H.E. Elin A�stebA� Johansen Applauds Longstanding Mak-UiB Collaboration

The Ambassador of Norway to Uganda H.E. Elin A�stebA� Johansen has highlighted the need to increase support towards development of the African Education System. This was at the 30years celebrations of the Makerere University (Mak)-University of Bergen (UiB) Collaboration that were held on 7th November 2019 at the CTF 2 Auditorium, Makerere University.

In 1988 Makerere University entered into a partnership with the University of Bergen to enhance academic activities through joint research, teaching, staff and students exchange programs, knowledge and information sharing. Over the years, the collaboration has successfully registered tremendous achievements in capacity building, knowledge and information generation and technological developments.

Speaking at the colorful event, the Ambassador said that supporting the education systems is an investment in economic and social development among countries. In his Address to Parliament on 26 April last year, the then Norwegian Minister of Development, Nikoli Astrup, said, 'Education is the foundation for all other development. It is the key to finding employment and to being able to lead an independent life with different options and opportunities.'

She urged academic institutions to align their objectives and academic curriculum to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education. H.E Elin A�stebA� Johansen highlighted the tremendous support the Norwegian government is extending to the Government of Uganda to improve higher learning and promote vocation and technical skills training.

In addition to basic education, we fully recognize the importance of higher education. Well trained citizens are needed in all areas of the economy in order for Uganda to develop and prosper. The Ugandan labor market needs to sustain industrial development, high quality tourism and a self-sustained and diversified agricultural sector, she said.

The Ambassador acknowledged the long-standing and successful collaboration between Makerere University and the University of Bergen. The nature and structure of the collaboration has over the years evolved from one-way scholarship programme to extensive partnership projects under the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) with multiple partners. She noted that the relationships developed through these collaborations have often continued long after the projects have ended, which is an indication of strong ties, friendships and commitment by all parties.

The Makerere-University of Bergen 30years celebration is proof of successful partnership and academic collaboration between Norway and Uganda. I am confident that this great partnership between Makerere University and the University of Bergen will continue for another 30 years, to the benefit of the young generations both in Uganda and Norway, she concluded.

The Pro-Rector University of Bergen, Prof. Margareth Hagen described the Mak-Bergen 30year collaboration as a historic relationship of intensive research and scientific competence. Throughout our history, the University of Bergen has always sought to collaborate with and befriend universities that are defined by their quality work and research. And, the collaboration between University of Bergen and Makerere University is an example of this, she said.

According to Prof. Hagen, Universities are institutions that not only keep historical records of societal development but also enable citizens to develop tools that address the great challenges of the time. Through creative and free thinking the institutions have engaged in research and innovate solutions for a better future.

She mentioned that Makerere University and University of Bergen are both pillars of peace and stability in their respective societies. She attributed this to their ability to plan, strategize and think in the long term.

We influence and learn from each other and that has indeed meant a lot for the many students who travel between our countries for their studies. Today we celebrate the benefits of the long-lasting partnerships, dialogue and open minded research, developed over the many years, she stated.

The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe in his remarks on the occasion recognized the late Prof. Endre Lillethun and his team who started the journey of the Makerere- University of Bergen Collaboration in the 1988.

He extended sincere appreciation to the Royal Norwegian Government for the support rendered to capacity building at Makerere University under the Norwegian Programme for Development, Research and Education (NUFU) phases I, II and III between 1991 and 2011. Prof. Nawangwe also acknowledged the ongoing support to collaborative efforts under the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED).

As a result of the Norwegian Government support, hundreds of students and staff have received funding towards their education development. For example, data shared from our Norwegian brothers and sisters shows that the University of Bergen alone has trained over 300 Masters and 150 PhDs for Uganda. This is by no means a small achievement, said the Vice Chancellor.

Similarly, under NORHED (2013 2020) Makerere University is involved in 11 projects with partner institutions in the North and South. These are in the thematic areas of; Pediatric Health, Anthropology, Aquatic and Environmental Health, Water Management, Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Weather Information Management. Other areas include; Health Informatics, Distance Education and Lifelong Learning, Interdisciplinary MPhil and PhD Studies among others, added Prof Nawangwe.

The celebrations were enriched by a keynote address on The role of inter institutional partnerships in attaining education for all and National Development delivered by Prof. Edward Kirumira. He currently serves as Director of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) and was the former Coordinator of the Mak-UiB programme at Makerere University.

Prof. Kirumira noted that the future of African Countries is heavily dependent on the future of African Universities. He further argued that the universities' future is based on successful cooperation in the increasingly competitive global arena. He therefore mentioned that universities' research should focus on training concerned scholars with a purpose to help community and not just advance themselves.

Discussing institutionary interdisciplinary and interdepartmental collaborations, Prof. Kirumira noted the need for universities to develop national curricula with long term goals. He also mentioned the need for universities to develop strong internal networks when he said, universities need to be networked from within. Even when they seek regional and international networks, it is the internal cohesion that comes across. You must therefore bond internally for you to take the university to greater heights.

Delivering her remarks, the Senior Advisor, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Jeanette Da Silva congratulated Mak and UiB upon the momentous 30year collaboration, noting that Education including Higher Education is one of the NORAD's funding priorities.

She also took the opportunity to announce that NORHED II will be launched in February 2020 as a framework to perpetuate North-South collaborations for more years to come. The Senior Advisor noted that funding is not only about capacity building but also capacity sharing and prayed that NORHED II will contribute to the formation of strong, mutually beneficial North-South relationships.

Other activities that preceded the celebrations included; a plenary session on the Role of the Youth in Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A Focus On SDG 4 Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promote Lifelong Learning Opportunities for All. It was organized by the Uganda-Norway Alumni Network (UGNAN) in partnership with the Mak-UiB collaboration Office and Norway UiB alumni.

During the Plenary session, participants discussed the SDG4 status in Uganda and the actions put in place to achieve the goal by 2030. Participants reflected on how the SDGs are calling for the transformation of ideas and how the country's education institutions need to be transformed in line with SDG 4 goal especially for the vulnerable groups such as girls and People With Disabilities (PWDs).

Source: MAKERERE University

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