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  • 05th October, 2021 12:00am
  • 8 minutes read
The Rector Islamic University in Uganda Associate Professor. Dr. Ismail Simbwa Gyagenda has received the title of Honorary Professor from the Academic Union of Oxford (UK). 

According to the letter addressed to Dr. Simbwa Gyagenda from the academic union oxford the Presidium, members, and partners of the Academic Union of Oxford (UK) expressed their respect and gratitude for the Rector's significant contribution to the development of national science and education.

The UK academicians cited attributes of Prof. Gyagenda as among others being his successful experience as a manager and organizer of the educational process, an innovative view to the educational sphere development, and in-depth knowledge of the scientific research subject. The UK union observed that these traits will be of great value to fellow colleagues around the world.

"I'm pleased to contact you with a proposal to become a member of the prestigious academic community Academic Union, Oxford with the presentation of the appropriate attributes, all rights, and privileges," the Academic Union of Oxford letter reads in part.

Prof. Gyagenda is to be bestowed upon the title of Honorary Professor of the Academic Union, Oxford with lifelong membership in the Academic Union and its base structures (Expert council, speakerís bureau, Honorary Professors council).

According to the letter, the rector's participation in the projects and initiatives of the Union will be positively accepted by the international scientific and business community and will strengthen his personal brand, as the leader of the educational sphere and authority of  IUIU on the national, regional, and global levels.  

As the Honorary Professor, he will receive the attributes including mantle, diploma, personal certificate, and chain via special courier. 

Online presentation of the title holders was held live in the framework of Achievements Forum 2021 ĎExcellence in Quality and Managementí on October 5.

In addition to the presentation of regalia, the procedure involves the recording of the life inaugural speech or an interview at the ceremony and a preliminary recording of the inaugural lecture with posting on the official resources and in the Academic Union media. 

In his address to the Union, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ismail Simbwa Gyagenda shared his views on the ďpost-covid era and what Universities have faced withĒ and below is his full address.

Bismillah Rahman Rahiim my distinguished colleagues who are being honored today and all the participants who are witnessing this global virtual event organized by the Academic Union Oxford and with special recognition to my staff and students at IUIU and my family Assalaam Alaikum W W.
I want to share some of my ideas as the new Rector of Islamic University in Uganda and my names are Ismail Simbwa Gyagenda.
Before I share my views on the post-covid era and what Universities have faced with, let me briefly talk about IUIU.
We started on February 10th, 1988 but the idea was mooted 14 years earlier at Lahore in Pakistan in the 02nd Summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference now known as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The Founders including the late King Faiswal Abdul Aziiz, King Hassan of Morocco, President Ali Butoh of Pakistan, Emir Sabah of Kuwait, and others, talked about education in Africa and they said that they needed to support the youth of Africa to be able to prepare them for the world to come, so a decision was made. First, to make Uganda a full member of OIC, but also to establish two Universities in sub-Saharan Africa, One for Francophone Africa and one for Anglophone Africa.
Our president at that time, President Idi Amin apparently put up his hand and declared that he would host the Anglophone University. 
So push forward 1988 under the wise leadership of our current president General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the new University opened its doors to 80 students at a former Secondary School Nkoma Secondary School.
As we speak now 33 and a half years later this humble beginning has turned into a fully-fledged university with over 90 programs at Certificates, Bachelors, Post-Graduate diplomas, Masters and PhD levels serving over 10,000 students.
We have four campuses, Main Campus is in Mbale about 220 km from Kampala, another one is where I am sited now Kampala Campus which also houses our medical school, we also have another Campus a few Kilometers from here Females Campus that is dedicated to the Girls child, we have over 1030 girls pursuing their dreams. And then we have another Campus, Arua Campus, which is in the North near the border of Sudan and South Sudan and it has 500 students.
So, in a way, we have grown and we are ready to move on, we are ready to serve the community, thanks to the dream of the founders. 
However, what do we do in the current situation of Covid19 and lack of resources and lack on enough money for salaries? I think at IUIU we have been very pragmatic we use whatever we have to ensure that we train our young people in both skills and character, MashaíAllah our products are needed and are wanted in the Community. They have the skills, they have the character and discipline to serve.
Covid and Post Covid mean a lot of things. We must change the way we teach. The idea of physical meetings between a lecturer and students can no longer be the only way to teach. At IUIU since covid started we have developed a platform of                 Open Distance e-Learning (ODeL) as mandated by the National Council for Higher Education by our young ICT group led by Hamza Sekalema. We have a fully-fledged ODeL system where teachers can enroll and teach, they can grade, they can counsel they can advise. And I think that is the way. A lot of Universities, I think are already there but we are pledging to continue this creative way of meeting the needs of a Dotcom generation.
One of the other challenges of course is that some of us were born before computers. Yet our young peopled are dotcom generation. They have access to so much information even before they become our students. My own daughter Shahida who is 13 years old knows more about the world I think more than me because the smartphone tells her a lot of things.
So how do we prepare these young people that are coming to us?  If a 13-year-old has a lot of information, how about a 19-year-old who comes to our campuses these days.  I think we have to recognize that this new generation has a lot of information. I think the new teacher of today must now engage them and facilitate the learning rather than thinking the old style where the student was supposed to have a tabular writer and open brain and the teacher was supposed to pour in information.
So, we are supposed to be facilitators now, where you engage the student, to research, get credible sources of information because again the internet has everything, it has the good, the bad, and the ugly. How do you teach them to only get what is needed, what is valuable, that is going to help them to navigate the complex world of the 21st century.
I think that is the charge of every Vice Chancellor or Rector. And I think at IUIU we are ready to embrace that world. Of course, we need the support of our friends and I want to thank the Government of Uganda under President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Secretary General of OIC, and all the member states of OIC especially the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria which gives us seconded staff through their Technical Aid Corps, Malaysia, and Indonesia. So, these Countries and these Communities are helping IUIU to bridge the gap for our students and prepare them for the new world. Locally also we are engaging many stakeholders. 
In fact, on the Campus where I am sitting right now, five acres of land were donated by the Young Men Muslim Association (YMMA with their Patron Prince Dr. Kassim Kakungulu Nakibinge.  
We are engaging other local stakeholders, philanthropists who are saying what do you want? And I think using American Model where the University Actually engages in Business, IUIU, we are going to establish an endowment arm to provide endowment, to establish an endowment, so that these provide extra income rather than depending on tuition like we are doing now. 
In conclusion, I also take this opportunity to thank the Academic Union Oxford who saw something in me to appoint me a lifetime Honorary Professor and I pledge to work with them, to work with my other colleagues who have been honored, to work with the academic communities around the world to take try and make life better for our young ones and old who come to us and those who come to our campuses whether they are physical campuses or online campuses. 
I think the challenge is big. However, the opportunities are many. The Assistant Secretary General of OIC has challenged us to link with all the thousands of Universities across the Muslim World. That is what I am going to do and I will be planning to go to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to link with our friend there and see how we can leverage support from there. These friends, we shall work with them to ensure that we meet the challenges of the day.
I call upon our youth to also be dedicated and also to dedicate themselves to our strong core values of Faith, Integrity, Excellent, Diversity, and creativity. 
Assalaam Alaikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuhu.