By Yasiri J. Kasango
Efforts by Uganda Christian University (UCU) to upgrade its eLearning platforms have gained momentum after Good Samaritans donated funds to assist.
UCU Partners has donated $50,000 (over sh170m) to the university to expand the platform. Mark Bartels, UCU Partners executive director, said the organization contributed the funds following a call by the university’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, for external funders to support the eLearning infrastructure.
“The idea to support eLearning came from UCU,” Bartels said. “In all of the support that UCU Partners offers to UCU, we seek to meet the most important needs of the university. When the Vice Chancellor communicated this need to us, we were glad that we had some funds available to donate to UCU towards achieving its goal.”
Bartels added that given the restrictions in Uganda due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the significant increase in eLearning needs, it was a natural place for UCU Partners to make a contribution.
“We know that these funds will make a difference for so many students, even after the Covid-19 restrictions are eased,” he said “We have been so impressed with the way UCU has led universities in Uganda in terms of eLearning.”
“It is always exciting to support a project that has shown promise with fewer resources, knowing that additional resources will make a big difference,” Bartels added.
At a recent virtual dialogue to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on education institutions, Mushengyezi advised government and schools to follow the online learning path that his institution has taken in order to reduce effects of Covid-related lockdowns on studies.
In March 2020, when the government of Uganda imposed a total lockdown on academic institutions in the country as precaution to limit the spread of Covid-19, UCU embraced eLearning and it is one of the few universities in Uganda teaching during the lockdown.
“We have invested in infrastructure of electronic learning and have something to share with other institutions,” Mushengyezi said at the dialogue, adding that such a move will not only keep students from lagging behind because of the pandemic, but also enable them to continue studying on their own time.
UCU Partners is a US-based non-profit charitable organization committed to raising public awareness about UCU by seeking material and spiritual support for students and other projects in the university.
The University ICT Services (UIS) technical manager, Rebecca Kangabe, said the contribution from UCU Partners will go a long way towards purchasing cooling equipment for the servers. “The funds will also go towards improving the internet service capacity of the university and the PS link from 1GB to 10GB,” she said.
The increase in the PS link is expected to boost the communication at UCU, making the internal emailing system faster and also simplifying the teaching on the Big Blue Button.
Kangabe commended UCU Partners for the generous contribution.