By Mark Kawalya
Makerere University has entered into a partnership with Stanbic Bank Uganda to support blended learning by enabling students and staff to procure laptops using a hire purchase model.
Makerere and Stanbic signed a Memorandum of Understanding, with both entities represented by Vice-Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe and CEO Anne Juuko, respectively.
Prof. Nawangwe intimated to Stanbic’s CEO and her team that the Makerere University Council approved the Open Distance and eLearning Policy which has enabled several academic programs to be offered fully online.
He further added that although the COVID-19 pandemic took the university by surprise and found it unprepared, it enabled the institution to learn from the experience and develop its e-learning infrastructure.
“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 Prof. Nawangwe.
Anne Juuko, in her remarks, said that putting hand to paper in the MoU signing was an emotional yet joy-filled occasion for her as a Makerere University alumnus, along with other members of her team that have gone through the gates of the institution.
She added that it was important for employers like Stanbic to partner with educational institutions if they are to produce high-level 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.”
Nawangwe added that online learning is not solely a COVID-19 issue but is the future of humanity as more and more service provision leans towards a digital format. He also expressed thanks to Stanbic Bank Uganda for being a longstanding partner of Makerere and championing the initiative of enabling students and staff to acquire laptops.
“If our students cannot do digital learning, then who is going to push our country into the digital era?” asked the Vice-Chancellor. “On this note, let us be serious as a country and support digital learning because that is the future.” In his closing remarks, he called upon the student fraternity to utilize the scheme so that they can acquire the necessary tools to embrace digital learning.
Anne Juuko, further stated that the MoU was in line with Stanbic’s pioneering spirit of recognizing the challenges and working to be part of the solution. She added that although the bank has chosen to start with Makerere, they have plans to roll out the scheme to the rest of the country.