We spotted the sign for this on the first day – right next door to our guest house, so Friday morning, whilst waiting for the broken down truck to be repaired – we had an opportunity to pop into the building. Not sure many English universities would like it if you just popped in and asked to look around.
We were met by the Academic Registrar, who was really pleased to show us round, ensuring that we also signed the visitors book.
The School first opened in Kampala in 1996, and opened this one in Soroti in 2010 – with the first students about to graduate in March. There’s expected to be around 40 who will have submitted reports from their internships, from a total of 170 students across all years.
Many of the students were sat outside in groups, or round a table with a tutor – small groups of 4-5, although there are two lecture halls (reminded me of a garage) that seats 40 – with a large chalk board.
All teaching is done face-to-face, there’s no online learning, although they hope to one day – but many students don’t have computers. The schools that we’ve seen in the villages are most definitely ‘learn by rote’, so this looks more interactive! The courses started off as journalism courses, but have expanded to include business development – all to diploma level.
There’s a small sound-proofed radio booth – this can only be heard within the school (on FM), but is good practice, and makes it easier for students to get internships which appear to be core to the course. We also saw the computer room, with around 9 screens running off one CPU – none with the internet.
Many of the students do have phones, but again, mostly for talking as smart phones are too expensive. These are used extensively, and indeed, in every spare socket a phone was plugged in charging. The school has several ‘self-help’ type inspirational notices, as in this country it does appear to be survival of the fittest, but the school indicated that this gives students a good chance at a job – within the sector… but that social media isn’t on the curriculum.
You can see more about the School at http://umcat.co.ug
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.