Map with Ugandan flag

2017-01-18 11:18

SSLIS in broad Swedish-Ugandan collaboration

One project aims to improve education quality and another has a view to strengthen a doctoral programme and its associated research environment and seminar culture; the collaboration between the Swedish School of Library and Information Science and Makerere University in Uganda is broad.

At the East African School of Library and Information Science (EASLIS) at Makerere University in Uganda, there is a desire for more instructors to have completed a doctoral education programme. This is one of the things hoped to be resolved through two joint projects with the Swedish School of Library and Information Science. One is a Linnaeus-Palme Partnership project that aims to promote exchanges between instructors and students in undergraduate education programmes to enhance the quality of education at both universities. The other is a research project funded by Sida, which aims to develop the research and seminar culture at the institution in Uganda.

Pure knowledge

"This type of exchange is very beneficial. It is important to have a humble attitude and realise that we can learn from those who live and work elsewhere," says Veronica Trépagny, who is a Project Coordinator at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science. She continues, "Of course, it is good for one’s development to go away on an exchange--the everyday concerns that we have in Sweden can be put in a whole new light after a stay in a country where internet connection is not a given. But it is also about the exchange of pure knowledge. Stable internet connection or not, they know things at other universities that we don't know here."

Most recently, for example, Joyce Bukirwa from EASLIS came to the Swedish School of Library and Information Science to teach instructors about the open-source integrated library system KOHA. It is a system that is also used at some Swedish libraries, but so far not has been included in the university's education programmes. She has lectured to students about, among other things, knowledge organisation in practice and public libraries' emergence in Uganda.

Broad among Borås researchers

Simultaneously with the exchange within librarian training, efforts are underway to strengthen doctoral education, seminars, and research at EASLIS.

"Researchers from the Swedish School of Library and Information Science have a lot of experience working to build up a research environment; they can come in and provide guidance. At the same time, there are clear guidelines for how a doctoral programme should look at the University of Makerere and our researchers are now working to navigate those guidelines. Parallel to this is an ongoing analysis to see what the needs are in Ugandan society when it comes to labour and so on," says Veronica Trépagny.

As part of the development of the research environment, efforts are being made to build up a number of research groups to which several Swedish researchers are connected. New doctoral students have been accepted to the research groups ; they will be co-supervised by researchers from Borås. It has been seen that the Swedish School of Library and Information Science has a huge advantage here as it belongs to a Faculty here at the University of Borås that brings together researchers and educators in library and information science, pedagogy, and IT.

"Researchers from Borås who are participating and will supervise doctoral students represent both library and information science and IT. Pedagogy is also extremely important in the project as EASLIS is developing its education with a learning platform for more flexible learning. One of their instructors has been to Borås to study our digital solutions, such as online seminars with one of our university educators. The next step is that our university educator will go to Uganda to follow developments on the ground. The partnership is being conducted, simply put, on all possible levels," says Veronica Trépagny.

Publication-promoting conclusion

The research collaboration is scheduled to end in 2020 with a conference within library and information science. Such a conference is an important tool to achieve the goal of more published papers.

"In the Sida project, we encourage researchers from Sweden and Uganda to write articles together, especially when we know that these articles get spread more widely than normally as they address two different contexts. It is something that benefits everyone," says Veronica Trépagny.

Read more:

Read more about the university’s Linnaeus-Palm Partnerships (Swedish only)

Text: Helen Rosenberg

Image: Mostphotos

Translation: Eva Medin