UCU staff speak out on working during the lockdown

Compiled by Yasiri J Kasango and Israel Kisakye
On June 18, 2021, the government of Uganda imposed a second covid-related lockdown that resulted in the closure of in-person classes for all academic institutions in the country. Uganda Christian University (UCU) immediately shifted added emphasis to online classes. The University is one of the few higher education institutions in Uganda that have put increased priority on developing and expanding eLearning for sustainability during the lockdown that could end or be extended after July. As the learners returned to their homes to replace blended learning with only online classes, the University retained a skeleton of staff on campus to steer it. Working during the lockdown has had opportunities and challenges. These comments from some staff members designated to report to work in-person represent a snapshot of what it is like on the UCU Mukono campus during this latest lockdown at UCU.  

David Mugawe-Deputy Vice-Chancellor Finance and Administration
This Covid-19 period has been challenging to us as an institution. We depend solely on students’ tuition fees to run the University. The lockdown affected our income flow to the extent that we still experience suspended staff contracts.  However, when government closed academic institutions, we seamlessly switched to more virtual classes and lately we are experiencing less complaints about online studying. 

Bridget Mugasira K. Mugume-Director Student Affairs
I have been working on student issues online and even serving the few who just walk into my office. Online studies have given us a chance to engage a little more with a lot of students online.

Frank Obonyo-Communication and Marketing Manager
I have to walk to work every day since the government restricted public transport during the lockdown.  This is blessing in disguise since I do exercise while walking. The exercises are good for our health.

Jeremy Waiswa-Head of Department Development Studies
I sometimes fail to walk to work which means I must incur internet costs to work from home. But this second lockdown found UCU better prepared for the online classes with the help of the Alpha Management Information System MIS and Moodle eLearning platforms. Classes are going on well. 

Walter Washika-Financial Aid Manager
Initially, I walked about 8kms (5 miles) every day to work. I later bought a bicycle that has made life a little easier. This lockdown has taught me to spend money carefully. I spend on what is necessary. The university has got better internet experience and e-library resources at the library.

Peter Mugume-Lecturer in the Department of Literature and Languages
I cycle 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) every day to the University to work. I leave the University early to beat the curfew. But the lockdown has affected communication between students and teachers. Some students still do not have access to online classes because of the poor internet connection.

Ochan Bernard-Lecturer of writing and study skills
The second lockdown has brought in a new way of life. This lockdown has presented new opportunities for well-prepared people. But the online study also has come with a level of academic dishonesty among both students and lecturers.