Story by Yasiri J. Kasango, Photos by Jimmy Siyasa
Uganda Christian University (UCU) has won the first ever virtual exhibition for higher education institutions in Uganda. The three-day virtual contest that took place in November was organised by the regulator of higher education in Uganda, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE).
A total of 50 institutions of higher learning – both private and public – took part in the exhibition that saw Mbarara University of Science and Technology, a government aided institution, emerging second.
The first-place win is the third straight one for UCU, having emerged the best exhibitor at the 2018 and 2019 fairs. Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no exhibition in 2020. This year’s fair has been virtual because the Ugandan government imposed a ban on large gatherings, limiting the number to 200, to reduce chances of spreading the coronavirus.
On October 22, Janet Museveni, Uganda’s First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, who was the chief guest at UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony, acknowledged the strides the university has made in virtual infrastructure, noting that the institution has a “robust online education program” and encouraged the facility to “share best practices with other institutions.”
In the November fair, institutions of higher learning exhibited their e-learning services that reflected the programs taught and their capacity to admit and facilitate learning for students. They also displayed the technological innovations to overcome the challenges caused by Covid-19.
UCU’s Communications Manager, Frank Obonyo, said that the university exhibited its capacity in conducting online admissions, pre-entry exams for students who want to pursue courses in law and medicine, virtual elections for student leaders, e-library, online classes and online exams.
“The judges found UCU’s virtual stall attractive and in line with the event’s theme, Innovation for Current and Emerging Challenges and Opportunities under the COVID-19,” Obonyo added.
The lead judge, Denis Omvia, said: “UCU displayed a stall that resonated well with the theme. UCU’s booth also showed a high level of organisation and preparation.”
Omvia added that the UCU booth had video uploads and it was easy to navigate and download content for anyone who visited the site. Among the visuals in the UCU display was a UCU Prospectus, developed by UCU Partners communications team members, Patty Huston-Holm and Constantine Odongo.
During the exhibition’s opening ceremony, Mrs. Museveni said the COVID-19 pandemic was a wakeup call for institutions to shift from face-to-face learning to online.
Christa K. Oluka, UCU’s Director of Admissions and Student Records, said the win was a vote of confidence by their regulator in the university’s level of innovation.
“It is special whenever your regulator recognises something good about the institution,” Oluka said, adding: “This motivates us to keep working harder and finding new and better ways of doing things.”
When universities were closed during the lockdown on education institutions as a result of Covid-19, UCU embraced online learning that saw the institution’s students continue with learning, uninterrupted.