Makerere University and Stanbic Bank Uganda on Tuesday 15th February, 2022 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at supporting blended learning by enabling staff and students acquire laptops on hire purchase basis. The MoU was signed on behalf of Makerere and Stanbic by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and CEO Anne Juuko respectively. The Director Legal Affairs-Mr. Javason Kamugisha and Head Legal Department-Candy Okoboi signed as witnesses on behalf of Makerere and Stanbic correspondingly.
Prof. Nawangwe in his welcome remarks to the Stanbic CEO and her team shared that the Makerere University Council in October 2015 approved the Open, Distance and eLearning Policy, which paved the way for several programmes to be offered fully online. He added that the COVID-19 pandemic therefore did not find the University fully unprepared but enabled the institution to make improvements to its eLearning Environment (MUELE).
“The University is in a way well positioned to deliver digital learning, but the major issue that we got were complaints from the students who did not have the gadgets to participate in this mode of learning” noted the Prof. Nawangwe in appreciation of the initiative by Stanbic.
The Vice Chancellor emphasised that online learning is not about COVID-19, but is the future of humanity especially as the trend in the global trend in service provision increasingly leans towards digital. He therefore cautioned that, “we in Africa must not risk being left behind again and become victims of the digital divide.”
Prof. Nawangwe paid tribute to Stanbic for being a longstanding partner of Makerere and willingly agreeing to support the acquisition of laptops by students eager to embrace digital learning.
“If our students cannot do digital learning, then who is going to push our country into the digital era?” pondered the Vice Chancellor, before adding “On this note, let us be serious as a country and support digital learning because that is the future.”
He concluded by calling upon the students to take advantage of the scheme, adding that every student in Uganda beyond Makerere deserves to be accorded the same facilitation to embrace digital learning.
The CEO Stanbic in her remarks noted that the MoU signing was an emotional and joyous occasion for her as an alumna, as well as many members of her team that have gone through the gates of Makerere.
Ms. Juuko shared that it was therefore a duty of employers such as Stanbic to partner with institutions like Makerere to produce graduates that are employable. “I can tell you now that if you are not digitally savvy, you cannot be employed, that is the gold standard that has been set by the market.”
She added that the MoU was part of Stanbic’s pioneering spirit of recognising the challenge and desiring to be part of the solution. She noted that although the Bank had chosen to start with Makerere, they intended to rollout the scheme to the rest of the country.
“It starts with the gadget itself: we are partnering with the Teachers’ Union on how we can work with them to provide digital training because it is skill, and we working very hard with the Ministry of Education (and Sports) on these matters as well” added the CEO.
Seated: The Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (C), CEO Stanbic-Ms. Anne Juuko (R) and 87th Guild Speaker-Rt. Hon. Gatuya Mucyo (L) with Standing L-R: Mr. Samuel Mugabi-DICTS, Ms. Annette Kiconco and Mr. Samuel Mwogeza-Stanbic, Mr. Javason Kamugisha-Director Legal Affairs, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli-Dean of Students, Ms. Ritah Namisango-Principal PRO, Mr. Gonzaga Mbalangu-Directorate of Legal Affairs, Ms. Candy Okoboi and Mr. Allan Asiimwe-Stanbic after the MoU signing.
Proposed structure of the Scheme
- Laptop is made accessible to a First Year Student reporting to Makerere for approximately UGX 70,000 per month, payable throughout the duration of the programme.
- Laptops will also be made accessible to Continuing Students albeit at higher monthly payments, owing to the shorter duration to programme completion.
- Laptops will be customisable by specifications and software installation depending on specific demands of student programmes.
- Students must be fully registered with the University, be in possession of a National ID, and fully registered for a Stanbic Flexipay Wallet in order to enroll on the scheme.
- Laptop is comprehensively insured against fire, damage and theft, at a price covered by the monthly payments.
- Laptops will be regularly serviced at a price covered by the monthly payments.
- Stanbic will work with the School of Engineering and other relevant units to ensure that Makerere students are trained and enabled to run the laptop servicing/maintenance workshops.
Speaking on behalf of the 87th Students Guild, the Speaker Rt. Hon. Gatuya Mucyo welcomed the initiative with a disclaimer.
“As the Students Guild and Students at Makerere University, mostly at a time when we are celebrating 100 years of excellence, we cannot be against online studies. It is one of the initiatives that we welcome so much” he said.
The Guild Speaker welcomed Stanbic to engage in various students activities such as innovation exhibitions and committed to mobilize students through the Guild House to act as agents to popularise the scheme from the College level right down to the classroom level.
Adding a rejoinder to the days remarks, the Vice Chancellor reminded the audience that the University had, in a bit to make digital learning affordable, since the COVID-19 lockdown, made arrangements with MTN and Airtel to zero-rate Makerere‘s online platforms. This is in addition to talks with the University’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) RENU to grant similar access to other platforms such as Zoom.
“Through the Research and Education Network of Uganda-RENU, we have managed to zero-rate an opensource platform – Big Blue Button, which is integrated with our Learning Management System. We are also looking at zero-rating Zoom – a commercial application, through RENU” supplemented Mr. Simon Mugabi, the Director ICT Support (DICTS).