Twenty-eight lecturers from seven institutions recently resolved to intensify research into challenges facing children across the country.
The resolution followed two weeks’ training at Uganda Christian University organised by the Centre for the Study of the African Child (AfriChild).
One trainer, Prof Fred Wabwire-Mangeni of Makerere University, said the lecturers were given tips on child-focused research methods; data analysis; scientific writing and knowledge translation.
“We targeted researchers who had previously been involved in this kind of research. It was felt that they needed more support to deal with gaps in their research,” he explained.
“Their task is to find ways of increasing their research output in this field.”
Mangeni acknowledged the lecturers’ concerns about lack of funding for this kind of academic work.
“We showed them some sources of funding and how to apply for them, but emphasized that they should not regard research as their sole source of income,” he added.
Dr Christine Oryema of Gulu University later said: “I intend to do research on the challenges facing access and retention of girls in sports in Amuru district,” she said.
“I particularly want to find out if we can come up with simple solutions to the problem; for instance, how to avail the girls with affordable sanitary towels and trainers, as well as mentorship programmes.”
Apart from UCU and Uganda Martyrs University-Nkozi, the others are public institutions, something that has been an issue in the past. Privately owned universities have long called for closer partnerships with public institutions in research projects where funding is more available.
The AfriChild Centre, an affiliate of Makerere’s college of humanities and social sciences, undertakes child-focused research, supports capacity building and advocates evidence-based policy to improve the well-being of the African child.
James Kaboggoza, an official from AfriChild, said: “We are focused on this kind of research as it affects 55% of the population… The child today is faced with many challenges ranging from exploitation, violence, ICT challenges, child labour, child sexual exploitation.
Lecturers from UCU, Makerere, Kyambogo, Muni, Uganda Martyrs and Gulu universities, plus Nsamizi Training Institute attended.