Uganda Christian University(UCU) has embarked on the process of conducting students’ guild elections using its own e-voting application named ‘e-Chagua,’ conjoined from a Kiswahili word meaning ‘choose’.
The university is expected to conduct the voting exercise on November 16 2020. The submission of applications by students interested in various positions will start on October 19th to October 23rd 2020, to allow the vetting process commence.
Since the University has resumed studies online, it cannot deliberate students matters without their representatives on the various university administrative bodies as required by the National Council for Higher Education regulations.
The current student’s council term is ending this month and most of its members are finalists. The Director of Students Affairs-DOSA Bridget Mugasira says the university is fortunate to have invested in developing the online voting app which is now ready to allow the entire student fraternity participate in the exercise.
She notes that even before the outbreak of Covid-19, the university was challenged to involve students from all its sister campuses in deciding their Guild President whose election is conducted at the main campus in Mukono yet decisions from his office affect all campuses.
The other UCU campuses include Bishop Barham University College-BBUC Kabale, UCU Mbale University College and the Medical School at Mengo.
The application also aims at reducing the time and costs spent during the election process. At the main campus alone, about 35 million Shillings is spent on logistics and the entire process of electing student leaders. Mugasira says it is most likely to drop down to 19 million.
UCU Web and e-learning Administrator Edwin Byarugaba explains that the e-voting system is designed with a voter’s registers section where student details are recorded and once the student is on a voter’s register, the system accepts him to generate a password to login and vote once.
Byarugaba says that the app has been tested through a sample election of theology college representatives where it turned out successful. The system can allow about 10,000 students participate at ago.
He further notes that it has been approved and accepted by the university council and the current students guild council. It shall be accessed by all students using MTN lines at a zero rate.
Byarugaba explains that apart from the system saving the university from spending money in printing ballots, it is more necessary during this pandemic period where distancing is required to save students from prolonged stay in long queues, monitoring counting of votes since it has been designed with a good back up for records and all results shall be directly displayed on screens on the voting day.
Boss John Bruce, the chairperson of UCU students guild Electoral Commission says the online system is also going to accommodate students who have been missing elections for being off campus in September when the main election is conducted. Entrepreneurship and Theology students have always turned up in February to vote for their representatives.
Bruce says students will be competing for positions of Guild president at the main campus, Vice guild president at sister campuses, same with faculty representatives.
About 8,000 students are expected to participate in the election process. Elections for leaders at the main campus and Kampala campus shall be conducted first and then other campuses the following week.
The University shall conduct its general campaigns using various online platforms used for conducting studies and then also a debate for guild presidents to be conducted on television.