Vice-Chancellor’s Graduation Speech 2019

Vice-Chancellor’s Graduation Speech 2019

Read Professor Joy C Kwesiga’s (Vice-Chancellor of Kabale University) speech which was given at the Fourth (4th) Graduation Ceremony of Kabale University as a Public University.

Date: 25th October 2019

On behalf of the Kabale University community, I welcome you all to the 4th Graduation Ceremony since Kabale University attained Public Status.

I wish to warmly welcome the Chancellor, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera, and to state, on behalf of the rest of the University, that it is always a pleasure to welcome you here.

In the same vein, we do welcome the Chairperson of the University Council, and Members of Council and the Senate.  Your presence is most valued.

In a special way, I wish to welcome our Guest Speaker, Professor Augustus Nuwagaba.  He has always taken special interest in the growth of this University, since its inception.

I welcome all the representatives of sister institutions.  We do appreciate this comradeship. Those present to be recognized accordingly.  These include the Head of the East African Leadership Institute in Burundi, with whom plans for collaboration are in advanced stages.

I welcome all the civic and religious leaders present.

The staff, students and management of Kabale University are recognized.

All our distinguished guests, in your individual capacities, you are all welcome!

We recognize the presence of Dr Leonard Chacha Mwita, who is a Visiting Professor from Kenyatta University, in Kenya.   He is here under the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) Staff Exchange Programme, for a duration of three months.   He is serving full time under the Kiswahili Language Studies Unit.

We also recognize the presence of seven Volunteers from the Republic of Nigeria, who are serving in various Departments for a period of two years – under an agreement between the Governments of Uganda and Nigeria.

I recognize the presence of Mr. Simon Woodgate, my special Guest from London, who I met about 15 years back, we became friends, and I have finally managed to get him to visit Uganda – and Kabale. 

Mr Chancellor, Sir, we have received apologies from Uganda Christian University (UCU) who are holding a similar ceremony at the same time; the Inter University Council for East Africa – who are running a regional conference in Kampala; and Ngozi University in Burundi.

Mr. Chancellor, Sir, I wish to provide a brief summary about the current status of the University.    I will be focusing on areas that promote quality teaching and learning, in terms of building the support system for executing our work. As you will note from subsequent comments, the University continues to make steady progress.  The Semester started off well, with new students arriving on 3rd August 2019, and things are moving on as expected.

STUDENT MATTERS: 

First, let summarise issues relating to student welfare.

(i)      Student Leadership:

The Guild Presidential elections were held on 16th March 2019, when H.E. Evelyne Natukunda, a 3nd Year Student of Bachelor of Arts (Education) was elected.  I request the Guild President and her team to stand up for recognition.  I also wish to report that so far; her Government is collaborating with Management very well.  Ms Natukunda is the Second Female Guild President in the history of Kabale University. We congratulate her.

(ii) Student enrolment:  

Estimated enrollment by the end of this Academic Year is 3080.  As of today, a total of 2999 students are registered.  Of these, 1937 are male, while 1062 are female, making up 34%.   A total of 318 are Government sponsored, of whom 60 are female.   Privately sponsored students constitute a total of 2681 of whom 1679 are male and 1002 female, who constitute 37%.

(iv)    Co-curricular activities:

Students continue to participate in sports, clubs and to participate in organized public talks and other community-related activities.  Examples include:

  • Freshers’ welcome matches with continuing students in major disciplines like football, Volleyball, Netball and Athletics.
  • The Union has also using its funds upgraded the basketball court and it is now in use.
  • Inter – Faculty games in all sports disciplines were held from 18th -20th October 2019 and, the Faculty of Education emerged the overall winner for both men and women.
  • The best players in the Inter Faculty games will be selected for the forthcoming Inter – University Games scheduled for 15th – 20th December 2019 in Kisubi University.
  • A total of 3 public talks have been held this Semester, and these include two health public talks and medical Camps by Mariestopes and Reproductive Health Uganda, and during the medical camps, safe male circumcision, Hepatitis B screening, testing for STDS and other reproductive health issues were done.
  • The third Public talk was given by a new member of staff, Professor Benon Basheka – on University Student Governance, and Patriotism.
  • Kabale University Medical Students’ Association members and their teachers hosted the Annual Conference of the Federation of Uganda Medical Students’ Association, (FUMSA), which brings together medical students from all medical schools in Uganda. This took place from 10th to 13th October 2019, here at Kabale University    It was a great boost to the young Kabale University School of Medicine (KABSOM).

(v)    Graduate studies continue to be strengthened.  Ph.D Programmes in various fields are at different levels of accreditation.  The process has taken long – but we are sure that by the beginning of the academic year, next August several of them will be running.  Members of the public are urged to keep checking on the KAB Website.

