Ugandan DAAD scholar Innocent Muhwezi works on his Master's project in his village which has no electricity.

I am Innocent Muhwezi from Kabale district in Uganda. I am 27 years old and a Master student at Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya, in the Education Research programme. My studies are made possible through a scholarship under the 2019 CERMESA-DAAD In-Region/In-Country programme.

The Corona virus pandemic has made me face unprecedented challenges and adventurous ways of studying and working on my Master’s project. My research topic is “Pedagogical Strategies for Effective Curriculum Implementation of Business Subjects in Secondary Schools of Kabale District, Uganda.” I embraced online resources for my assignments and coursework. Online study has made me share ideas with scholars worldwide through our social media group chats and blogs. Some of the resourceful online interactions I had were with Cate Kajumba, a PhD student at Oldenburg University in Germany, and Professor Karsten Speck, the Dean School of Education, at the same institution. Professor Speck highlighted to me relevant literature search engines like Google scholar, and introduced me to the citation search software, Publish or Perish, for online journals. Cate has taught me search strategies for keywords for my topic that has enabled me to quickly find relevant literature for my project.

The abrupt closure of Moi University forced me to return to my home country, a journey that took me two days, compared to 12 hours by bus under normal circumstances. I had to use four different bus shuttles. Bus companies hiked the transport fares for there was an influx of passengers after the Kenyan government closed universities due to the Corona threat.

This jeopardized my project which was going on well before. The biggest challenge back home in Uganda has been weak internet. I am currently working from my upcountry village, about 400 kilometres southwest of the capital Kampala. It has been very difficult to have productive video call meetings with my supervisor and colleagues. Nevertheless, I have been riding a bicycle for 2.5km to Kabale town to access the strong 4G network. I search and download online journals as PDF which I store on my computer for offline use. I craft my project proposal on a mat under a shade in my parents’ compound.

Electricity has not yet been connected to my village. The Ugandan government has just started putting up electricity poles in the area. We use solar power at home, but it is unreliable due to the rainy season; it is cloudy and therefore little sunshine for solar power. I charge my laptop and backup battery in the near shopping centre that has electricity in cyber shops. This charging and the expensive data bundles due to additional internet tax on bundles are draining my stipend quickly.

Uganda’s effort to improve the network connectivity and the rural electrification programme give me hope that soon electricity and internet-related challenges will be history. Interestingly, my research is focused on the integration of ICT in the curriculum implementation process by business teachers. My results will hopefully encourage teachers to embrace e-learning and the use of online resources such as online video seminars and conferencing.

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