The 4 success factors of the Norway – Uganda NORHED project

In 2013, partner institutions:  Uganda Christian University (UCU); NLA Gimlekollen University College in Norway and University of KwazuluNatal in South Africa recieved about 11 Million Norwegian Kroners from the NORHED/NORAD Program to undertake a 5-year capacity building project for UCU.

FACULTY LAUNCH: Some of the consortium members during the launch. From Left: Ottar, Terje, Liv Iren, Sara, Angella, Monica, Carol, Ruth, Lars, Bjørn, Chris, Solveig and Emilly. 
Norwegian Ambassador to Uganda Ms. Susan Eckey addressing the gathering at the Faculty launch.

As the 5th year winds, the project’s core objective attained include:

5 Phds and a running Masters course with several grads. We have had over 20 publications and more are in the pipeline. In addition, 8 exchange Masters students have been to Norway. A multimedia lab has also been established at UCU in addition to over 550 books installed in the library. We had three 3 (research/dissemination and network-building) conferences in the two main countries of the project in Norway and Uganda and much more. To culminate the project, the department of Journalism and Media studies has been elevated to a Faculty (of Journalism, Media and Communication) the first of its kind in the country. All these have been achieved several months before project end phase which is such a rewarding achievement.

4 success factors

As part of the academic staff, looking back, there has been some unique qualities (success factors) from the project that set it apart – that aligned to individually and collectively contributed to the success of this project that i take with me:

Role of Coordinators: The three coordinators from UCU, NLA and UKZN have known each other for over 20 years. A friendship they have nurtured over the years and that frendship, trust and mutual respect had direct consequences in the conception, implementation and conclusion of the project.

The teams: Secondly, the people hand-picked for the implementation were consciously and strategically selected for both their compentences in the form of what they could bring professionally omboard but also the strong supportive personalities of committment, hard work, professionality and humility. The convergence of these unique talents in one project were a cornerstone for the success of the project. 

Dedicated Students: To balance the equation, a crop of dedicated and hardworking students were recruited for the Masters and PhD courses. As a result, not only was the teaching enjoyable and engaging but also the output has been very impressive as a consequence. The Masters course in Journalism and Media studies was carefully crafted to capture contextual academic and industry demands while encapsulating the ever-changing global media trends and developments. We hope it can remain current through continued curriculum reviews.

Equal and inclusive partnership: Perhaps the most vital and often missing link in many North-South partnered projects is the power imbalances. This project, right from the begining, was based on equal partnership, transparency and mutual respect. This was manifested in the whole project circle from idea conception, implementation and transition – all of which were done in a timely and well-thought through manner. This, combined with the support from the ‘highest’ echelons of the respective Universities bred the fertile ground for the kind of success that the project has experienced. So the project thrived in this condusive environment and well-anchored support structures.

As Terje (front row dark blue shirt) said; capturing this moment at the Equator was a symbolic representation of our mutuallly respectful North-South partnership.

Thank you: The culmination of the project with the launch of the new Faculty  (November 23) proceeded with a safari to the Queen Elisabeth National park in the beautiful Pearl of Africa couldn’t have been a better closure to the project. It has been a personally, intellectually and spiritually rewarding experience for me and I am for ever grateful for the honour and priviledge of being part of it. Thanks to the 3-pillars – who brilliantly pulled it off – coordinators: Dr. Terje Skjerdal, Dr. Monica Chibita and Professor RuthTeer Tomaseli and to the entire family of colleagues, students, family, friends and well wishers in Uganda, South Africa, Norway and the United States.

Special thanks to NORAD and the NORHED PROGRAM for this direct, long term and durable gift towards education for my country. We really needed it. We now need to consolidate these wonderful gains. ‘Oliver Twist’ 😉😉😉

Related coverage (Norsk): NLA.no

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