New education dean: ‘I see it as a calling from God’

By Irene Best Nyapendi
When Mary Teophira Kagoire Ocheng applied to pursue a course at Makerere University in Uganda, her score in the national exams earned her the Bachelor of Education course toward a career that was not in her vision. Thus, she initially rejected the offer. However, her contemporaries prevailed upon her, and eventually convinced her to take up the course. 

It is the fruits of that course that Kagoire has been benefiting from for more than 30 years. The latest in her line of achievements is the August 2022 appointment to the position of the Dean, School of Education, at Uganda Christian University (UCU). 

“I’m excited to be the dean,” Kagoire said. “I see it as a calling from God to do His will.”

She considers her appointment as a great opportunity to contribute to the growth of the School of Education and she plans to do this by transforming the school into an icon of student recruitment, enhancing the quality of teachers being trained, and improving research among the faculty. 

“As a school, our teaching focuses on the learner, and we follow it up with a lot of learner support in terms of using rich, student-centered approaches,” Kagoire explained.

Kagoire said she sees her new position of Dean as a calling from God.
Kagoire said she sees her new position of Dean as a calling from God.

She takes over office from the Rev. Canon. Assoc. Prof. Nassaka Olivia Bbanja who was recently appointed Vice Chancellor of Ndejje University, also founded by the Anglican Church in Uganda. Faith Musinguzi replaces Kagoire as UCU’s new Head of the Department of Education. 

Before assuming the position of dean, Kagoire was the Head of Department in the School of Education and a coordinator of the PhD in Education Administration program. She also served as an academic mentor to PhD students. She praises UCU’s e-learning services, noting that she wants to see the university become an e-campus that is self-sufficient.

She holds the view that students learn on the job as they are sent out to practice what they are taught, noting that being a teacher enables one to gain confidence because of the constant interaction with the learners. 

UCU is uniquely poised compared to other universities, Kagoire says. “The working environment at the institution is conducive, unlike the case in other universities, and the students are creative and empowered.”

During her free time, Kagoire plays golf. In fact, she served as lady captain at the Uganda Golf Club from 2016 to 2017. 

The 61-year-old, who recently retired from Makerere University, after 27 years of service, joined UCU in 2018. She retired from Makerere University at the position of senior lecturer.

“As soon as I joined UCU, I was assigned to facilitate the curriculum review, and it gave me pride as a curriculum specialist to see all the faculties review their curriculum and have it accredited by the National Council for Higher Education within a short time,” said Kagoire, who earned her master’s in education, specializing in curriculum studies and PhD from Makerere University in 1991and 2003, respectively.

Kagoire’s replacement, Musinguzi, said she is pleased with the former’s style of leadership. “Dr. Kagoire is so approachable, kind and hardworking, and she doesn’t sleep over work; it has to be done immediately and she makes sure she doesn’t leave others behind.”

Jonathan Okello, a student leader in the School of Education, says Dr. Kagoire has already started meeting his expectations by helping students who are missing their marks.  “I also hope she can at least help students who are unable to sit for exams because of tuition by sourcing scholarships,” he said.