The Andrew W Mellon Foundation in New York has in principle committed to fund the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University to a tune of USD4 million over the next four years starting June 2017. The good news was affirmed by the Executive Vice President of the Foundation, Prof. Mariet Westermann, and the International Higher Education and Strategic Projects Director, Dr Saleem Badat, at a debriefing meeting with the Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, and the Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, held at Kampala Serena Hotel on 4th October, 2016.
Prof. Mariet Westermann and Dr Saleem Badat have been in Uganda on a three-day fact-finding mission to establish priority areas for funding in higher education with special reference to the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. The decision to support Universities in Africa beyond South Africa arose out of a two-year process of deliberations by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees on the need to foster development in Africa through higher education.
At Makerere University the team held meetings with the Vice Chancellor, the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, the Director Planning and Development, the Principal of CHUSS and wider representation of the College including Deans/Director, Heads of Department, members of staff and graduate students.
The team also met officials at the National Council for Higher Education and the Ministry of Education and Sports. At NCHE, officials led by the Deputy Executive Director, Rev.Can.Dr Alex Mugisha Kagume, briefed the team about the challenges of higher education in Uganda. They emphasized the need to fund graduate training at Makerere noting that the University is in better position to train academic staff for other institutions in the country.
The Commissioner for Higher Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports, Mr Robert Odok Oceng, reechoed the need to fund higher education at Makerere University. “When you invest in Makerere University, you have invested in East Africa,” he said. He informed the team that the government policy to emphasize the teaching and learning of sciences was not meant to suppress the humanities and social sciences but rather produce more technocrats for the country. He briefed the team about Government’s intended support to universities. The government plans to include scholarships for graduate training in the budget starting next financial year.
The report of the trip by Prof. Mariet Westermann and Dr Saleem Badat will inform the Foundation’s Board of Trustees’ decision-making on the actual priority areas for support in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University.
Established in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, it supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. The Foundation makes grants in five core programme areas: Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities; Arts and Cultural Heritage; Diversity; Scholarly Communications; and International Higher Education and Strategic Projects.