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Your mail: Makerere online teaching is not favourable

Since the 15 million learners were told to go back home as one of the lockdown measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Uganda, learning has never been the same since last year.

In the meantime, some private schools have already sold their premises due to the biting loans accruing from the cost of maintenance. Government and academic institutions at all levels have crafted and adopted measures, including the most peculiar one, to put learners back to class.

Makerere University, in an attempt to bring back the students in the lecture room, instituted an online platform, commonly referred to as MUELE to conduct classes, admissions, and examinations - an innovation that appeared too good to be true given the dynamics of our leaning.

Irrefutably, academic institutions like Makerere must adapt to the fast ever-changing global trends for students to compete on merit in the most diverse environment at a global stage. However, an innovation as much it is informed by insufficiency must meet the fundamental procedures of its applicability.

In the case of Makerere’s MUELE online system, the innovator must have missed a lot of critical information, especially at the stage of environmental scanning. And this is one of the things the innovator didn’t envisage during implementation.

The larger populations of university students and lecturers are not proficient in the use of modern technology, especially computers, in examinations. There are many undergraduates who have never typed a two-page document.

It is foolhardy to expect them to sit and type eight pages in an examination room. Truthfully, to many lecturers, online teaching has put them in yet another unfamiliar and awkward territory.

A recent study by the telecom regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), put the cost of acquiring one gigabyte of the internet in Uganda at $2.67(Shs 9,819). Compared to Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda, Uganda’s is the highest.

In these times when families are struggling to put food on the table, the cost of the internet is seen as a luxury, especially after one has gone through the hustle of paying full tuition.  

Most of the internet service providers have justifiably concentrated much of their connection in the urban areas. In this whole unresolved matter, one asks himself where is the Makerere University Academic Staff Association - the famous advocate for academic affairs at the Ivory tower?

Where is the university guild leadership’s voice in the ongoing unfavorable treatment of students especially during examinations? Is there a reason why the two influential bodies at Makerere University have deliberately declined to oppose the administration?

Arthur Tumwesigye,
arthurtumwesigye87@gmail.com

EACOP-affected people need help

Kyotera is one of the districts where government, through TotalEnergies, is acquiring land for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.

Land for the EACOP project is being acquired from over 3,000 households with over 20,631 people in ten districts. These are huge numbers. In Kyotera, the number of affected households is 524. Of these, 511 are losing land they use to grow crops and support their families while 13 will be displaced.

The 13 households are losing their houses and will have new houses built for them by government through TotalEnergies.

There are disputes already as regards the types and sizes of houses that TotalEnergies wants to build!

Recently, through its sub-contractors, TotalEnergies, carried out what it called the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) disclosure exercise. During the exercise, the persons whose land and other property is being acquired for the EACOP were shown the compensation that is due to them.

Unfortunately, the exercise was characterised by several flaws. The first was that the assessment forms that the affected landowners or users were given were in English. The majority of the affected people do not speak English. Community-based monitors or other trusted people who do so and could have assisted the affected people to interpret the forms were not allowed to support the affected people.

Many have reported that they signed forms whose contents they do not understand. When EACOP-affected people or human rights defenders complain about the project, they are intimidated by subcontractors and security agencies. This kind of intimidation must stop.

Rodgers Ntumwa & Herman Bbale,
Kyotera.

Embrace use of cooking gas cylinders to reduce on environmental destruction

The government of Uganda scrapped off the Value Added tax on cooking gas with the aim of driving clean energy affordability and sustainability.  

This made it easy and cheap for average Ugandans to use these gas cylinders for domestic use. Many companies in Uganda supply gas cylinders. Unfortunately, few people living in urban centers use these cylinders for cooking. Many continue to use charcoal, which has resulted into increased deforestation.

The price of cylinder gas compares well with that of charcoal. Cooking gas is relatively safe for both human usage and is environmentally-friendly. The increasing rate of deforestation in Uganda is being attributed to the increasing use of charcoal and firewood both in urban centers and rural areas.

Most people are not aware of these cooking gas cylinders and they have no idea on how they can be used. This has made them to continue using biomass for cooking and industrial use.

The government of Uganda, through the ministry of Energy, has to carry out sensitization and spread awareness about the use of gas cylinders and extend gas services to remote areas to increase use of clean energy. Gas cylinders should be provided in remote areas at affordable prices and gas-filling stations should be near the people for easy refill.

The government should also work with gas-supplying companies to provide these cylinders at affordable prices and allow the citizens to pay for them at reduced fees.

Gerald Barekye,
geraldbarekye@gmail.com

Empower women on clean energy

Across the world, women play critical roles in relation to their natural environment. They depend mostly on available natural resources for food, fuel and shelter.

Women can be particularly vulnerable to the environment changes or threats and at the same time can help to protect and flourish the environment. Women need to first be educated about the dangers of environmental destruction because they may be ignorant about the environment.

The government should facilitate women-based organizations, which may help in public sensitization about clean energy. Clean energy is much of renewable resources, which are of a great importance not only to the preservation of the environment but also human life.

Renewable resources generate energy, which is pollution-free. Clean energy may be a source of income to people through jobs that may be created in installation among others.

Stephen Ahereza,
steveahereza98@gmail.com


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