The Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) and the Energy Institute (EI) at UC Berkeley invite you to join us Thursday, September 8th for CEGA and EI's Annual Open House to socialize with faculty and staff, meet with PhD students, and welcome our EASST visiting fellows from Ethiopia and Uganda. We hope that you can join in an afternoon of networking and lively conversation!
Fall 2016 CEGA/EI Open House and Reception for Visiting Researchers:
Thursday, September 8th
Patio in front of Giannini Hall, UC Berkeley (weather permitting*)
To RSVP, please go to the link here.
*If weather does not permit an outside presence, we will gather in 248 Giannini Hall.
The 2016 East Africa Impact Evaluation Workshop and Evidence Summit featured a workshop led by the UN Foundation and the World Bank Strategic Impact Evaluation Group (SIEF) on how to journalists and researchers can work together to help translate technical research findings to a broader audience. Following a panel led by leading journalists in the region on how to build the relationship with media and what makes for a captivating story, journalists conducted interviews with EASST researchers to learn more about the work that they are doing and create conversation around how research can be digestible in the media.
EASST fellow alumnus Dr. Saint Kizito Omala was interviewed about a project funded through the 2016 EASST Research Grant Competition in collaboration with CEGA affiliates Frederico Finan and Ernesto Dal Bo that seeks to examine whether a centralized teacher transfer system can improve job performance in Uganda. The interview, which was conducted by Tasneem Hassanali and originally published in The Citizen article, "In search of a remedy for poor education", can be found below.
by Tasmeen Hassanali
Quality education is seen as a key factor in Uganda and one of the aspects the education system is focusing on is the issue of teachers' absenteeism, which is a core problem.
To combat this and other teacher delimiters, in 2014, the Ministry of Education and Sports of Uganda initiated mandatory transfer of teachers across schools in every five years. However, experts like Dr Kizito Omala say there isn't any evidence that shows that mandatory transfer will boost education quality.
Dr Omala, 49, is a lecturer at Makerere University School of Statistics and Planning in Uganda and has been in the teaching profession for 23 years now. He is one of the researchers facilitating the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) summit that is taking place at the University of Dar es Salaam. He is here to present his research work and also network with Tanzanian researchers to receive feedback that will have a global context and impact.
A teacher cum researcher, Dr Omala is one of the teachers in Uganda who were transferred without being consulted and this led to a disruptive time. This is what prompted Dr Omala to do a research to investigate whether the mandatory transfers of teachers will motivate the teachers and if it will aid to combat teacher absenteeism in schools or if this will worsen the condition.
In Tanzania like Uganda, officials too get transfers and Dr Omala's research findings therefore will not be limited to teachers in Uganda but in Tanzania as well and in all constituencies where officials are transferred.
According to Dr Omala, this will be the first-ever research to be conducted in the world to his knowledge that will examine the impact of transfer of officials across very different units on service delivery. In an interview with Sound Living, Dr. Omala revealed his motivation on the challenging reforms and how Tanzania could possibly learn from his voyage.
What prompted you to become a teacher?
I like staying with people and it was always interesting for me to share what I knew with a classmate right from primary through secondary school. My parents too were teachers. Teaching keeps me youthful, curious and trendy.
How important are teachers in one's life?
Today, the community doesn't highly esteem teachers in contrast to some 30 years ago when teachers were viewed as a locus of knowledge. The identity of a school are its teachers and not its building! If a teacher is an educator, he is the one who causes growth of awareness of the children and enhances their capacity to comprehend the opportunities that the reality around them presents. Simply put, teachers are a continuation of what began at home with our parents.
What prompted you to research on whether mandatory transfer of teachers in every few years to a new school is enough to solve the problem of poor education quality?
I taught in secondary school for 13 years and I found transfers without my input very disruptive. Transfers could be very detrimental to teacher's morale if he or she is transferred to a school without accommodation given that teachers in most rural schools actually live in their own homes.
Transfers also separate families and disrupt the learning conditions of teachers' children if they must move with their transferred parents. Students too must deal with getting used to a new teacher before they can eventually learn what the teacher is teaching. If transfers must be done it should be done carefully and with the direct involvement or account of key characteristics of the affected teachers.
Are you targeting a specific district for your research?
My study aims to investigate the impact of moving primary school teachers in Bugiri district in Eastern Uganda and on teachers' behaviour and children's learning outcome.
Why did you choose Bugiri district?
We want to look at Bugiri district because it has been ranked as the second worst performing district in terms of education. Schools there are heterogeneous and teacher morale is wanting just like all over the country.
A national survey on literacy in English established that only 7 per cent of standard six students were proficient in literacy in English. In other words, 9 in 10 students were declared to be incompetent.
So, it implies that there is an opportunity for engaging in finding out whether there can be an intervention of redesigning teacher transfers as a motivating channel with the possibility of improving students learning.
Also, it was possible to begin a study in Bugiri since it's an entity due to decentralisation. Probably to have a clear picture of the situation in Bugiri might enhance our understanding or reviewing of what is happening in the rest of the districts.
During the foundational stage of your research in Bugiri, what were the findings?
Bugiri district is a host to 145 public schools encompassing more than 1400 teachers. The teacher-student ratio by 2014 was 1: 64 and we found out that teacher absenteeism was high in Bugiri. 16 per cent of teachers were absent in 15 per cent of the school days. Simply put, if we consider that the school term has 100 schools days, it means 16 out of 100 teachers were out of school in 15 days of those 100 school days, which is a concern.
What are the cracks of the policy of mandatory rotation of teachers?
