Meet Nkumba University's Prof. Michael Mawa who graduated with a PhD at 33

Meet Nkumba University's Prof. Michael Mawa who graduated with a PhD at 33
Micheal Mawa is an Associate Professor of Development Studies in the School of Social Sciences at Nkumba University.
Micheal Mawa is an Associate Professor of Development Studies in the School of Social Sciences at Nkumba University.

With a soft spoken accent, I could notice a gentle look in an academic giant whose calmness is a true description of a person brought up on principles of the catholic church.

No wonder, he was a pioneer student at Uganda Martyrs University (UMU), a Catholic founded private university in Uganda in 1993, as Philimon Badagawa writes.

The gentleman is Dr. Michael Mawa who was born in May 1970. Proudly speaking, Mawa says, “I was the first student to walk into UMU and I had a strong determination to succeed”.

At Uganda Martyrs University, Mawa studied a course leading to the award of a BA in Ethics and Development Studies.

After completing his Masters degree in Applied Ethics in 1997 at KU Leuven in Belgium, he returned to Uganda and started teaching at Uganda Martyrs University that same year.

He was later funded by the Catholic Church to study a PhD in Social Sciences in Italy in 2001. On completing his PhD in 2003 at 33 years, Mawa became one of the youngest PhD graduates in Uganda at such a age.

But all has not been a bed of roses. “My baby face does not reflect my academic qualifications and this has denied me a number of work opportunities “, Dr. Michael Mawa says.

“I had to leave my family behind, I had a child of 3 months when I left for my PhD in Italy. And while in Italy I faced a challenge of social cultural integration.”

Assoc.Prof. Michael Mawa
Assoc.Prof. Michael Mawa

But as a determined person, Mawa managed to overcome this by employing social capital networking and he finally got friends.

He happily says that by the time he completed his PhD, he had leant the Italian language. Meaning – besides the PhD, Mawa also learnt a new language.

Work Experience: Michael Mawa is currently an Associate Professor of Development Studies in the School of Social Sciences at Nkumba university where he also doubles as the head of quality assurance, a position he says has made him move regions.

He is also the President of the Ugandan Universities Quality Assurance Forum (UUQAF) as well as the Founding President of the East African Higher Education Quality Assurance Network (EAQAN).

Mawa is an appointed quality assurance expert for the Inter-university Council for East Africa and the National Council for Higher Education Uganda.

He has served as a quality assurance consultant in programme assessment, institutional assessment, QA training and QA Project Evaluation for the National Council for Higher Education – Uganda, Commission for University Education – Kenya and the Inter-University Council for East Africa.

What is killing Ugandan Universities? He says the greatest challenge facing Universities today is that most institutions are doing more teaching than research.

“Many universities today are concentrating on teaching yet research that forms the basis of higher education is ignored”, Mawa laments.

Massage to graduates: Social networks are the key to success in the academic area and in the world at large. “All challenges can be overcome through social networks,” he notes.

Social Life: Off from the academic work life of this young Doctor, Mawa spends his leisure time with his children when out of the lecture room and office. And while in the village, he spends his leisure time with country elders listening to stories.

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