Most of the buildings that currently serve as lecture rooms at Kyambogo University were inherited from her mother institutions, the Institute of Teacher Education-Kyambogo (ITEK), Uganda National Institute of Special Education (UNISE) and Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo (UPK). UPK became the faculty of engineering, whereas the ITEK became the faculty of education.
Since the attainment of a university status in 2003, Kyambogo has not had major infrastructure development. However, there is hope. Following the roll-out of the Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) project in 2016, Kyambogo has had a facelift.
HEST is a $100m (sh350b) project funded by the African Development Bank group (AfDB). The project is being implemented in nine public higher education institutions, Kyambogo inclusive. Facilities at Kyambogo Through the project, Kyambogo has had a number of structures put up.
These include a central teaching facility with a sitting capacity of about 3,500 students at a time and a multi-purpose science complex laboratory. Through the project, Kyambogo has also established a virtual library, where students can access books and journals in the comfort of their sitting rooms.
Additionally, the university has also acquired a technical teacher education complex for skilling youth. Capacity building Some of her academic staff have upgraded and attained higher academic awards at different levels, which include masters and PhD. At the recent graduation, Prof. Eli Katunguka said the project has contributed to the changes at the university.
“We are attracting more students every year, and that means we need more facilities. The HEST has helped us address part of the infrastructure challenges,” he said. Katunguka also re-echoed the need to have more professors at the university. The HEST project aims at building Uganda’s human capital skills’ development capacity, particularly in education and science and technology. These two targets will help the country respond to labour market demands and spur productivity nationally.
How HEST was realised
The AfDB needs assessment indicated that Uganda’s competitiveness in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) was among the weakest in the East African region. The problem, according to the bank, stemmed from the weaknesses in the training of STI capacity.
Higher level skills training is mainly done in public universities and at the time of the project, these were facing major shortfalls, such as poor infrastructure and equipment, insufficient qualified staff and inadequate research capacities. Nationally, the bank said enrollment in STI programmes was below 30%, against an estimated minimum of 40% to have impact in development.
“Access to Higher Education (HE) for STI is inadequate, yet the numbers of those who qualify have been growing as a result of improvements in basic and secondary education,” the HEST manual reads. At the time, the average government funding to higher education was between 10% and 20% of the education budget.
With this background, a special programme (HEST) was foreseeable to change the dark trends of higher education. “The Bank’s support will enable Ugandan public universities and two strategic tertiary institutions to improve their quantity and quality of STI outputs,” the bank’s project manual reads.