What is missing with this mandatory policy, are the inputs from the teachers. Most of the teachers want to teach in a school near their homes; social security is what concerns them. Additionally, on an average, these teachers receive less than a week's notice about their transfer.
The government of Uganda does not pay for the costs of the teachers' moving and finding a new place to live in. What we discovered during the interviews is that, the teachers had not showed up for a whole month, because they were sorting out the issue of accommodation, where to settle their family and so on.
By EASST fellow Dr. Saint Kizito Omala, Lecturer at Makerere University and Senior Examinations Officer at the Uganda National Examinations Board. This is a cross-post of the BITSS blog.
Technical details, which are often hidden, are what guarantee the credibility of published scientific work. In this regard, Research Transparency (RT) is a primer! To lay bare all retraceable procedures and facts that lead to causal inference is a milestone towards value-for-money and the safeguarding of lives. Through the East Africa Social Science Translation (EASST) Visiting Fellowship program at the University of California, in partnership with the Berkeley Institute for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) and the Center for Open Science (COS), I was able to receive hands-on training on some of the best tools and practices in research transparency and reproducibility. The training was a great eye-opener to me as a researcher and consumer of research findings, as the merits of transparency and tools like Open Science Framework (OSF) have been an aid to scrutiny of research findings. I am convinced that research transparency is a good venture that profits reasonable generation of knowledge and its translation into policy or interventions.
I continue to practice and disseminate the idea of research transparency and associated tools. During the third day of the 2016 East Africa Impact Evaluation Workshop and Evidence Summit on July 14th at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I presented on the need for openness in academic research and publishing. During the EASST fellow led event, 110 researchers, policy-makers, and regional stakeholders were able to learn about how research findings can become more reliable through trainings on Pre-Analysis Plans, data publication via Dataverse, and study registration and workflow using the OSF.
Since my completion of the EASST fellowship in UC Berkeley last fall 2016, I have facilitated 6 Impact Evaluation and research transparency workshops for over 400 graduate students and academics across universities and institutions in Uganda, including Makerere University, Uganda Christian University, and the Uganda National Examinations Board. The next training will take place at Mbarara University of Science and Technology-Uganda, on August 5th, 2016. I think that the ways in which a university, research institution, or publisher embraces research transparency should majorly influence an institution’s world ranking attributes. For a collaborative freeware framework, repositories, and file versioning, try the OSF- and I highly encourage all to uptake practice in research transparency to curtail wastage and damage in the research process.
Dr. Jeanine Condo, former EASST fellow and currently director general of the Rwanda Biomedical Center, comments on the new campaign launched by the Rwanda Biomedical Center to provide free hepatitis B vaccinations to over 2000 people in the Nyarugenge District, Rwanda. The original post was written by Diane Mushimiyimana, and can be found on the Rwanda Focus, here.
The Ministry of health through Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) has launched a campaign against viral hepatitis infections. This has been done by providing hepatitis B vaccination to over 2000 people free of charge at the Kigali Car free zone in Nyarugenge District.
This initiative aims at raising awareness of hepatitis and urgently promoting access to its prevention services and treatment access for hepatitis B and C patients.This exercise also precedes the marking of the World Hepatitis Day celebrated every July 28th whose theme this year is 'Prevent Hepatitis, Act Now'.
According to RBC, the campaign will put more emphasis on prevention and Viral hepatitis B and C infections which are the most common blood-borne infections and are potentially life-threatening liver infections in Rwanda. The two infections cause chronic liver disease and put people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, poor appetite, belly pain, a mild fever, or yellow skin or eyes (jaundice). When hepatitis B and C become chronic, they may cause no symptoms for years. By the time there are any warning signs, the liver may already be damaged.
"The good news is that Hepatitis B is preventable by a vaccine available in Rwanda and that is why prevention will be seriously addressed during the campaign. Hepatitis C, currently has no vaccine, we call upon all the people to look out for early screening of it so as to be able to get early treatment.
Now all district hospitals in Rwanda provide Hepatitis screening services and treatment services are available at the Rwanda Military Hospital, CHUB, CHUK and King Faisal hospital," said Dr. Jeanine Condo Umutesi, the director general of RBC.
Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, head of HIV/STI and Other Blood Borne Infections Division at RBC Rwanda explains that Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It may be caused by drugs, alcohol use, or certain medical conditions. But in most cases, it's caused by a virus. This is known as viral hepatitis, and the most common forms are hepatitis A, B, and C.
Dr Nsanzimana reminded the public that the most common way to get hepatitis B and C is through exposure to infected blood( sexual transmission or by sharing sharp Items. Therefore people are urged to avoid risky behaviors and get vaccines where applicable to remain hepatitis-free.
In Rwanda, the prevalence of hepatitis B and C infections in the general population is not well known and the mortality related to these infections is not accurately established. However, results from Rwanda blood donor surveillance (2002-2012) show a prevalence of hepatitis B stands at 3.2% while the OMS figures indicates that the Hepatitis C prevalence is 4% in Rwanda.
Worldwide, an estimated two billion people have been infected with the hepatitis B virus and approximately 360 million people are chronically infected while more than 185 million live with hepatitis C chronic infection.
Hepatitis B is estimated to be responsible for 500,000 - 700,000 deaths worldwide each year while 350,000 people die from hepatitis C each year.
Though Rwanda is yellow fever free, the ministry of health (MoH) has announced preventive measures to protect people traveling in and out of Rwanda.
Community health workers assembled to handle Malaria treatment. The Ministry of health has established a team of health workers to help in the treatment of the disease and a number of other strategies.