Makerere implements the New ARI PhD Program
Makerere University Department of Extension and Innovation studies has finally implemented the new regional PhD program in Agricultural and Rural Innovation (ARI).
The program was developed by three East African Universities namely; Makerere University Uganda, Egerton University Kenya, Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzanian in collaboration with Wageningen University in Netherlands and Montpellier SupAgro in France. The project was funded by the European Union ACP – EDULINK for Higher Education program at a cost of 500,000 Euros.
The program was launched in May 2012, at a colourful ceremony held at Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo. In the September- October intake 2012, the department of extension recorded its first intake of 20 students out of the 30 that had applied.
“We have 19 Ugandans and one student from Malawi. They come from different organisations like NARO, Ministry of Agriculture, Private consultancies and teachers and of these, there are two Members of Parliament” a lecturer, Dr. Florence Kyazze said.
ARI Pioneer class posing or a photo at the School of Agricultural Sciences
Dr Kyazze said, the program is run on a modular system and teaching conducted from Monday to Wednesday to give students time to conduct their private work during the rest of the days.
“The modular system is efficient because the lecture is available from Monday to Wednesday, the attendance list is issued by the lecturer and students for quality assurance and bonus marks for attendance given as an incentive. This first semester we are offering five courses in a modular form for example in October we have finished two core courses and examined it, in November two, lecturers offered two other courses and exams and we finish in December.”
This course structure is not the original design as earlier planned by the regional universities where joint universities were supposed to conduct course work in a central place. However the teaching materials were already developed under the regional program and enriched to suit the different needs of the individual universities.
ARI students inside the lecturer room
Dr. Kyazze also said besides encouraging free student - lecturer interaction, the department is promoting experiential learning where students are given materials to do research and present for the mutual benefit .
“Students should be treated as colleagues to make them feel at home through good interaction for example we have breakfast together, we have graduate coordinators to assist in monitoring the progress and students are encouraged to express their grievances. Students were also assigned supervisors early to develop that relationship to appreciate their research areas while lecturers serve as mentors and counsellors” Dr. Kyazze added.
She however said limited space for accommodation, student drop out arising from inability to raise fees, field based courses requiring transport and accommodation and sustaining motivation were key anticipated challenges.
A student on ARI pays six million shillings per semester which may not be easy for an average Ugandan to raise. The program is to be popularised to attract international students and to maintain the enrolment at 10 students.
Head Department of Extensions and Innovation Studies Dr. Paul Kibwika said the program will produce unique kind of PhD graduates who are able to steer stakeholders and communities to accelerate development using innovations systems approach and also build capacities for the three universities to offer this specialized training in the region.
Back to Books, MP Sebuliba Mutumba (2nd) attending lectures
“We want our students to sit and discuss with ministries NGOs, farmer organizations to come up with the real problems they are facing and then see what the research can contribute to in addressing those problems. So they will have to contribute to academic and contribute to solving existing problems,” He added.
Dr. Kibwika explained that new kind of expertise will be able to work with multiple actors to develop agriculture and the rural sector by working with people in marketing, value addition, input, processing which is a new approach being promoted by all governments in African states whose economy rely on agriculture.
Other students during the lecture