Makerere University champions the move to an education system for social change. 

On March 30th, 2023, Makerere University organized a symposium on the role of universities in shaping national development. The symposium was held at the Conference Hall Department of Food Science & Technology at Makerere University under the theme, “Discussing the role of Universities in responding to Africa’s problems and development needs.”

The symposium aimed to explore meaningful ways in which universities and institutions of higher learning could contribute to national development. It brought together all institutions of higher learning, renowned academicians and researchers, development partners, government institutions, private sector firms, industrialists, research organizations, and others.

A group photo of attending Vice-chancellors, key delegates, the Makerere leadership and H.E Jessica Alupo.

The symposium was a four-hour event held at the Conference Hall Department of Food Science & Technology Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. The guest of honour was H.E Yoweri Tibuhabura Museveni, whose address was delivered by the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda H.E Jessica Rose Epel Alupo. The keynote speaker, Professor Vincent Anigbogu, was an accomplished academic, passionate about national transformation. He had one hour to unpack the thematic topic.

Mrs Lorna Magara: Chairperson University Council.

Her main points at the symposium focused on the progress of a ten-year strategic plan and the implementation of the Third National Development Plan (NDPIII). Makerere University is committed to supporting the government’s efforts to develop Uganda’s knowledge economy and to conduct research that contributes to solving societal challenges. 

She paid gratitude to the government for paying academic staff competitive salaries and supporting the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund. She noted that the university has taken a strategic decision to use some of the funding to support PhD students’ fieldwork and thesis writing, but the ultimate wish is to have a scholarship or loan scheme dedicated to graduate students. This is considered a priority for the country, given the exploding population and the urgent need for solutions to feed and provide meaningful employment for youth.

Mrs Lorna Magara as she welcomes H.E Jessica Alupo to the Makerere Symposium

 Professor Barnabas Nawangwe: Vice Chancellor Makerere University.

In his remarks, the Vice-chancellor noted that Makerere University has positioned itself as a thought leader in knowledge generation for societal transformation and development. 

He highlighted the university’s four overarching goals, which are to be a research-led university responding to national, regional, and global development challenges; to have innovations in teaching and learning that responded to the changing environment; to be an engaged university with enhanced partnerships with industry, the community, and international institutions; and to be a professionally governed institution. 

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as he gives his remarks at the Makerere Symposium.  

Professor Vincent Anigbogu; Director General, Institute of National Transformation, Lagos Nigeria.

His wide discussion hinted at the evolution of tertiary education globally, from the medieval era to the current Third Generation University model, and the need for African education systems to reform in response to emerging threats and opportunities. 

The First-Generation University model focused on preserving traditional beliefs and had little application of knowledge. In the modern era, universities such as Stanford, MIT, and the University of Cambridge have become models to follow. The speaker emphasized the need for pragmatic and relevant reformation of African education systems to prepare a new breed of Africans to address emerging challenges and opportunities.

Prof. Vincent Anigbogu delivered his keynote Address at the Symposium.

The Second-Generation University (2GU) model emerged in the 15th century and was characterized by a focus on humanism and the value of the individual, as well as a shift towards objective and reproducible experimentation methods. This led to the establishment of applied sciences and the decline of the Church’s influence over universities. The University of Berlin, founded by Wilhelm von Humboldt, represents an early example of the 2GU model, which emphasized research carried out using modern methods of rationality, experimentation, argumentation, and transparency. Education became integrated with research, and universities became organized into monodisciplinary faculties.

He also discussed the evolution of universities from the traditional 2GU model, where education and research were the primary focus, to the modern 3GU model which emphasizes education for social change and the commercialization of knowledge. The article cites the examples of Humboldt universities in Germany and the Cambridge Phenomenon in the UK to illustrate the transformation of universities into hubs of research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The 3GU model prioritizes collaboration with industries and government to generate revenue and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem. The article suggests that African universities should adopt the 3GU model to respond to Africa’s problems and development needs.

From the left: Mr & Mrs Vincent Anigbogu and Mr & Mrs James Magara listening to the University Secretary, Mr Yusuf Kiranda. 

