The Swedish government has urged public universities to use their research findings outside their campuses to solve poverty and unemployment problems.
The call by Per Lindgarde, the Swedish ambassador to Uganda, came as his government reviewed the performance of its research collaboration with local public universities at Makerere University recently. The annual review was held under the theme, Multidisciplinary research for social transformation.
He said all research projects should be able to influence policies, as outlined in the National Development Programme II.
“I would like to emphasize the link between research and development, and that is where you researchers come in; as you research, let some local problems be resolved,” he said.
Lindgarde also challenged the Ugandan government to increase its funding to researchers.
“I would like to emphasize the link between research and development, and I hope the commitment of the government to university research and research training will also be reflected in the national budget with increased resources to research.”
Lindgarde said improving higher education is a complex challenge but essential for the country’s development. He explained that the Swedish strategy is based on funding postgraduate education, and research is one single effort.
In his remarks, Prof Buyinza Mukadasi, the director of Research and Graduate Training at Makerere, said that Ugandan researchers should be ready to provide answers to the challenges currently affecting the country.
“I challenge you [researchers] to generate solutions to poverty, unemployment, environmental concerns, poor health, ailing education and alternative energy sources,” he said. “We want you to make a positive contribution to changing lives.”
Formally opening the review, Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe acknowledged the Sweden–Uganda research partnership for its role in boosting research work in many universities.
“Over the last 16 years, the Swedish government has invested $73 million [about Shs 263bn] into Uganda’s graduate training and scientific environments of public universities, and Makerere University has been a big recipient,” he said.
“This has strengthened our capacity for teaching, learning, innovations and knowledge transfer.”
According to Nawangwe, during the 15 years, Makerere has seen 210 graduates obtain PhDs, 95 masters and 20 postdoctoral training.
The Swedish government is currently in research collaborations with Makerere, Kyambogo, Busitema, Gulu universities and Mbarara University of Science and Technology.