Speaker after speaker at this year’s Higher Education Exhibition chorused the need for improved access to cheap internet and funding for research and innovations
The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has asked the government to extend the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) to rural areas to benefit academic institutions doing research.
The appeal was made by the NCHE Ag. Executive Director, Dr Alex Kagume during the closure of the 11th Uganda Higher Education Exhibition that ran from March 21 to March 23 at Lugogo Show Ground.
Kagume first thanked the government for the existing infrastructure that benefits academic institutions before asking for more to be done including widening access to the internet, increasing funding for innovations and embracing partnerships.
He said: "Universities should be key government partners in advancing research and innovations. The success of higher education in transforming the economy comes from the ability to fund research and innovations."
NCHE's director of research, Nora Mulira also noted that whereas there is a need to mainstream ICTs in institutions of higher learning, lack of access to cheap internet was making the dream almost impossible.
"We are aware that many of our academic institutions cannot access internet yet it's a key learning tool," Mulira said. "Academic institutions should be given special treatment in accessing the NBI and the internet broadband at a cheaper cost."
This year's Higher Education Exhibition ran on the theme, "Mainstreaming Information and Communication Technology: The Exploration of Social Media for Higher Education Delivery and Management."
Speaker after speaker chorused the need for improved access to cheap internet and funding for research and innovations in academic institutions.
Prof. George Kirya, a renowned educationist who was the chairperson of the judges at the exhibition noted that research needs access to internet and funding and appealed to the government to undertake a deliberate effort to specifically assist academic institutions in the various innovations.
Uganda Christian University (UCU) won this year's exhibition; the university was the best exhibitor in the category of chattered and public universities while Kisubi University emerged the best among the provisionally licensed universities.
In his speech, the chief guest at the closure of the exhibition, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye revealed that cabinet last week endorsed the Research and Framework that will result into the creation of a research fund to aid research.
Tumwesigye noted that as the Minister in charge of Science, Technology and Innovations (MoSTI), he wants to see research gaining ground in universities.
"I have visited universities both in Russia and the UK of late and you can't imagine the level of research and innovations they are undertaking," he said.
Hundreds of students from different schools turned up for the event in which the participating institutions of higher learning showcased a number of innovations in agriculture, science and engineering technologies.
Rogers Sentongo, a senior six student of Margret College, Makerere said the exhibition had opened his eyes on the courses available for him to apply for at the universities this year.
UCU vice-chancellor Dr John Senyonyi said the exhibition is a great initiative because it helps students joining the universities to know what lies ahead of them.