The Uganda National NGO Forum has donated Shs12 million to six masters students to Conduct research on the NGO sector and the wider civil society.
The donation is part of the organization’s contribution to the Masters Fellowship Research Grant, one of the tenets of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Uganda National NGO Forum and the School of Social Sciences at Makerere University. The MoU is aimed at setting up a formal collaboration mechanism to among others increase the level of understanding and appreciation amongst students on the work and contribution of civil society to Uganda’s development.
Speaking at the handover ceremony held on Tuesday, 9th April at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Executive Director of the NGO Forum, Mr Richard Ssewakiryanga, said the research grant is part of the organization’s efforts to generate more literature on the civil society.
He said one of the organization’s strategies is to come up with an academic programme that fits into the NGO sector, noting that few students consciously choose to join the sector due to limited knowledge of its operations. “Most people end up in NGOs after failing to secure jobs in other sectors. This is largely attributed to lack of knowledge on NGO operations,” Ssewakiryanga said. “New employees to the sector often get surprised by the diversity of activities therein.”
Mr Sewakiryanga noted that one way of strengthening the NGO sector is by working with the University to help students get the feel of its operations. He urged the beneficiaries to seriously take on the research to create systematic knowledge on the sector. The beneficiaries are Kankya Clovis, Kalanzi William, Kisoboli Mugisa, Amongin Olive, Bakashaba Julius and Talemwa Phiona.
The Acting Deputy Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Prof. Edward Kirumira, expressed gratitude to the NGO Forum noting that the partnership is very important in linking the University with the community. “Most of our students are from the urban setting and as such are often reluctant to take on jobs in rural settings. This collaboration will help students acquaint themselves with NGO programmes as well as appreciate working with remote communities, mainly through internship placements,” he said, adding that the partnership would go a long way in enhancing programmes geared at improving livelihoods.
The Acting Principal, CHUSS, Prof. Oswald Ndoleriire, applauded the Management of the NGO Forum for the timely support. He underscored the need for Africans to seriously embrace research. “Africa is virgin as far as research is concerned but serious research is conducted by people outside the Continent.”
The MoU between the School of Social Sciences and the NGO Forum which resulted into the Civil Society – Academia Cooperation Programme was conceived out of the understanding that enhanced collaboration between civil society and the academia is critical in the development process.
It was also developed with the appreciation of the fact that the civil Society in Uganda, unlike other professional disciplines, is not deliberately ‘fed’ by a conscious academic programme for its development programming. “There isn’t any programme specifically tailored towards building a cadre of leadership for the non-profit sector in Uganda and many individuals who end up working for civil society do so, not because of a carefully thought process about the values and ethical underpinnings of the sector, but rather because of an opportunity for a job,” reads a statement by the two partners on the need for collaboration.
The collaboration will contribute to the development of a University curriculum that increases opportunities for students to develop appropriate solutions to challenges facing Uganda. It will also create a physical platform for sharing and joint action between Civil Society and the Academia.
Other areas of collaboration include an Internship Programme for students at either Bachelors or Masters Levels who are interested in practical exposure in civil society organizations across the country as well as seminars and debates on selected governance and development issues, to invoke critical thinking.
The Head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Dr S.K Ssimba, applauded the NGO Forum for the support, adding that the Forum helped secure internship placements for 100 students within the NGO sector in 2012.