Leapfrogging 1st Generation Distance Education into 4th and 5th Generation Distance Education: A Strategy for Enhancing ICT Pedagogical Integration and Increasing Access to Education in Africa

Project Goal

To increase access to flexible quality education in Makerere University by increasing capacity to integrate ICTs into pedagogical processes through leapfrogging the current 1st generation distance education provision into 4th and 5th generation distance education provisions.


Makerere University (Mak), a hitherto single-mode institution, became a dual-mode university in 1991 when it launched its first distance education programs. At that time, distance education was delivered through print modules prepared by lecturers and delivered to students when they report to the University to attend occasional residential (face-to-face) sessions. This mode of delivery was termed the correspondence mode and has since been categorised as the 1st generation distance education.

Twenty-two (22) years down the road, the mode of provision of distance education at Mak has not changed! Distance learners still depend on print study materials which are blended with occasional face-to-face sessions at the main campus with no or limited use of ICTs. This 1st generation form of distance education provision is archaic, costly and accessible only to a limited number of students. The situation has remained static for the last 22 years because Mak does not have the financial, human, infrastructural and technical capacity to implement ICT based distance education.

By the year 2000, only two distance learning programs – the Bachelor of Education (External) and Bachelor of Commerce (External) had a total enrolment of 7,000 students. Overtime, the number of distance learning programs has grown to five. However, due to the poor student support system, characteristic of 1st generation distance education, retention of students has continually declined due to high attrition levels averaging at about 60% per intake cohort. Presently, there are 3,425 distance



Project description

With the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) and interactive, mobile, ubiquitous and synchronous ICTs, universities world over are embracing the distance education mode of delivery using these ICTs. The opposite is true for the distance education provision at Mak. Since its inception in 1991, distance education at Mak is largely still of 1st generation order or of the correspondence form. Current distance education programs at Mak utilise print-based study modules supplemented by occasional residential sessions at the main campus. The programs are more teacher-centred than learner-centred. They employ limited and in most cases, no ICTs at all. They are thus limited to a few privileged students and are costly to run. Consequently, this 1st generation distance education defeats the cardinal aim of distance education, which is, to massify, at a low cost, the provision of education and reach out to all those who cannot afford to attend a fulltime education.


Stagnation at the 1st generation distance education has curtailed Mak’s ability to foster ICT pedagogical integration. This stagnation has been occasioned by the limited infrastructural, technical, human and financial capacity of Mak to implement 4th and 5th generation distance education. The 4th and 5thgeneration distance education uses intelligent flexible learning models which employ interactive multimedia (IMM) online; e.g., social networks, Internet-based access to WWW resources, computer-mediated communications using automated response systems and campus portal access to institutional processes and resources.

In this Project, we aim at achieving resources and human and technical capacity to offer blended/online learning programs. Through this Project, financial resources shall be secured to build the necessary infrastructural, technical, human resource and research capacity for leapfrogging Mak’s 1st generation distance education provision into 4th and 5th generation distance education mode.

When 4th and 5th generation distance education is achieved at Mak, lifelong learners with multiple social, political, economic and religious obligations and challenges; youth completing Advanced (‘A’) Level studies; marginalised groups, Ugandans in the Diaspora; and other nationals within and without the Eastern Africa region will be able to access quality higher education. Education will be extended to socially, economically, geographically or politically disadvantaged individuals or groups of people. Such persons could be: women and men emerging from war, conflicts and natural disasters, individuals stricken by disease and poverty, women whose movements are limited by gender and reproductive obligations and those persons qualifying but cannot be absorbed in the limited brick-and-mortar universities in LMICs.

Further, with 4th and 5th generation Distance Education, nationals of South Sudan will be able to access education from Mak, without the need to travel to Uganda for extended periods. This will abet capacity development in the young nation of South Sudan.

Offering 4th and 5th generation distance education is in line with Uganda’s Vision 2025 which is committed to providing an education which imparts the 21st Century skills to its citizenry. It is also in line with Mak’s 10 year strategic plan which articulates open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) as the number-one strategic action for increasing access to flexible education at Mak. This Project is also in line Millennium Development goals of eradicating poverty and gender equality.

Intended Outcomes

Education (Bachelors and Masters Level)

  1. Increased number of bachelor and masters programs transformed into online/blended learning Programs
  2. Increased number of bachelors and masters Programs offered through blended/online learning mode
  3. Increased number of students pursuing blended/online bachelor and masters studies at Mak
  4. Increased number of staff at Mak with knowhow of delivering blended/online courses and Programs
  5.  Increased numbers of South Sudan nationals enrolling on blended/online learning programs at Mak
  6.  Increased numbers of staff from Mak enrolling on blended/online learning programs at Mak

PhD and Research

  1. Increased research output in 4th and 5th generation distance education from Mak and UiA
  2. Increased human resource capacity to deliver 4th and 5th generation distance education at Mak.
  3. Increased channels for 4th and 5th generation distance education research findings dissemination.

Institutional Development

  1. Increased number of programs at Mak offered through 4th and 5th generation distance education.
  2. Increased infrastructural capacity for providing 4th and 5th generation distance education.
  3. Increased number of staff at Mak with knowhow of delivering blended/online courses and programs

Target groups

  1. Project Team Members, staff and students from the UiA
  2. Distance Learning Students
  3. Mak Project Team Members
  4. Mak Academic Units
  5. Mak Community (staff and students)
  6. Line Ministries and Agencies (Ministry of Education and Sports, National Curriculum Development Centre, Ministry of ICT Uganda
  7. Nationals from South Sudan


Country of Implementation:                        Norway and Uganda

Project Duration:                                          5 Years

Funding Body:                                              NORAD- NORHED

Project Cost (Amount Applied for):           NOK 17,992,295



Core Project Team


University of Adger

  • Dr. Andreas Prinz Professor of Computer Sciences ICT Department, Faculty of Engineering and Science (Project Coordinator)
  • Professor Frank Reichert (Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science)
  • Professor Sven ÅkeBjørke
  • Associate Professor Morgan Konnestad (study coordinator of Multimedia Bachelor Program and Master Program in E-learning)
  • Assistant Professor Halvard Øysæd (University lecturer in computer sciences and member of the UiA Pedagogical Development Centre (PULS)
  • Mr. Ghislain Maurice Norbert Isabwe (PhD research fellow specialising in ICT for future learning)
  • Mrs. Tonje Sti (Senior Advisor attached to the ICT Department).

Makerere University

  • Dr Paul Birevu Muyinda Senior Lecturer/Head of Department Open and Distance Learning (Project Coordinator)
  • Dr. Jessica Norah Aguti (Associate Professor Department Open and Distance Learning (Alternate Project Coordinator)
  • Mrs. Ruth Nsibirano Kabwigu (from the School of Women and Gender Studies)
  • Dr. Juliana Bbuye (Mr. Samuel Siminyu and Mr Mayende Godfrey staff representatives from the Department Open and Distance Learning)
  • Ms Dorothy Ssebbowa and Mr. Michael Walimbwa staff of the Department of Foundations and Curriculum Studies
  • Dr. Jude Lubega  (eLearning specialist from the School of Computing and Informatics Technology)


  • Ms Annet Joan Kajura, a Senior Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Sports
  • Mrs. Grace Baguma, the Deputy Director at the National Curriculum Development Centre


Contact Details

Dr Paul Birevu Muyinda (PhD) (Senior Lecturer/Head of Department Open and Distance Learning (Project Coordinator)


Tel: +256-772-406919, +256-701-406919