Makerere University Applies to MasterCard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery Program For Smart Classrooms

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • July 20, 2020

Makerere University is applying for the MasterCard  Foundation COVID-19 recovery and resilience programme to finance the establishment of smart classrooms.

This is one of the interventions that the university is considering following the effect of COVID-19 on routine learning programmes. The university like all other educational institutions has been closed since March 2020, when the government announced a lockdown to forestall the pandemic.

As the government eased the lockdown, universities were also given the flexibility to explorer possibilities of continuing instruction through e-learning. But Makerere University officials say that their plan to fast track the operationalization of the open, distance and e-learning systems have been slowed by funding shortfalls.

Professor Umar Kakumba, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academics says that the university needs over 3.7 billion Shillings to support the establishment of smart classrooms at each college in addition to the upscaling of wireless hotspots at the university.

“We hope that if we get this grant, it will push us far. We are already building capacity in other areas like training staff on the utilization of digital technologies, online course design and pedagogy. Now we need the infrastructure that will enable us to deliver,”  Professor Kakumba says.

Makerere is also scaling up the storage capacity of their servers to enable high content storage and live streaming. “We are going to integrate our system with remote collaboration tools like zoom. We also think of getting over 100 zoom licenses with each college having the capacity to host up to 500 participants,” Prof. Kakumba added.

A smart classroom is technology-enhanced set up that fosters opportunities for teaching and learning by integrating learning technology such as computers, specialized software, audience response technology, assistive listening devices, networking, and audio/visual capabilities.

The MasterCard Foundation put up a programme to help educational institutions to transit to digital delivery of courses, mentoring and student outreach as well as preparing learning institutions for future crises and what ought to be the future of education.

Makerere is not the only University racing to establish an e-learning system at this time. Kyambogo University has also already earmarked over 400 million Shillings to get google classroom licenses as they embark on student instruction after a break of over four months. Unlike public universities, several private universities had already ventured into e-learning with their learning management system developed.