 

 HUMAN RESOURCE

Our first efforts since attaining public status have been geared towards improving staffing levels, as a key lever to quality service.  I am happy to report, with appreciation, that this Financial Year, a total of UGX 9.5 Billion was provided by the Government of Uganda for staff recruitment.  By the end of the exercise, 133 new staff will have joined Kabale University workforce.  So far, over 80 members have already reported.  Others are due to appear for interview soon.  This is vital for the University because the level of an institutions human resource underpins the level of quality service provided.

It is important to note that as of now staff on ground are 313.  Of these, 99 are female.  Of the total number, 215 are academic, 63 administrative, while 35 are support staff.

The number of senior academic staff is steadily rising.  Sixty-five (65) members of staff hold Ph.D qualifications.  We have 14 full professors; 6 Associate Professors and 17 Senior Lecturers.  This is of course not ideal. 

Because it is difficult to easily and directly attract top level academicians, the University is also through its Staff Development Programme, encouraging staff to register for Ph.D studies, and to do research and publish.  Such fifteen (15) members of staff are pursuing Ph.D studies here and outside Uganda. 

We also run a compulsory course providing knowledge and skills on how to teach – specially developed for staff without an education background

I wish to point out, Mr. Chancellor, Sir, that in line with its policy of continuously reviewing staff welfare, those in the relevant age category have all been placed on permanent terms of Kabale University.  Only those who are barred by the retirement age or whose terms of service demand so, have remained on contractual terms.  This is to ensure job security, and of course, in turn, to require stable and quality service from the staff. 

RESEARCH

Kabale University has taken research activities seriously, notwithstanding the limited financial capacity of the University. Research is important in teaching and learning because of its contribution in deepening the understanding of existing knowledge and developing new techniques and methods for addressing societal problems.

At Kabale University we strive to use research findings to improve the competences of staff and students in teaching and learning. It is partly because of this role that Kabale University takes seriously its research function and is annually increasing its research outputs.

In this regard, I am happy to report that the University has increased the number of published research outputs in peer reviewed scientific journals from less than 10 in the 2016/2017 Academic Year to 45 in the 2018/2019 Academic Year. Most of these articles can be viewed on the Kabale Institutional Repository. In the 2019/2020 academic year, the plan of the Directorate of Research and Publications is to double this output.

The University is aware that this will require a lot of effort from staff and a lot of resources. In this regard, one of the strategies, especially regarding resource mobilization for research is to increase efforts in attracting external funding.  The University has put in place a Resource Mobilisation Committee, and is also in the process of recruiting a Grants Officer to support this process.  To be able to attract external funding, the Directorate of Research  is also working hard to establish the Kabale University Research Ethics Committee – under the guidance of the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.

The University is encouraging staff and students to be innovative.  That is why the University runs an Annual Open Day for exhibiting such innovations to the wider community.  Student and staff are keen in this direction, and as I speak, a group is holding such an exhibition at Speke Resort and Conference Centre, Munyonyo, where the East African Community Science, Technology and Innovation Conference and the Academia– Public– Private Partnership Forum Dialogue 2019 are taking place.

Other related academic pursuits, such as Seminars, Workshops, and public talks are taking place.  Staff are also attending externally organised conferences and workshops.  In this connection, I wish also to report that the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is planning for an International Conference scheduled for 12th, 13th; and 14th May, 2020.  The Conference is on Governance, Leadership, and Social Transformation under the theme:  “Advancing knowledge for Social Transformation in a Dynamic Global World”.   Details are on the Kabale University website.

LIBRARY SERVICES

Along with enhancement of research, we have paid special attention to Library Services as follows:

  • Kabale University Digital Repository (KABDR). KABDR whose aim is to make the University visible through sharing the University’s own publications through open access (OA) is registering good progress with statistics showing increasing number of access and usage of uploaded publications.  For example, 85 publications so far uploaded have, from the month of April to October, registered 1496 users accessing the database from diverse countries.
  • Library Space Capacity. Since the last graduation the library seating capacity has increased from 220 to 370. This has been possible after opening four (4) library service centers at: Medical school (KABSOM) Makanga, Faculty of Engineering Nyabikoni and Mukombe Library and at the New Lecture Hall building.
  • Library Collection. The information materials collection has greatly been enhanced by the 768 new volumes purchased and 116 volumes donated totaling to 884 volumes added this academic year.
  • Staffing: The library service has added on 9 members of staff this academic year that has enabled the service to expand and operate a number of service centers on different campuses.
  • Online Resources: Kabale University has continued to jointly subscribe to online databases through the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL) providing more resource information materials to boost study, learning and research for both staff and students.
  • Library Project: The Library together with Faculties has hatched a project to document community information on innovations, knowledge and skills. This will feed into and boost the Repository (KABDR).   This is very important in fulfilling our mandate of provision of community service.

 INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT): 

This is also an important area that will enhance our capacity for quality service.

  • Kabale University adopted AIMS (Academic Information Management System) that is being run in all public universities and some private institutions. This online self-service system helps to reduce congestion and timely reporting on a number of operations across the University, including online admissions, online fees payments and automatic bank reconciliations, online registration, course unit assignments and generation of examination cards.
  • Kabale University has increased internet bandwidth across its campuses following the continued price reductions from RENU (Research and Education Network in Uganda), the service provider, as well as increased budget for ICT.

As a result of the above, KAB service has moved from a total of 28 MBPS to 72 MBPS.  We now serve three Campuses – Makanga (School of Medicine); Nyabikoni (Engineering); and the main Campus. This will continue to improve through annual increment in budget allocation to the Unit in charge.

  • The University periodically increases access to internet to all users (students and staff) through provision of WIFI facilities, whenever finances allow. Internet has further been commissioned in the General Lecture Halls under fiber optic as well as the newly commissioned offices across all campuses.
  • The University has supported neighboring institutions to have better connectivity under RENU, namely, the National Teachers College- Kabale (NTC)  and Uganda College of Commerce(UCC).
  • Kabale University benefited from the RENU Direct Engineering assistance. A Powerful Router and Wireless access points were availed.  Eduroam (Education Roaming ) was equally installed. Training is soon to be conducted to all students and staff to access this service. Eduroam allows one to access internet related services as one moves from one institution to another provided the visited institution is on Eduroam.
  • The University is in the process of finalizing the establishment of the ICT Academy under Huawei (Chinese service provider). The Academy is aimed at equipping professional networking skills (routing and switching) as well as increasing exposure to students through annul global ICT competitions. A total of seven ICT staff have already been trained in preparation for this exercise.

OTHER STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVEMENT OF SERVICE

Additional work towards supporting teaching and learning at KAB include:

  • Strengthening of the Quality Assurance Unit:  A Senior Quality Assurance Officer has been recruited to re-inforce the work already been done by the Unit.  The Unit helps to monitor staff performance.
  • Within our means, we have and continue to work to improve science laboratories, computer laboratories, workshop space for students of Engineering and Applied Design and Fine Art, and others.  These go along with purchase of essential equipment/machinery for various laboratories and workshops.  It is the policy of the University to purchase manageable numbers of Computers and some equipment and furniture, each Semester, as we build up the stock.  All these are aimed at providing better service.

In this connection, I am proud to inform you, Mr. Chancellor, that the Verification Team from the East African Medical Council which visited a few months back graded our Anatomy Laboratory as the best in East Africa!  

UNIVERSITY MASTER PLAN

I am glad to report that the University Master Plan has been completed.  The Consultant – Eco Shelter & Environmental Consultants – has submitted their final report which is being edited.  This Plan will guide the physical infrastructure development of the University for the next 50 years.   We thank the Government of Uganda for making funds available to complete this task.  We are therefore now ready for investment in infrastructure development.

IMMEDIATE CHALLENGES TO THE UNIVERSITY

Land Acquisition:
As stated last year, this is the request we are not about to drop.  We need more land on this hill.  We need more land from Kabale District Local Government.  There were some positive developments towards achieving this last April when an Inter-Ministerial meeting was held at State House, Nakasero over this matter.  As things stand, the University has fulfilled its LUBIMBI agreed upon, and we are  waiting, for the District Council to convene a meeting to finalise this matter.  We hope and pray that this will be sooner than later.

Mr. Chancellor, Sir, I need not emphasise that other Local Governments where public universities have been established have provided land – on average, to the tune of 1000 acres.  It is also noteworthy that the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act (2001 – amended) requires such Local Governments to provide land for the development of a public university established in their area Refer to Article 59.

Infrastructure Development:
This is still a weak spot.   The long-awaited General Lecture Halls Block was completed and is in use.  In addition, works on another three-storeyed Science Lecture Halls Block is at the stage of completion of the Ground Floor.    However, this is a drop in the ocean.  We are still looking for ways of meeting these needs, partly through some promised assistance by Government, by way of increased budget funding, and possible donor funding.  But we are also in the process of exploring Private-Public Partnership Ventures.

OBITUARY

Since the last Graduation Ceremony, almost 20 members of the Kabale community have lost either a parent, or a sibling.  I suggest that we remember these departed loved ones collectively.  I wish, however, to specifically inform the congregation about the passing away of the late Mr. Charles Byabakama, former Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Promoters of Kabale University, and former LCV Chairperson of Rukungiri District, who was buried on 27th July 2019.  He loved this University and contributed to its stability when he was in charge.

May the souls of all those departed rest in eternal peace!

FUTURE DIRECTION

Kabale University has gone through different phases of development so far.

