In 2018, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in collaboration with various universities in Japan launched a JICA Development Studies Programme (JICA-DSP) with an aim of developing future leaders of developing countries. The programme offers an opportunity to study the respective academic fields at Japanese graduate schools, and Japanese studies that explore Japan’s modernization and development cooperation experiences in light of its historical and cultural background.
In order to expand the opportunities of such Japanese studies in partner countries, JICA has started a JICA Chair (JICA Programme for Japanese Studies) in collaboration with leading universities in partner countries including Uganda. Activities of the JICA Chair include short intensive lectures conducted by lecturers, dispatched from Japan as well as providing DVDs and relevant reference materials on Japan’s development experiences, in the fields of politics, economics, public administration and law.
The JICA Chair Programme has been introduced to many developing countries through the JICA overseas offices, and some leading universities in countries like Brazil, Bulgaria, Rwanda and South Africa.
On 11th November 2020, officials from the JICA Uganda Office, Mrs. Imamura Mariko (Representative JICA Uganda Office) and Ms. Mutabazi Zungu Judith (Programme Officer – Public Relations, Education and Health) visited Makerere University to introduce the JICA Chair Programme to the Department of History, Archaeology and Heritage Studies. At a meeting chaired by Dr Charlotte Karungi Mafumbo, Lecturer in the Department of History, Archaeology and Heritage Studies, the officials from JICA explained the importance of the programme and sought views on potential areas of collaboration.
Briefing the JICA officials on the programmes and curriculum review process in the Department of History, Archaeology and Heritage Studies, the staff led by the Acting Head, Dr Simon Peter Rutabajuka and Mr. Mwambutsya Ndebesa noted that the JICA Chair would be instrumental in reviving studies on the Japan-Africa relations. They explained that despite the massive business collaborations between the two countries, many Ugandans have not had an opportunity to learn about the Japanese culture. They explained that comparative studies between the two countries would largely boost the socio-economic development of Uganda. “Sharing experiences on how Japan managed to become a highly industrialized country without natural resources will largely guide Uganda’s development trajectory,” they noted.
Brainstorming on possible areas of collaborations, the staff proposed the establishment of a Japanese Centre that will oversee the teaching and learning of the Japanese culture and language, and coordinated staff and student exchange programmes. They also proposed to incorporate of a course on Japan-Africa relations in the new curriculum of the Department.
If introduced at Makerere University, the JICA Chair Programme will provide insights into Japan’s development history and ultimately enhance the collaboration between Makerere University and other universities participating in the JICA Chair Programme around the world.