By Musinguzi Harriet, Principal Communication Officer, CEDAT
KAMPALA — The School of Engineering at the College of Engineering, Design, Art, and Technology on Wednesday 5th The School of Engineering at the College of Engineering, Design, Art, and Technology on Wednesday 5th October 2022 hosted a team from the UNESCO China Funds –in -Trust project phase III.
The team was on a mission to assess progress made in the implementation of the project namely; Higher Technical Education in Africa for a Technical and Innovative workforce (CFIT III), an initiative by UNESCO with support from China.
The School of Engineering under the stewardship of the Dean, Assoc. Prof. Dorothy Okello is implementing the CFIT III project through which intervention, the unit is expected to produce better trained, skilled, knowledgeable and highly employable engineering graduates that fit into the needs of the industry.
The visiting team was led by Peter J. Wells, the Chief Higher Education at UNESCO Paris and it included Ms. Anne Murphy from TU Dublin, Ms. Quingling Kong, from UNESCO Headquarters and Saba Bhokari from Nairobi, Kenya. Together with the hosts from CEDAT and other project stakeholders, they had an interaction to get appraised on the status of implementation of the project
Assoc. Prof. Dorothy Okello, the Dean School of Engineering, CEDAT, Makerere University, welcomed the guests and gave a brief background of the project. In her brief about the project, she said the China Funds-in-Trust (CFIT) Phase III: Higher technical education in Africa for a technical and innovative workforce project aims at enhancing the capacity of higher education institutions to respond to the skill needs for national development. She said the project was ongoing in six African countries inclusive of Uganda where Makerere University and Mbarara University of Science and Technology were the implementing entities.
Assoc. Prof. Dorothy Okello explained that the three-year project outputs focused on the improved delivery of technical education through utilization of information from labor market analysis, curriculum review and graduate tracer studies.
She further explained that by the year 2024, the project would have contributed to the realization of improved quality and relevance of curricular in higher education institutions, that is not only inclusive but also in tandem with the labor market demands and gender equity. The other outcome of the project she said, would be competence based training arising out of the adoption of improved assessment methods by the institutions. It is also expected that through project interventions, cooperation between higher education institutions and private sector stakeholders would be strengthened and this would in turn inform the labor market analysis, curriculum review, work based training opportunities, program development and therefore better delivery of higher education.
The Visiting team that also paid a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe was informed that Makerere University was committed to providing transformative and innovative teaching, learning, research and services responsive to the dynamic national and global goals.
While highlighting the provisions of the University’s strategic Plan 2020-2030, it was explained that by unlocking the knowledge hub in the Heart of Africa’, Makerere University was transforming into a research led institution with a multi faced research agenda and enhanced engagement with the industry and business sector, and this was in line with the project.
‘The overall objective of the CFIT II project at Makerere University with a focus on the School of Engineering is to strengthen industry – academia partnerships in support of graduates with training that is better aligned to the labor market and industry needs thereby increasing the employability and engagement of CEDAT engineering graduates’, she stated in her brief.
The Dean specifically noted that the engineering programs offered at CEDAT were to expected to improve through insights arising from the labor market and tracer studies, curriculum review to incorporate the insights, improved employability through introduction of competence based assessments as well as increased academia, industry engagements so as to enhance the contribution of CEDAT engineering students, graduates and faculty in addressing industry challenges and skills.
During the deliberations, the project implementation team made presentation of the tasks accomplished and the progress made.
These covered the Graduate Tracer Study that was presented by Dr. Vincent Sembatya, the labour Market Analysis, by Prof. Yawe, a presentation about the research infrastructure at School of Engineering which was presented by Dr. W. Olupot as well as the Engineering students presented by Mr. Noah Misfin, the President, Makerere Engineering Society (MES).
The presentations highlighted what had been undertaken todate, the challenges identified as well as proposals for improvements in the respective areas.
The presentation about the state of infrastructure in the School of engineering identified a number of areas that needed to be addressed across all engineering programs namely civil, mechanical, electrical.
The apparent gaps identified were staffing with less than 50% staffing levels which led to taking on part time staff.
There was lack of space dedicated for graduate students, lack of specialists in many specialties, the limited academic staff, inadequate equipment as well as lack of maintenance policy for the equipment in the school.
Among the recommendations was that the school designates reading space for graduate students, drawing timetables for master’s programs across the schools as well as ensuring that departments had strategic plans for guided approaches in recruitments in addition to involving graduate students in stop gap measures.