- August 1, 2022
- Posted by: Mariam Kasemiire
- Category: Uncategorized
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in Leadership and Training: The project funded by Michigan State University’s Alliance for African Partnership (AAP), under the Transforming Institutions Strategic Funding seeks to deepen knowledge and sensitivities on diversity and inclusion at the participating institutions.
The Second D&I Workshop Held at Makerere University
The Department of Extension and Innovation Studies, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University on 28th July 2022 held the second workshop on diversity and inclusion for management and staff from participating institutions. The activity held at the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility at Makerere University was graced by the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga. It featured expert presentations on integrating diversity and inclusion in teaching, training and community engagement; exploration of inclusive teaching and research; as well as cultivation and nurturing diverse and inclusive environments.
About the D&I Project
The Diversity and Inclusion in Leadership and Training project, funded by Michigan State University’s Alliance for African Partnership (AAP), under the Transforming Institutions Strategic Funding is implemented by Michigan Fellows Agribusiness Initiative (MFAI), Makerere University (Mak), and Michigan State University (MSU)-African Studies Centre. The project features a series of trainings aimed at deepening the knowledge and sensitivities of participating administrators, faculty, staff and youth leaders on matters of diversity and inclusion. The overarching objective of the project is to increase the representation of categories of people typically marginalized from leadership and decision-making processes such as women, people living with disabilities and youth from low income earning families. The project Principal Investigator (PI) at Makerere University is Prof. Nelson Turyahabwe, Head, Department of Extension and Innovation Studies at CAES.
Presentations at the workshop
Addressing participants at the workshop, the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, emphasized the importance of inclusivity in all University programmes. “Inclusivity is extremely important and starts with us as individuals. It is important for fulfilling the University mission and core values and each one of us, regardless of our shortcomings has a contribution to make. We must therefore be intentional on diversity and inclusion and must always practice fairness and justice in our pursuit for inclusivity,” she explained.
The Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Capacity and Needs Assessment at Makerere
Sharing the project findings on Makerere University, the PI, Prof. Nelson Turyahabwe indicated that some of the University policies do not outrightly address issues of diversity and inclusion. He called for periodical reviews to ensure diversity and inclusion are emphasized in all University programmes. According to the Institutional D&I Capacity and Needs Assessment conducted at Makerere, the University is an inclusive institution with policies and procedures that provide equal opportunity for all and generally lay foundation for diversity, equity and inclusion in the provision of services to the wider community without discrimination. However, integration of diversity, equity and inclusion in the University core mandate areas: teaching, research, and Knowledge Transfer and Partnerships is wanting, thus the need for training of persons responsible for these core functions. The Institutional D&I Capacity and Needs Assessment targeted to understand how the partner institutions take into account representation of categories of people that have typically been marginalized from leadership and decision-making processes as well as integration of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the mandate areas. The assessment was conducted by staff from the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies led by Prof. Turyahabwe (PI) and Dr. Losira Nasirumbi Sanya.
Preliminary findings/ Status of D&I at Makerere University
- Appointment and Recruitment of Staff policies are silent on D&I. ‘Equal Opportunity Employer’ is more of theory than practice
- Admission of students: All courses are open to all gender; Girls are given affirmative action of 1.5 at entry and 40% for females in STEM. There is a District quota system to address imbalances and cater for the less privileged/disadvantaged students from rural districts and also minority tribes. However, there is still low consideration of D&I in the admission of graduate students
- Curriculum Development: Many programmes are approved without gender and equity considerations. Appreciation of the importance of D&I is not shared across the board
- Teaching and Learning: Instructors/Lecturers to some extent use gender-responsive pedagogy. There are limited facilitates and support systems for special groups – Venues/buildings without lifts and ramp, no exams and examination scripts to cater for PWDs and no childcare facilities. Limited capacity – inadequate or no training on D&I
- Staff Development: The Staff Development Policy (SDP) is neutral to Diversity and Inclusion. However Administrative and Support staff ‘are not entitled’ in the SDP
- Research: Appreciation of the importance of gender dimension is not shared across the board. There is inadequate or no training in gender-responsive research methodology
- Implementation of Knowledge transfer partnerships (KTPs) is more on ad hoc basis
- Leadership: There is openness to diversity in the current Strategic Plan 2020-2030. However, women are still very few in senior positions and become even fewer the higher you go in the hierarchy
Integration of D&I in teaching, training and community engagements
Speaking to participants on the need to integrate diversity and inclusion in teaching, training and community engagement, the Founder, Africa Diversity and Inclusion Centre (ADIC), Mr Mubiru Ipolito pointed to unconscious bias as one of the major obstacles to nurturing inclusive environments. “We all have unconscious bias in our practices. If we are to create inclusive environments, we must learn to address our biases. Unconscious bias leads to prejudice,” he noted.
In her presentation titled “Exploration of Inclusive Teaching and Research”, Dr Euzobia Baine Mugisha, Director Gender Mainstreaming at Makerere University noted that research in higher education institutions was predominantly STEM and a few areas in social sciences. “The link between disciplines & how they affect development is not adequately explored,” she explained, noting that most of the funding goes to science research, a factor that largely undermines inclusivity and development of some units. She further explained that research at the University was still gender-blind despite the initiatives to incorporate gender analysis/perspectives.
Commenting on the small number of women in leadership positions at Makerere, Dr Euzobia called for periodical monitoring and evaluation of the University policies from an inclusive perspective. “We should exercise discretion in the implementation of policies. We also need to interrogate the concept of merit and how it applies in real life.” Dr Euzobia further appealed to the University managers to pick interest in the welfare of staff and students, saying the majority struggle with different challenges that undermine their performance. “We should not rash to judge and exclude them before establishing the root cause of poor performance,” she explained.
Cultivating and nurturing inclusive environments
Regarding the need to cultivate and nurture inclusive environments, Dr Gorretti Byomire, a Lecturer and Director Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Disability Resource & Learning Centre, called for modification of existing practices and policies to accommodate everyone. “Developing Institutional policies on Diversity Management and training University leadership, staff and students about diversity and inclusion fosters inclusivity at workplaces.
The discussion was moderated by Dr Losira Sanya, project member, also Lecturer in the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies, CAES, Makerere University.
First D&I training at Makerere: https://caes.mak.ac.ug/uncategorized/makerere-administrators-sensitized-on-significance-of-diversity-and-inclusion/