with one another.

Each institution uses a specific system, but they are all similar in their ability to present course material including class syllabus, assignments,

quizzes, and provide video and audio plus a whiteboard screen where the lesson is presented just like it would be on a classroom’s video screen or blackboard.

You can interact with instructors, access course materials and stimulate debate among your fellow students when it fits your schedule.

All specific course information such as how to reach the instructor, what work is expected, and deadlines to turn in assignments and take tests will be found within your course site.

In conclusion, eResources and eLearning are complimentary aspects of the learning process at UCU, so lecturers and students are encouraged to make the best use of both.

Atukwase is a Librlian at Hamu Mukasa Library, Uganda Christian Unversity

The Agony of Christ

My topic today is common in churches. However, it is among the least understood messages because our knowledge of it is limited. This could be because it is impossible for us to fully comprehend the agony Jesus suffered during His Passion.

How can our human minds grasp the gruesome death of our Saviour and its compelling power? This is an attempt to unpack that mystery. Christ’s suffering is also called His Passion. The Passion of Christ has many angles, the first of which is His anticipated suffering.

As a little boy, malaria attacked me several times. Our town had a medical assistant who ran a treatment scheme out of his home. He was famous for his fearsome ‘needles’, as we called the injections that he liberally administered to young children suffering from malaria.

Our father dutifully took us to him when we were unwell. The medical assistant would promptly take out his ‘needle’, immerse it in water in a saucepan, light a paraffin stove and proceed to boil the water in full view of the intended victim! I would sit there helpless, cringing with fear, anticipating the suffering when that needle would eventually tear through my backside.

My anguish to an extent reflects the agony of Jesus that night when Judas walked out to betray him. Jesus anticipated the physical, spiritual, mental, and social pain He would endure in the coming hours of doom. His perspiration turned into buckets of sweat; which Luke calls “great drops of blood”.

But I think that Jesus’ worst nightmare was separation from the Father! On the cross He cried, “My father, my father, why have you forsaken me?” To make sense of this, consider that eternity has no beginning and no end; eternity is.

The Father and the Son had known unbroken pure, loving, fellowship with each other eternally but on that cross they were parted. As humans, our love is time-bound and it has ups and downs. Even those who pledge the deepest love on earth can never assure unbroken fellowship. They get parted, and we talk of heartaches. The Father and the Son did not know this life.

Their love was deep and knew no end. That was broken for the first and last time on the Cross. The Father and the Son were parted because Jesus was carrying the sin of the world. This is another enigma. The Bible puts it simply: “He who knew no sin took our sin.” And He carried the full consequences of sin. Separation from the Father within Himself and physical death became possible this once in eternity.

Years ago, one of my sons was very ill. His body temperature tested the maximum on the doctors’ thermometers. One night, while my wife was away, and I was in bed with this young boy, his body touched me.

It felt like red-hot charcoal! I jumped up, gripped with fear, and dressed hastily to take him to hospital. I am glad there was no traffic or traffic police on the road. Love moved me.

My eyes welled with tears at the thought of losing a son I love. In a very small way I felt his pain, and I was there for my son. So it was with Jesus. He was there for you and for me. He suffered our pain of sin. Peter says, “He bore our sins in His body on the tree.” The final perspective I want to reflect on is Judas’ betrayal. As Michael Card sang,

“Only a friend can betray a friend.” Jesus washed Judas’ feet, and shared bread with him at the Passover dinner. John reflects on Jesus’ love, saying, “… having loved His own … He loved them to the end.”

Still, Judas betrayed Him and Jesus had to bear this agony too. Jesus went through agony, rejection, separation from the father, and betrayal by His friends, for you and me. The song writer Clay Crosse put it that, “He walked a mile in my in my shoes.”

Achieving academic excellence at campus

BY PRISCA AMONGIN

I trust that the first year students have settled into class and most of us are adjusting to this academic setting. In the recent issue of The Standard, the Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, clearly spelt out some of the guidelines for the first year students from a moral and spiritual perspective.Here are a few highlights for adjusting to the academic environment, and successfully complete your studies.

https://thestandarducu.files.wordpreshttps://thestandarducu.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/page-13.jpg?w=1462s.com/2016/09/page-13.jpg?w=1462You will be interacting with words like: coursework, tutorials, GPA, among others. I assure you it is possible for anyone to attain a first class or a good second upper degree if you devote time and effort to your studies.

By the time you are admitted to a specific course, it means that you are able to excel.

Do not only wait for the exams timetable to come out before you start reading. At UCU, excelling commences right from the course work results.

It is much easier to score an A+ if by the time you get to the exams you already have good coursework grades. Therefore, excelling academically starts with your first assignment, in the first semester of your first year.

Secondly, at university, you need to work smart even as you work hard. Focus on keenness.

Listen attentively, listen for details. For example if a lecturer asks you to research about a particular topic, put emphasis on that, because it is most likely you will be examined from that area. Also, take note of the key points discussed in class.

At the university it is rare that you will write notes the way we did in high school. You have to fend for yourself and probably your lecturer will not ask you to do this. The onus is upon you to research and take notes.

Another secret is discovering what the lecturer is interested in. Study the examples they cite in their work and use those as reference points even in your coursework.

I know you might be still trying to understand your lecturers, but do not think too much about that.

Focus and accept them already, without prejudice that could block your attention. For example, it is evident that dislike for someone could make you fail a subject.

Work in teams with your classmates, engage in different discussion groups. University is a place where teamwork and sharing yield synergy and push you to heights you would never have scaled on your own.

Also, there is a bulk of information in the library. Make use of the internet, and research extensively.

Lastly, make time to serve God and his people.

This could be in one of the ministry platforms at UCU, through sports, MDD, charity work, among others. Desist from time wasting, destructive behaviour and bad company. Choose to be an exceptional student; choose success.

The writer is a second year student of Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Accounting