On Friday 5th September 2014, the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT), Makerere University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) held a dinner and award ceremony for the second cohort of The Innovative Doctoral Education for Global Food Security course participants. The Innovative Doctoral Education for Global Food Security is a joint project, between Makerere University and SLU focused on development and performance of courses for doctoral students and workshops for senior staff.
The second cohort which ran from 18th August to 5th September 2014, drew participants from the host institution Makerere University as well as from three African satellite universities. The training was facilitated by teachers from SLU and Makerere University who jointly developed and performed courses and workshops for up to 40 participants.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) noted that the training was based on a premise that Doctoral students in Africa are facing similar problems in their respective institutions. The training was therefore an opportunity for Makerere University to come together with partners from the North and nurture the next generation of academics through tackling pressing societal problems.
“Makerere University is excited about the prospect offered by this training because the issue of food security is at the centre of societal development. Your topic may not be on food security but at the end of the day, we are all facing the same multifaceted challenge which will call for a multi-disciplinary approach,” encouraged Prof. Buyinza.
He expressed his gratitude to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) for choosing Makerere as the host institution, “We are happy that we have managed to deliver on all aspects of the course within the three weeks’ duration and as researchers who are going to engage in scholarly writing or academics, we commend you all for persevering till the very end,” lauded the Director.
He further urged all participants not to miss out on the most important aspect of such trainings, which is to form new networks. He noted that we all have one planet and should therefore always contribute to its sustainable upkeep. “The most gratifying thing when visiting another institution is to meet a familiar face. I therefore encourage you to always write multi-national multi-institutional projects that fully utilize the networks you have formed,” he advised. He commended his team at DRGT for ensuring that all administrative matters related to the training were well taken care of.
Cross-cutting courses at Doctoral level are very vital in nurturing Students’ research and publication skills. Speaking at the dinner Prof. George Nasinyama, Deputy Director-Research, DRGT appreciated the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) for working with Makerere University to shape the PhD landscape on the African continent.
“Skills enhancement courses as initiated on the African continent have been found to be quite useful, and cross-cutting courses for Doctoral students have formed a very good basis. DRGT has developed and coordinated a number of cross-cutting courses with support from development partners and these have adequately dealt with the technical aspects in the various disciplines,” remarked Prof. Nasinyama.
He reemphasized the need for participants in the Mak-SLU joint project to come together and coin another network in the same league as the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) and Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) networks, “We believe that you will greatly benefit from these,” he advised.
Speaking on behalf of her fellow course teachers, Associate Professor Lotta Hansson, Project Manager-SLU Global commended both facilitators and participants for making it possible for her to be so happy, “I am happy to dress up in this wonderful Ugandan attire and celebrate the successful completion of the three week Doctoral course,” enthused the beaming Associate Professor. “I celebrate the facilitators from both Makerere and SLU for planning and successfully implementing this course,” she briefly but joyfully added.
The role of mentorship in the quest to nurture the next generation of academics or researchers cannot be overemphasized. Professor Elly Sabiiti, a distinguished Senior Academic and Researcher in the field of food security as well as mentor to countless academics including Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza attended the dinner and shared a few words of wisdom. He expressed his contentment at witnessing the initiative that was embarked on during one cold winter afternoon in Sweden with Assoc. Prof Lotta bringing forth such immense results.
“Today I am seeing value for all the efforts put in and you are the testimony. If you did not see the value in this training, you would not have left the comfort of your respective institutions to come to Makerere. The knowledge that you have attained during thid training may not be help you tomorrow or during the course of your PhD but it will be very valuable at a later date. Nevertheless, stay hungry for knowledge,” advised Prof. Sabiiti.
He further advised participants to remain at the frontline of new knowledge if they were to advance their careers, noting that the Innovative Doctoral training had only served to whet their appetites. He noted that Enquiry-Based Learning was becoming more of the norm in modern training and commended the participants upon having added more value to themselves and their respective institutions.
“My passion has always been to find something that is good for mankind and that can benefit many people. Through mentorship, I have benefited others like Professor Mukadasi Buyinza and I am glad that they heeded my advice to always share. I am confident that there is continuity in the system I have left behind,” said Professor Sabiiti. Taking inspiration from a wise saying handed down to him by his own father, he concluded his remarks by urging all participants to always share the knowledge they acquire saying, “If you want to receive more, keep your hands open by giving”.
In moving a vote of thanks on behalf of all participants, Mr. Martin K. from the Jomo Kenyatta University, Kenya took his audience on an eloquent journey on the concept of time. Exploring two derivatives of time; Chronos and Kairos in Greek and Hebrew respectively, Martin noted that although they had participated in a fulfilling three weeks of Chronos; denoting actual time, it was now the moment of Kairos; denoting the time of fulfillment, for the participants to harness all that they had learnt through the course.
“It is now the time of fulfillment to achieve all that we had set out to do, thanks to riding on the shoulders of giants; Makerere University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Putting things together is logistically challenging and we therefore heartily thank the team from DRGT for ensuring that all our needs were well taken care of,” he enthused.
He urged fellow participants to go on and finish their degrees or else perish in the All But Dissertation (ABD) class. He also shared that the feedback he received from a questionnaire circulated earlier in the day showed that 93% of participants were happy with the training. He however requested the programme designers to include Data Analysis as a course in the next cohort.
The highlight of the day was a musical performance of two Swedish folk songs by the SLU-Global team; Prof Lotta Hansson, Ms. Camilla Soderquist, Ms. Moa Hedbrant and Ms. Nicolette Karst. All participants were awarded Academic Certificates at the conclusion of their Doctoral Training Course.
Article by Public Relations Office, Makerere university