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How a PhD qualification turns one into a global citizen

A PhD qualification turns one into a citizen of the world, because one transcends all the petty considerations, and they become certified researchers to change humanity through their respective field.

This was stated by Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, who was the host at the Annual Forum for Graduate Research and Policy Dialogue on April 25-26, 2024. Held at Yusuf Lule CTF auditorium, Makerere University under the theme, ‘Regional integration and development’, the function had state minister for Higher Education John Muyingo as the guest of honour.

The vice chancellor of Makerere gave a number of statistics to argue his assertion.

“In UK, with 67 million people, there are close to 800 real universities... China, which now has the same population as Africa, has more than 3,000 universities, meaning a university caters for 456,000 people... This is why China is moving forward very fast, not due to foreign direct investment which some people think raises a country high. Rather, it is due to the researches and the resultant innovations from the numerous master’s and PhDs, that create products and jobs, moving people out of poverty in few years.... The whole of Africa produces 6,000 PhDs every year, yet China produces 100,000 each year... The worst thing is that we are not investing in higher education to change this situation.”

Noting that Uganda has just above 2,500 PhDs, half of whom are based at Makerere University, Nawangwe said even those few we have, we are not making great use of them.

“Last year, Makerere celebrated for graduating 130 PhDs in one go. Yet Makerere could enroll over 2,000 PhD students, and be graduating 500 or 600 per year. We are not unlocking the immense potential that Makerere has.”

China, he noted, has moved very fast in changing the conditions of life and scientific progress of the majority in the past 30 years to threaten what used to be the only superpower, because of embracing the knowledge economy, which mainly means investing heavily in higher education.

“PhD per capita is the best measure for the investment in knowledge economy. The more PhD per capita you have, the faster you progress.”

Muyingo also launched the Research Information Management System (RIMS) which has started digitizing all aspects of research processes at the university – including enrolment, supervision, monitoring, assessment, decision-making, thesis management and defence, among others.

Prof Buyinza Mukadasa, the principal investigator of RIMS, said the system will raise the visibility of Makerere University, among many other benefits.

The forum, which was merged with the annual doctoral convention this year, and attended by civil society, industry captains and students from other universities, aims to bridge the gap between academia and industry. Over 70 research papers from all colleges were presented, while Makerere University Press presented the numerous research and publication opportunities they are ready to take on.

Dr William Tayeebwa announced that Makerere University Press is organizing a big book fair, involving all publishers in Uganda in an attempt to revive the reading culture in Uganda.


0 #1 Tim K 2024-05-10 16:32
For sure, if Makerere University alone enroll 2,000 students and produce only 130 annual best, there is a need to make a qualitative research on the problem.

China finance students at higher education and the supervisors of such students seem not to be a problem to their different studies as it is in Uganda. For record, you all remember how our own Dr Yusuf Sserunkuma sstruggled with MISR over research!

It kills the morale of the students and when one studies from outside Uganda, things are quite easy. But, the obstacles at Makerere university confirm that supervisors there, are afraid to create their replacements, that's why, it is hard for a PhD student's dissertation to get through and those who manage to go through, have a scary narrative of the research at MUK!

So, other enrolled students simply say, to hell which deeply entrench the would-be useful knowledge economy.
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0 #2 Sailors 2024-05-11 16:58
If you really want to know how countries like Japan and China have made large strides, one needs to study their histories well.

Possibly as well, interact with scholars there. I will take the liberty to help readers understand this part. Japan way back in the Meiji Period, that is before the start early 1900s sent many young men to Europe and the U.S to study there. These were funded by the government of the day.

These young men came back to Japan and imparted what they had learned to society. China perhaps learned that too. Before it became a major producing powerhouse, China sent many students to the likes of Japan to study especially in science courses in graduate schools.

The same can be said of countries in Europe and the U.S. Of course, some of these stayed in their countries of studies, but many returned home. These are the students who have made a significant impact on research and development in China over the years.
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0 #3 Sailors 2024-05-11 17:04
In addition, it should also be noted that countries like Japan, the U.S and others in Europe have over decades transferred know how and technology to China through their factories and plants there.

The “Made in China” for those who care to know has long meant a Japanese or American or European giant being behind that label.

A country cannot and will not develop only because of having many students graduating from graduate schools. Take the case of Nigeria. I thought I’d raise these two points to help people out there know the facts.

People shouldn’t get too carried away by these titles. They are good, but I think in a country like Uganda, the environment alone and government of the day aren’t really ready for a big shift. I feel the government is too preoccupied with politics.

And I beg to ask, show me a country that is too bogged down in politics that has made strides in developing into a developed country. That is the problem in Africa and in many developing countries.
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