Jeanette da Silva, the Senior Advisor for Research, Innovation and Higher Education at the Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD) commissioned a fully-fledged multimedia computer laboratory at the Department of Journalism and Communication (DJC), College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Makerere University on 4th April 2017.
The laboratory has 32 computers, loaded with multimedia software, a giant projector screen and well-sectioned carrels to ensure privacy of users. The equipment and related works in the laboratory is valued at USD 69,000 (UGX 245 million) secured with funding from NORAD under a five-year Norwegian Program for Capacity Building in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) project. Under this project, the Department also procured an assortment of equipment including audio recorders, projectors, laptops, still and video cameras.
“Education, especially higher education is a priority under the NORHED programme and we consider Makerere University a very strong partner. It is key to have access to updated equipment. We strengthen the quality of study programmes by supporting Staff capacity building and small scale infrastructure. I commend DJC for using part of the NORHED funding to improve this laboratory and for other equipment to benefit more users. We look forward to continuing the collaboration,” da Silva said. Two visiting professors, Helge Ronning and Kristin Skare Orgeret who represented Oslo and Akerhus University College, the Norwegian partner to the DJC, were at the launch too.
The Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward Kirumira, observed that the Norwegian government has supported Makerere University with 13 projects, four of them under CHUSS. He challenged students to make maximum use of the laboratory. “I see the laboratory as bringing journalism students and the industry to work together more. I would like to see more visiting lecturers from the industry so that the lab is a more useful space,” he advised. The Principal further challenged the staff to upgrade their skills in order to fully utilise the laboratory.
The Acting Dean School of Languages, Literature and Communication, Assoc. Prof. Edith Natukunda-Togboa was optimistic about the impact the laboratory will have. “Journalism and Communication is a flagship programme that allows us to go places in the region. We are happy to domesticate the technology. Let us use the lab to make our programmes multi-cultural,” she advised.
The Chair Department of Journalism and Communication, Dr. William Tayeebwa, was grateful for the timely support under the NORHED project. “We now train multimedia journalists who should be able to join the industry with multiple skills and this laboratory will help us achieve this faster. With the increasing number of students, we will definitely need more support but are sincerely grateful for this support under the NORHED project,” he said.
“This five-year project was launched in 2013 and is worth three million US dollars. It has helped in the training of doctoral and masters students in Uganda, Nepal and South Sudan. It has also helped in funding research with the first major output of the project being a book titled Journalism in Conflict and Post-Conflict Conditions-Worldwide Perspectives published by Nordicom in 2016, edited by Dr. Tayeebwa and Prof. Kristin Skare Orgeret,” he added.
The event was also attended by other members of Staff from DJC including Prof. Goretti Nassanga, Dr. Aisha Nakiwala, Charlotte Ntulume, Marion Alina and Tonny Luggya. A number of students, especially fourth year students were in attendance and showcased their multimedia skills working on some projects, particularly audio and video productions.