Cavendish University Uganda (CUU) hosted a well-attended Online Education Conference on Friday 10th July 2020 to raise awareness on the impact of COVID-19 on the higher education sector. The online conference which was held under the theme, “Effective Teaching and Learning during and post Covid-19,” attracted a distinguished list of prominent academics, regulators and executives in areas related to remote teaching and learning.

Among the prominent presenters of the day were;

- Dr. Pius Coxwell Achanga, the Director, Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), who represented the Executive Director of the NCHE, Prof Mary Okwakol as the chief guest.

- Prof Olubabyi Olubayi, the Chief Academic Officer of Maarifa Education Holding and Chairperson of University Council - Cavendish University Uganda.

- Prof John Wycliffe Muwanga-Zake, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU).

- Dr. Olive Sabiiti, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Cavendish University Uganda and Dean, Faculty of Law.

- Mr. Douglas Opio, the Executive Director of Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE).

- Prof Harriet Mutonyi, an Associate Professor of Education at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, and;

- Ms. Longa-Kaluba Banda, a Lecturer, School of Medicine at Cavendish University Zambia.

The Vice Chancellor of Cavendish University Uganda, Prof John F. Mugisha in his introductory speech to the Conference participants, stated that the conference was meant to achieve a number of objectives which were aimed at;

- Discussing how education institutions can manage the transition to online teaching and learning.

- Exploring the technology options available for online teaching and learning.

- Determining how institutions can manage exams and assessment when teaching online.

- Establishing how practical subjects and skills can be taught online.

- Identifying how academic institutions can craft a COVID-19 trauma informed pedagogy that enables effective teaching and learning during this time of the Corona virus pandemic.

- Building consensus on the appropriate approaches to online teaching and learning.

Prof Mugisha further highlighted that Cavendish University had already taken some steps to transition its students to the online mode of study. In a survey conducted, 96% of the students were willing to transition to online learning and only 4% were uncomfortable with the change. Students were then migrated to the University’s online platform where they have been attending remedial classes since the lock down came into effect.

In his address, the NCHE Director of Quality Assurance, Dr. Pius Achanga disclosed that, “Universities are shifting from conventional education because current circumstances call for different strategies. NCHE has therefore rolled out guidelines for Open Distance E-Learning (ODeL) which are yet to be operationalised.”

The conference was attended by Vice Chancellors, Scholars and Senior management representatives from over 10 Universities in and outside Uganda. Cavendish University Zambia (CUZ), UTAMU, Uganda Christian University, KIU, Clarke International University, Bishop Stuart University, All Saints University Lango, Kabale University, IUIU, Gulu University and Pan African University were well represented at the Conference.

Other distinguished guests included; Dr. Ham Mulira, the Senior Presidential Advisor on ICT, Prof Mugambi, the Executive Director of Uganda Vice Chancellors’ Forum, amidst others. Moderators of the conference were Cavendish University Uganda’s Executive Director, Mr. David Mutabanura and Mr. Fredrick Mufta, the Sales and Marketing Director.

Prof Olubayi Olubayi, the Chief Academic Officer, Maarifa Education Holding and Chairperson of Council- Cavendish University Uganda closed the conference with a thought provoking statement that elicited further thinking and academic debate; “For African education to become meaningful, it must be subversive. We need to borrow from global based practices and Africanise them in a dramatic way that would make Africa stand out as a provider of unique products and services. What is it that African Universities should strategically focus on that is unique to Africa as a continent? What is it that Africa can stand out for in terms of innovation? This in itself requires a Conference of its own!"

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