When Michael Masongore enrolled for a course in agricultural mechanisation and irrigation engineering at Busitema University, there was a 32-seater library at campus. According to Masongore, in 2016, students would dash to get seats in the crowded reading section whenever it was time for revision after lectures.
“The atmosphere was constantly stuffy. In fact, some students would remain in the halls of residence to avoid the congestion,” Masongore says. However, this changed after the African Development Bank (AfDB) constructed a contemporary library complex at Busitema campus.
Eriya Ntaga, the university librarian says the new multi-storey structure, whose construction started in 2015, has a sitting capacity of 630. “The students can make use of the open reading space, discussion rooms, as well as the e-learning centre within the library,” Ntaga says. He adds that the new facility also has a repository section for digitally storing research material for future use.
Genesis of the project
Paul Oguttu, the Busia district speaker, discloses that the Busitema University undertaking was part of a nationwide $115m AfDB V project. “This Higher Education Science and Technology (HEST) project of AfDB is aimed at skills development. It targets skills training plus research aimed at job creation and self-employment,” he says. Gregory Tweheyo, the HEST co-ordinator at Busitema University, says much of the works took place at the main campus in Busia district. “The buildings were fully furnished with furniture while laboratories were equipped with electronic gadgets, which create a good learning environment,” he says.
Peace Balala, the university publicist adds that the project also included construction of the faculty of technology building. “There was also infrastructural boost by way of construction of a multi-purpose block at the Nagongera campus, found in Tororo district. The modern buildings have accompanying washrooms,” Balala says. She said the support included civil works at the university workshops that facilitate effective learning. Busitema University’s lagoon was also rehabilitated.
Daniel Kilenga, an ICT technician, says setting up of the e-learning centre is a major boost to the learning environment at the institution. “The students and lecturers can now remotely interact via Learning Management System (LMS) using moodle software. This means that once there is an Internet link, learning can take place,” Kilenga reveals. Bright Kemanzi, a fourth-year student offering bachelor of sciences in water resources engineering, testifies that she can access the system from Kampala city. “The LMS can be accessed from anywhere outside campus. It is a blessing to the learning process and we shall forever be indebted to AfDB V for it,” Kemanzi asserts. She explains that with this arrangement, a lecturer and learners can interface outside the confines of the lecture room.
Grace Adong, the ICT coordinator for the AfDB V project at Busitema University, appreciates the resulting upgrade from archaic to modern gadgets. “Our Local Area Network (LAN) was ineffective because we relied on old-fashioned devices. Due to the AfDB V project, modern browsers, coupled with a 1.5km fibre, helped Busitema to get 30 Internet access points,” Adong says.
She adds that with the newly laid fibre network, the main building, library, faculties as well as halls of residence are linked to Internet on a 24-hour basis. “The re-tooled computer laboratories were furnished to modern standards. This was in terms of furniture, as well as key electrical and fibre link installations,” she says. Adong says 260 computers were delivered to the university to facilitate the shift from analogue to digital status.