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Makerere to equip policymakers with research outputs

Participants of the dissemination workshop

Participants of the dissemination workshop

Makerere University is organizing another first; a roundtable with national policymakers and implementers to avail them consolidated policy briefs from a number of their research outputs, writes JOHN MUSINGUZI.

Prof Umar Kakumba, the deputy vice chancellor, Academic Affairs, disclosed this in the Senate Building on January 12, 2023. He was closing the final dissemination workshop of a project called ‘Supporting early career academics programme at Makerere University (SECA)’.

We will call you again soon, for a roundtable with policymakers and implementers at the level of commissioner and above – executive directors, permanent secretaries, ministers and speakers – for a direct conversation with them to map out how to influence policy and society going forward,” he said.

He urged the fellows to imagine what they would feel as their impact 20, 30 or 50 years from today.

UNIQUELY DESIGNED

SECA is a uniquely designed project implemented under the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, with financial support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. It is multidisciplinary and structured to have a senior researcher mentor, a postdoctoral fellow and a master’s student mentee per subproject.

From 102 research proposal applications, only 17 were competitively granted because of the financial envelope. The 17 belong in seven of the 10 constituent colleges of Makerere University. All the 17 projects reached a successful end, Covid-19 disruptions notwithstanding.

They were carried out from 2019 to 2022. Also the chair of the project implementation committee, Kakumba called the high success rate a feat and an initiation into research, mentorship, academics and global networking for the fellows, all of whom are recent doctorate graduates.

All the 17 (eight female, nine male) postdoctoral fellows did research under mentorship of senior researchers, attended international capacity training workshops and conferences, published articles in peer-reviewed journals, attended capacity training seminars at Makerere and supervised master’s students.

Prof Buyinza Mukadasi, academic registrar and the project coordinator, challenged the fellows, who belong to diverse colleges, to go out boldly and influence the world.

OUTCOMES AND BENEFITS

A number of outcomes of the project were mentioned, including master’s dissertations, policy briefs, conference presentations, further training, research paper publications, public disseminations, knowledge transfer, networks, travel and international exposure, and mentorship.

The project also had a component of refurbishing some research infrastructure and purchasing new equipment for laboratories, ICT and teaching units. Mukadasi noted that the project had contributed to Makerere’s capacity as a policy influencer, and the research mentorship culture at the university had grown stronger.

He reasoned that boosted mentorship culture and the improved research infrastructure has strengthened the university’s research management and leadership capacity and will enable the university to retain its high-quality human resource.

Mukadasi added that the project had increased the capacity for scientific communication of research outputs in publicly accessible writing. This was so because it offered a variety of capacity building opportunities such as academic writing, policy brief development, gender analysis in research and research communication.

He said some fellows travelled to international trainings, while others attended online courses to enhance their research and communication
capabilities. Some fellows used the funds to subscribe to national or international professional associations.

jmusinguzi@observer.ug

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