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Monday, February 1, 2016

Who is an Ideal University Graduate?

This was not published so I put it out here on my blog;

By Esther Nakkazi (October 22nd 2015)

The Academia-Public-Private Partnership Forum and Exhibition held in Uganda in October 2015 defined an ideal graduate as one who pays attention to detail in every field, someone with character and ability to think critically.

The graduate should also be dependable, have the ability to follow through, be punctual, work as a team, be self motivated and knowledgeable.

The Forum engaged many stakeholders concerned to map out ways to produce an ideal graduate. It was organised by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and the East African Business Council (EABC) under the theme ‘Developing the Ideal Graduate through Academia-Public-Private Partnership’

Good reading and writing skills, being self driven, hard working and focusing on the right things were also some of the key attributes for an ideal graduate cited.

Dr. Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) said the overriding quality of an ideal graduate should be character because failure to achieve it means wasted investment in education.

Character is the stable and distinctive qualities or ethical traits that determine a person’s response in any given situation regardless of the circumstances. “If a thief gets a PhD, he will only become a better thief,” said Dr. Sezibera.

He said experts have cited shortage of PhDs among the reasons why Africa is not developing but cautioned that although he considers this a fair comment, it may not be the top challenge why Africa is not developing.

“Switzerland does not have many PhDs per capita or many scientists, but it has the highest number of Nobel prizes and patents per capita. This is possible because ordinary people with vocational training to do the right thing instead of being celebrated for the papers they carry on their resumes,” said Sezibera.

The World Bank has called on the continent to train 10,000 PhDs in the next ten years. The Bank has granted a loan to the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) to be used to establish centres of excellence that train PhDs at Universities in Eastern and Southern African countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Kenya.

And the donor community is obsessed with more people in Africa to have PhDs because they will be well trained in doing research that can help African countries solve their own problems. To follow this through, Sweden has provided Uganda with $66 million used to train 325 masters and PhDs students.

Urban Anderson, the Swedish ambassador to Uganda said that all PhD students under its programme now have to study from both Uganda and Sweden to grant Ugandans intellectual autonomy, so that the solutions they generate are truly local.

The Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Makerere University award a joint PhD where a student’s PhD certificate has logos of both universities. Supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) 44 graduated PhD students have graduated, and more than 500 peer-reviewed articles been published, the majority with a Ugandan as the first author.

Professor Stefan Peterson of Karolinska Institutet said through the joint PhD programme started in 2001, Sweden has a unique possibility to contribute to a sustainable global development by supporting PhD education focusing on local problem issues in low income countries and global issues.

He said it makes it possible for PhD students to spend most of their time at the home university, travelling abroad for only 2-3 months per year, which has minimised brain drain from Uganda.

Peterson said all Ugandan PhD graduates have remained in the country and their research has addressed Ugandan health system priorities, in several cases resulting in policy and practice reform, even changing WHO/UNICEF policies, which affect all of Africa. 13 of the of the PhD students have also embarked on post doctoral training.

The PhD students research has helped solve local problems for instance two PhD students’ work have developed guidelines for Uganda Ministry of Health home visiting in pregnancy and early newborns.

“I am a proud graduate of this collaboration, and I am making my small contributions to Uganda and beyond,” said Dr. Peter Waiswa a public health doctor and graduate of the special joint PhD program who is a beneficiary of the PhD programme and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Makerere University in Uganda.

The Forum heard that students should get training and mentorship or transitional training with practical exposure.

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