It’s fun to study for a Y-M-B-A

Surgeon_General's_warning_cigarettesIn this edition, discover how Uganda is leading the way in Sub-Saharan Africa on public health issues such as smoking and road safety, and about the Ugandan student taking distance learning to extremes. Meanwhile, worried voices are raised about some of the unexpected effects of universal primary education – read on…

Uganda news in brief: commentators spot shades of 1964 in M7-Mbabazi row (Observer) ++++ Ugandan takes top job in SA Broadcasting Company (Observer)  ++++ 109 dead as boat carrying Congolese refugees capsizes on Lake Albert (Monitor) ++++ Users up in arms about telecoms rights abuses (Independent)


SAFETY: Sub-Saharan Africa is the most dangerous place for pedestrians and cyclists in the world. Uganda now intends to lead improvements in safety for non-motorised traffic, through a raft of laws and education programmes to protect those most vulnerable on the roads, the Guardian reports.

HEALTH: Uganda’s parliament, according to New Vision, is considering stepping up the anti-smoking campaign – requiring warning messages on every packet. Between 2001 and 2011, youth smoking has rocketedfrom 12% to 19% among males and from 11% to 15% in the young female population. The authorities are also considering banning shisha to cut some of smoking’s cool, the Monitor reports.

DISTANCE LEARNING: Ugandan Maurice Tukamuhebwa recently studied at the Unversity of Leicester – without any need to visit the campus. A remarkable demonstration of distance learning’s possibilities, he started his MBA in the DRC, moved home to Uganda, went on to South Sudan, completed his degree in Afghanistan and is now the head of a logistics company in Kampala. The Independent reports on the successes of distance learning today.

ENERGY: what strain do Uganda’s schools put on the environment? Many of them lack electricity, relying on more inefficient fuels, such as wood, for cooking and lighting. A primary school, the Observer calculates, needs 12 trucks of firewood a year to feed 700 pupils for a year. And since the introduction of universal primary, there are a lot more primary schools using a lot more wood – 294,000 trucks at least, the equivalent of a small forest. Uganda loses 2.2% of its forest cover a year – one reason why people are on the lookout for innovative ways to increase fuel efficiency in schools.

TRAUMA: a new campaign has been set up to heal the deep wounds left by the LRA insurgency in the north. Acholi leaders from the region are backing a story-telling programme to help Kony’s many victims overcome their traumatic past, the Observer reports.

BRAIN DRAIN: triple wages, a company car and a plot of land to call your own – just some of the ways, the Observer finds, that Ugandan private schools are using to lure good teachers out of the public system.

RESEARCH: the anti-gay law has caused huge cuts in foreign aid – something which could well have a knock-on effect on research. Scientific research in Uganda is highly dependent on foreign aid, Sci-Dev reports – and the estimated $100m aid cut has already started to bite into their budgets.

RURAL AFFAIRS: at the YMCA, according to the famous song, “you can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal, you can do whatever you feel”. Including, now, studying for a degree. The YMCA in Uganda is about to turn itself into a degree-awarding vocational institution, according to the Observer. A university campus is to be set up in Buwambo, Matugga, offering courses in amongst others hotel management, cosmetology and business administration.

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