“I think you can no longer challenge Makerere. Makerere is like Windows. Everybody with a computer, it is run by windows,” Prof. Waswa Balunywa, the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Principal said candidly on Thursday 25th November 2021 during a stakeholder engagement event.
Prof. Balunywa who was on the panel with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Executive Director Mrs. Dorothy Kisaka and the University Secretary Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, said that Makerere has mothered all the institutions in Uganda. He thinks the University has set a standard that all other institutions in the country must follow.
Prof. Balunywa has been at the helm of MUBS since 1991 when it was still Faculty of Commerce at Makerere University and is cognisant of the institution’s academic reputation. Thus he thinks, the “pricelessness of Makerere must be leveraged to move not only Makerere ahead but higher education and the entire education system in this country. Makerere has this capacity. It needs to be a bit innovative and freer.”
Concurring with Prof Balunywa, Kiranda quipped, “Makerere has enjoyed the last 100 years as the elephant in the house.”
As Makerere prepares to mark its centennial journey next year, it will be engaging stakeholders, partners, alumni, students, and staff through a series of events. Makerere University Council Chairperson, Mrs. Lorna Magara urged stakeholders to partner with the institution to make the “future more impactful.”
The panelists who discussed the topic, “leveraging 100 years of excellence in building a transformed society” tipped Makerere on areas where it needs to improve. Mrs. Dorothy Kisaka advised Makerere to focus on human capital development through collaboration and partnerships between the institution and the workplaces by creating a window for students in order to prepare them for post-university life. It’s a proposal that was reinforced by other panelists and speakers.
Dr. Michael Walimbwa, a Lecturer in the College of Education and External Studies said the University should develop a partnership pedagogy, in which stakeholders, students, and research institutions come together, collaborate to plan and assess and get the feedback in real-time.
“Partnership pedagogy is beyond internship opportunities. It is really working together with research institutions, with stakeholders out there, planning teaching activities to assess them, to evaluate them and get the impact in real-time,” Walimbwa said.
Impact, research, and innovation
In the next century, Mr. Kiranda said the University is going to be focusing on its impact on society. “We are supposed to be moving from the league of asking ourselves what is our ranking in the country, on the continent, in the world to asking ourselves, what is that impact in society which is clearly attributed to Makerere.”
As other people count first-class degrees, Makerere, Mr. Kiranda said, will be counting its impactful research and innovation. “The focus in the next 100 years is helping this country to overcome challenges it has.”
Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said they see issues such as rapid population growth, youth unemployment, riots, climate change, food insecurity, unending conflicts, among others which must be tackled through research and innovation. To tackle these challenges, he said, “We must modernise the research infrastructure, we must modernize laboratories, come up with central laboratories.”
The University, Prof. Nawangwe said, will also leverage science and technology power to “help young people incubate their ideas into businesses, begin companies and create jobs for a multitude of the youths coming out and of course further human resource development.”
Prof. Balunywa further applauded Makerere University for transformative research. In the coming years, he said, research conducted should be in line with the direction the country is taking, hinged on finding local solutions to our problems.
“There is no business in this country that hasn’t been done elsewhere in the world. If you want any product, the Chinese have it. If you want any application, the Europeans have it. Our research must be focused in those areas where we think we can add value in the country and in the continent,” he said.