Dr. Caesar Jjingo wins Fulbright Award to promote the teaching of Kiswahili in Uganda

As Makerere University intensifies efforts to promote the teaching of Kiswahili, Dr. Caesar Jjingo has also joined efforts to gain more knowledge in exploring the Kiswahili using teaching competence-based curriculum and related approaches

Dr. Jjingo is among those who will be flying to the United States of America in August to conduct post-doctoral research in competence based curriculum at the University of Arizona.

This after winning a five-months Fulbright African Research Scholar Grant aimed at enhancing curriculum development in relation to competence-based language – Kiswahili –  teaching at Makerere University and Uganda at large.

Fulbright African Research Scholar Program is a U.S funded program directed at faculty from African Universities to support them conduct postdoctoral research at U.S academic research institutions or universities

The program is expected to contribute to the development of new courses, curricula, or programs upon the participant’s return to his or her home institution.

During the orientation of all the beneficiaries of the U.S Embassy scholarships, the public engagement Officer at the U.S Embassy Kampala, Amy B. Petersen said, “We are proud to sponsor the Fulbright program which is an academic exchange program and each year we send 10 to 12 Ugandans students on the different academic exchanges”.

She said Makerere University has previously been the biggest benefactor of the Fulbright program. She, however, noted that this year, only one staff of the university is benefiting from this program unlike last year where about three of them benefited.

The program is fully funded by the U.S.  Government and has been happening for over 75 years.

“This is one of the flagship programs for international understanding, mutual cooperation exchange that brings countries together through academic exchange,” Petersen said.

She explained that the students before departure are given an orientation to equip them with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the United States of America.  

“This orientation prepares them for life in America, it is hard to be in another country not of your origin, especially when you are a student, but the orientation helps to prepare them academically, how to live, so that they can thrive while doing their academic work,” she said.

Amy B. Petersen (Left) with Dr. Caesar Jjingo (Right) during the orientation of all beneficiaries of the U.S Embassy scholarships.

She advised them to always prepare for their travels by doing some sort of reading, preparing for their studies, understanding the situation and also embrace personal orientation in addition to being in connection with the people in charge of them in the United States of America.      

While attending the orientation at the American Centre at the Embassy Plaza in Nsambya, Dr. Jjingo said he specialises in Kiswahili language particularly in syllabus designing and curriculum development.

“I am the second Kiswahili specialists to have won this award, the first being Prof. Ruth Mukama who got it in 1993 almost 30 years ago. I am happy that I was also able to get it as a Kiswahili specialist,” Dr. Jjingo said.

“I will be going to the University of Arizona specifically to study more and also do research on competence-based language teaching which was introduced in Uganda a few years back,” he added.

He explained that despite the introduction of competence-based teaching in Uganda, a section of Kiswahili teachers who are in service do not know much about it.

“Given that some of us who are teacher trainers were ‘never’ trained on how it works, the principles and the theories behind it, I felt it was wise to go to the country where it originated from and learn from the experts.”

While at Arizona University, for the five months, Dr.Jjingo hopes to learn how to develop a training manual such that his coming back will mean training other teacher trainers with regards to Kiswahili or languages in general such that they can be at par in regard to training teachers.

Dr. Jjingo cited a general gap with the competence-based curriculum which was launched in Uganda saying many Kiswahili teachers complain of not knowing how the projects are done or evaluated etc.

“Much as the National Curriculum Development Centre retools teachers, you find that there is a gaps which I want to contribute addressing,” Dr. Jjingo emphasized.

He said, while at Arizona University, he will develop a training manual which can be contextualized to different teacher training institutions in Uganda especially for those that produce Kiswahili teachers,” he said.    

He said on his coming back, he expects to teach students the different components, rationales, theories and models behind the competence-based language teaching which currently he does not have and they have been missing.

This comes at the time when the country introduced Kiswahili as a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools as a way of integrating fully with the other EAC partner states.

Uganda joined Rwanda in the list of regional countries seeking to boost their language use as they seek opportunities in the integrated EAC where English and Swahili are the main languages of communication.

Dr. Brian Semujju, a senior Lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication also an alumni of the Fulbright program said the program has helped him make professional friends  and taught him how to teach science communication.

He implored more university staff to apply for the scholarships so that they can build a strong research base and alumni.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply