Unification News for June 1999

World University Federation

Ugandan Educators Visit UB for Higher Education Seminar
by Gregory Breland—Lexington, KY

Eight Ugandan educators in library science, computer science, education, biological science and physics from Makerere University and the Islamic University as well as the coordinator for the African Virtual University at Makerere traveled over eight time zones to participate in a workshop, "Uses of Information Technology in Higher Education," sponsored by the World University Federation (WUF) and the University of Bridgeport (UB) in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The main credit for organizing of the seminar must be given to Michael Giampaoli, Coordinator of the Office of Distance Education, University of Bridgeport. He was well advised by Marcelo Alonso, Chairman of the Academic Advisory Committee for WUF, Gregory Breland, Secretary General of WUF, and Kenneth Gray, former Secretary General of Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA)-Kenya, and Member of the Board of Trustees at the University.

All of the Ugandan professors benefited from the educational and cultural experience, as well as the interaction and discussion with the UB faculty and administration. They were given presentations and held discussions with faculty in the departments of education, computer science and engineering, business, and health science.

Especially interesting for the visitors were the demonstrations provided by the English Language Institute and the Foreign Language Lab, Robotics Lab, computer technology used in research in the health sciences, specifically chiropractic studies.

A third aspect of the program consisted of experts in the field of computers in education from various educational institutions and government agencies from the state of Connecticut who made presentations and held discussions ranging from information technology in teacher education; software and courseware technology for distance education; assessing curriculum, instruction, and policy via on-line databases in the library.

An added treat was a question-and-answer period held with a representative of the African Virtual University project sponsored by the World Bank in which the formulation and purpose of the program was discussed as well as the immediate and long-term activities outlined. The African Virtual University uses satellite transmission and video tape to distribute American and European-prepared lectures to college students at various sites in several countries in sub-Sahara Africa. The courses can help lead to degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, computers, nursing and business. The aim is to develop entrepreneurs who can help improve the economic situation in Africa.

Some concrete proposals were generated from the discussions between the Ugandan educators and UB faculty. Listed below are the preliminary descriptions of such collaboration.

1. Newly graduated Master of Science and Ph.D.’s could be contracted to teach a minimum of one year in Uganda in just about any field, as the need for teachers there is great. Certain areas identified include: Information Technology, Science, Social Science, and Education. The aim would be to teach college students as well as hold seminars from time to time with interested Ugandan teachers. Agreement would be mutually renewable.

2. Distance Education courses developed by African professors targeted at U.S. students for UB credit with help of UB Distance Education Office. Possible list of courses could include:

African Storytelling and Literature with a strong traditional values component African Tribal Religion and Philosophy African Culture which could include, or be separate from, African Women Studies African Language, Swahili for example Alternative Energy Sources being used in Africa Introduction to Islam International Political Economy and Diplomacy in East Africa

With the recent developments at UB with the College of Nations and Department of World Religions, some of these courses are a natural fit.

3. Distance Education courses developed by UB professors targeted at Ugandan (African) students for Makerere University (MUK) or other university credit with help of UB Distance Education Office. Just about any subject could be used in this scenario as long as it met the credit requirements of the African university. It is recommended that courses complement existing curriculum at the African university, possibly starting on the Master's level. Also one could begin by offering continuing education units before moving up to actual credit. This would ease the acceptance process.

4. Training of teachers workshop. WUF could subsidize a three week workshop in Uganda to address any or all of the following areas: Science, Education, Distance Learning, Library and Information Science

Training could be held at various universities to improve the skills of existing teachers and demonstrate new methods of transferring information with and without computer technology. Looking at the school schedules in USA and Uganda, August seems to be the best month. It may be necessary to send an advance person first to ascertain the situation in the respective discipline, or one may be able to do it through communications with interested parties in Uganda.

5. The Religious Youth Service (RYS) may help in sponsoring an educational experience overseas for credit. The idea is to combine a service project with an inter-faith educational experience (or a secular educational experience) over a 2-3 week period in a foreign country in collaboration with UB to gain college credit. There would need collaboration with a local university to provide lecturers and educational materials. Because of the cost of travel involved, it might be better to begin this kind of project in Central America or the Caribbean.

6. Another area of collaboration could include WUF sponsored research in the Pantanal at the Waterlands Research Institute in Brazil and other research stations as outlined by Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak in his keynote address on February 27, 1999 in Washington, D.C.

To quote Rev. Kwak, to preserve the environmental conditions of the Pantanal "This would best be served by the establishment of research stations from which scholars and environmentalists can monitor ecological conditions on a regular basis. These can be maintained by the World University Federation."

7. Other more standard areas of university collaboration should also be mentioned and considered: Faculty and Student exchange, Joint research on areas of common interest , Joint faculty and/or student activities, Exchange of library, publication, data, and teaching materials, Other joint initiatives identified and agreed upon by two or more members of the federation.

More information can be obtained from the web page: www.wufed.org

Gregory Breland is Secretary-General of the World University Federation.

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