The speaker recognized Makerere University’s role in the emergence of Kiira Motors Corporation and appreciates the President of Uganda’s support for innovation and creativity. The speaker emphasized the importance of education for sustainable development (ESD) and outlined the key characteristics of ESD, which seeks to develop the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and behaviours required to create a sustainable world. The speaker concluded by suggesting that African universities must help Africa innovate its way out of its challenges and maximize its opportunities.

Honourable Janet Kataaha Museveni: First Lady & Minister of Education & Sports was represented by Hon. John Chrysestom Muyingo.

Hon. John Muyingo echoed, the words of the Minister of Education & Sports saying, “With a few years left to the completion of the 3rd National Development Plan 2024/25, I call upon all Universities to take a keen interest in the interventions that have been prioritised to achieve its six key objectives.”

Hon. John Chrysestom Muyingo representing Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni at the Makerere Symposium. 

He noted that the Government is committed to continuously supporting initiatives aligned with National Priorities, in this regard Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund and its annual Ug Shs 30 Billion budget allocation are expected to not only come up with phenomenon innovations but also to take next step to commercialize these outputs into enterprises that employ the growing population. 

She tasked the Universities to strengthen their capacity for development planning by supporting the Ministry of Local Government and Public Service through collaboration to strengthen the planning and development function at the Parish level and bring service delivery closer to the people as we implement the Parish Development Model (PDM). 

His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni: President of the Republic of Uganda was represented by H.E Jessica Alupo. 

He who laughs last laughs best, the president’s input was rich in history and quotes from our local languages, and his words were well presented by Vice President H.E Jessica Rose Epel Alupo who made sure not to forget his tone and humour too.

H.E Jessica Alupo representing H.E Yoweri Tibuhabura Museveni.

The President emphasized the need for the education system to understand how societies behaved when faced with external actors and for a focus on manufacturing and expanding services to move from a raw material-based economy to an integrated, independent, and self-sustaining national economy. The speaker also criticized the miseducation of people in Africa, particularly in history and political science. 

H.E Tibuhabura Museveni suggests six elements that he thinks should be incorporated into the new education system in Uganda, including studying pre-colonial African societies, shifting towards manufacturing and expanding the money economy and services sectors, and addressing the attack on the African identity. The speaker also highlighted the importance of global exposure and understanding the history of the world, including how social-economic metamorphosis took place.

From the left: Hon. John Muyingo, H.E Jessica Alupo, Mrs Lorna Magara, Rt. Hon. Daniel Kidega and Prof. Vincent Anigbogu

He reminded us of the backwardness of “okukorera ekidda kyonka” which was characterized as the economy of the 3Cs and 3Ts. The 3Cs were Coffee, Copper and Cotton. The 3Ts were Tobacco, Tea and Tourism. The census of 1969 was showing that only 4% of the homesteads, were in the money economy. The 3Cs and the 3Ts were affecting only 4%.

He also went ahead to interest the different University leadership including professors and lecturers why they are not making “enduuru” or bothered on issues concerning unfair global markets as he continues to through more light on the global value of coffee as it is now four hundred sixty billion dollars but all the coffee producing countries are getting US$ 25 billion out of the US$ 460 billion and Africa is only getting US$ 2.5 billion; out of that, Uganda takes US$ 800 million and it is one of the biggest producers of coffee in Africa.

Panel discussion.

The discussion was followed by a panel session under the theme “How Universities are Contributing to Uganda’s Development Agenda,” moderated by Prof. Sam Obwoya, Deputy Chairperson of, the National Planning Authority

A photo of the panel discussion at the Makerere Symposium on National Development. From the right: Prof, Sam Obwoya, Mrs. Dorothy Kisaka, Prof. Joy Kwesiga, Prof. Umar Kakumba, Prof. John Kitayimbwa and Dr. James Magara.

The panel discussion was joined by three representatives from public Universities, namely; Prof. Umar Kakumba, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, of Makerere University, Prof. John Kitayimbwa, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (A&) of Uganda Christian University, Prof. Joy Constance Kwesiga, Vice Chancellor of Kabale University, and Ms Dorothy Kisaka, Executive Director, Kampala Capital City Authority. 


Get Involved

Are you a Member of Staff, Student Body, Alumni, General Public, or Well-wisher? Find out how you can get involved here, or share your Makerere experience with us. 

Related Stories