  • Licence Stage starting 2005 – very minimal resources
  • Acquiring of Charter Status – which was strenuous, but KAB went through it triumphantly in 2014
  • Transition from Private to Public Status – a learning but rewarding stage. That has also ended.  We can say we are fully embedded in the mainstream of Public Universities.

All the above three stages have ended.  Challenges have been tackled.  Lessons have been learned.  The future must be faced.  In order to face the future squarely, the University must understand the environment in which it operates.   This is the first step into the future.  We note that currently, the operational environment illustrates the following:

  • The environment is competitive, locally, nationally, regionally and internationally, even by the mere numbers of growing similar institutions.
  • There are new modes of service delivery – full time, weekend, evening, distance, AND virtual. Kabale University has to choose its place here. 
  • There are new technologies to which KAB must adapt e.g. Lecture Rooms with all teaching aids and other E-Learning inputs.
  • Universities have moved from “the idea” of a University being for a few select beneficiaries to entrepreneurial institutions – with a focus on skilled product – ready for the market. Along with this goes “mass” production of students. Here, Kabale University has to choose its place. 

So, Mr. Chancellor, the direction we are taking continuously assesses our position within the local, national, regional and global world of learning.  When the above have been taken care of, that is when we can register innovation, quality service and be able to build centres of excellence, and scale up research where a KABALE UNIVERSITY NICHE WILL BE EMBEDDED. That is why Kabale University must work to become fully relevant to society.   The future of Kabale University therefore must embrace higher and higher aspirations.

These are our guiding principles into the future – as we develop new academic programmes, as we assess methods of delivery, as we focus on research and community service.

ABOUT THE CURRENT GRADUATION CEREMONY

A total of 900 graduands will be passed out.  The awards will include Diplomas, Undergraduate Degrees, and Masters Degrees.   Of the total number of Graduands, 40% are female.

As in the past, the 23 graduands who will be awarded 1st Class Degrees are recognized at this Ceremony. Six of thee are female.  Their names will be read at the end of this address and they will receive a Handshake from the Chancellor! We congratulate them.  In addition, they will receive a Certificate of Merit – which is something they can preserve for life.

There is another difference this year.  The 1st Class Awardees are normally referred to as being on the Vice Chancellor’s List.  Senate has gone further to create the Chancellor’s List.  This consists of two persons (a) the best male student, and (b) the best female student overall.  They will receive a special handshake from the Chancellor.

We congratulate them all.

Also important to note is that our 1st group of undergraduate degree beneficiaries of the Higher Education Students’ Loan Board at this University are graduating today.  They are 27 graduands, and of these 8 are female.  Last year, three (3) beneficiaries were awarded diplomas in Engineering.

The Graduand, for the Master of Public Health – Katusiime Hope –  is the pioneer in that area. We want to congratulate the student who was in this lonely class as well as his tutors.

Message to Graduands:

The message is contained in the quote below as food for thought, as you leave Kabale University.

Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20”.

The practice of comparing yourself with the cohort you are part of today has proved to be a source of temptation, corruption and other forms of wrong doing in Uganda.  This attitude has led many into trouble, e.g. wanting to “drive”, or own five houses within a period of three years, etc. simply because your contemporaries have acquired such assets.  Beware!  Keep on remembering that you are responsible for your own personal growth path. 

I congratulate you, wish you all the best in your future endeavours, and urge you to become active members of Convocation and to keep in touch with your institution.

 APPRECIATION

As in the past, we wish to express appreciation to the Government of Uganda for taking over this University and for the support it is providing.

In particular, we pay special tribute to H.E. the President for his personal interest in the University.  Similarly, we are grateful to the 1st Lady and Minister of Education for regular support.

We continue to thank the leader of Government Business, The Rt Hon. Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, who was also the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees before the University turned public, has always provided a listening ear.  We thank him.

We are welcomed into Government offices in the relevant Ministries and other agencies (Finance, Education, Public Service and others).

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has always been ready to support and guide the University.  We thank them.

We thank our oversight organ, the University Council led by Hon. Manzi Tumubweinee for their unwavering commitment to the University.

We want to thank the District Leadership in their varied capacities.  They continue to take interest in our progress and provide support where possible.

We thank the general community of Kabale University – for as we always point out on such occasions, they are a source of encouragement.

We thank students, staff and members of Management for their interest in working towards the growth of the University.

Last but not least, let me thank all those who have come to attend this function.  Your presence is very important as we celebrate the fruits of our labour, as a University.

I thank you all.

Knowledge is the Future!
For God and My Country!

Professor Joy C Kwesiga
VICE CHANCELLOR
Email:  jckwesiga@gmail.com  or jckwesiga@kab.ac.ug; vc@kab.ac.ug
Tel:      +256-772485267 or +29656-7518123251

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