Mak-RIF Ventures into Rebuilding Moral Infrastructure of the Youth in Uganda

Despite the wide lamentations about the youths’ fast deteriorating moral values and character, they are still perceived as the future leaders. Studies have shown that education and alone cannot lead to a successful human being without soft skills.

Championed by Makerere University, a multidisciplinary team of researchers sought to explore the possibility of rebuilding the moral infrastructure of the youth in Uganda by Nurturing a new generation for national transformation, through a program code-named, “BANG”.

BANG an acronym for Becoming A New Generation with morals, values and character started in 2017 at Makerere University whose overall goal was to supplement efforts of the university to fulfil her vision of becoming the leading institution for academic excellence and innovation in Africa.

Students acting how the BANG club comes in to help a students with so many problems

Hosted by Makerere University and Family Life Network (FLN), in 2019 the programme received support and has been funded by the Government of Uganda through the Research and Innovation Fund (RIF) as one of the models to address the deteriorating moral values and ethical conduct in the nation.

The BANG project focused on interrogating the moral values, character and ethical conduct necessary for academic excellence, social innovations, positive mindset, attitude and behavioral change essential for national transformation at different levels - individual, family, institutional.

It’s a holistic and pragmatic nationwide intervention whose overall goal is to rebuild the values, character and moral infrastructure of Uganda’s youth based on the proven values and principles of integrity, honesty and personal responsibility

The project titled: “Rebuilding the Moral Infrastructure of the Youth in Uganda: Nurturing a New Generation for National Transformation” focused on critical moral values and character that are necessary for academic excellence, social innovations, positive mindset, attitude and behavioral change essential for individual, family, institutional as well as national transformation .

On 22nd March, 2023, the project team led by Dr. Peace Musiimenta from the School of Women and Gender Studies and Family Life Network  organized  a dissemination workshop for the BANG program where the youth showcased  and shared their experiences through drama and personal testimonies,  on what BANG has been doing in Makerere and other Universities .

Dr. Peace Musiimenta the Project PI

Students testified how BANG clubs have supported them overcome identity crises, family related socio- cultural and economic crises, peer pressure and influence, depression arising from  early pregnancies , alcoholism, molestation, self-rejection and low esteem among others.

The project team from Makerere University comprised Dr. Peace Musiimenta (PI), School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University, Dr. Brenda Boonabaana (Co-PI), Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism, Makerere University and Dr. Amos Ochieng (Researcher), Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism, Makerere University. The partnership involved Eng. Stephen Langa and Mr. Mark Langa from  Family Life Network, Dr. Ivan Kiiza, Twinomuhwezi from Uganda Management Institute and Ms. Jasper Ankunda from the  Plenteous Research Group Ltd.

“The major purpose of BANG Club is to create a cadre of young people sensitized and empowered to acquire values, morals, character and life skills such as self-control, honesty, financial literacy, hard work, integrity, patriotism, positive attitude and mindset towards life, -personal and social responsibility”.

“The  BANG program has been involved in sensitization talks, moral values and character training sessions, peer counseling and mentorship, formation of the BANG clubs in Universities and Secondary Schools, and training the Club Leaders, formation and training dance and drama groups” The PI, Dr. Peace Musiimenta explained

Presiding over the dissemination workshop the Chairperson Mak-RIF Prof. Fred Masagazi –Musaazi commended the study team for conducting an impactful study and being able to account within the project timelines.

Prof. Fred Masagazi Musaazi making his opening remarks

He said the Grants Management Committee issues open calls on an annual basis to members of staff and those eligible submit ideas in form of research and innovation proposals. The proposals submitted are vetted by a pool of professionals   from Makerere university, East Africa and elsewhere in the world, who try to understand if the proposals fit within the objectives of the RIF.

Prof. Masagazi explained that the proposals go through a rigorous process to come up with the best and that the  unit depends on the marks and recommendations given by the vetters  to award the grants.

“We are witnessing today an idea which was   developed by team led by Dr. Musimenta- an idea which was evaluated the best and it was found worth funding. Vetting is based on the quality of one’s submission and how it communicates way to the objectives of the Research and Innovations Fund”. He added

The  unit  he said, has themes that were generated by stakeholders where vetted  proposals are attached. The vetters he said look for creativity and innovativeness and, ideas that are likely to cause an impact on the socio- economic transformation of Ugandans, and those that are multidisciplinary in nature

“We funded this idea because it is very important and has the capacity to transform society. We are training the youth to be great leaders, it is about leadership skills, understanding each other, it is about training youth   who can interact, create friendship because they are the future leaders who are going to help us in life”, Prof. Masagazi noted.

He commended universities and secondary schools and various partners who participated in the project for their valuable input.

The project coordinator –BANG Family Life Network, Eng. Stephen Langa emphasized that building the human values, morals and characters comes before building anything else.

Eng. Stephen Langa speaking during the workshop

“Before you build your life, before you build your marriage, your government and army, you need values, morals and character and that is the bedrock of the BANG programme. Our Vision is building a new generation of youth with values, morals and character who will make Uganda a great nation”. Eng. Langa said.

Langa explained that studies have shown that all academics and professional experiences contributes to only 15% of a successful being and the staggering 85% is contributed by the individual character and the ability to relay and get along with other people.

The BANG, he said is coming along the academic institution and helping to rebuild the 85% what is referred to as the soft skills.

“Politics without character, science without humanity are actually not only useless, but, harmful. Education will only be useful if it can help our people to be more humane and so we cannot overemphasize the need for having values, morals and character”, Langa stressed.

The mission of the BANG according to  Eng. Langa is equipping and empowering the youth with principles based on truth and challenging them to develop values, morals and characters that will enable them prepare for and build strong families, become autonomous, innovative and productive, responsible, economically stable and  transformational leaders who will make Uganda a better place to live in and a great nation irrespective of sex, race, ethnic, political inclination, social or religious background.

The detailed story of the Bang is herewith attached.

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