Science excellence awards for research and teaching launched

A new initiative to recognise and promote excellence in the research and teaching of science in higher learning institutions in the East African region and acknowledge the work done by academics has been launched in Uganda.

The Higher Education Awards-East Africa initiative will also focus on how relevant teaching and research efforts are to the region’s social and economic development.

The overall objective of the awards is to highlight the importance of universities in the economies of the countries and livelihoods of the people, said Professor Zerubabel Mijumbi Nyiira, a former agriculture minister in Uganda and a member of the country’s National Academy of Sciences.

Other objectives include building the potential of the more than 100 higher learning institutions in the region to be able to take their rightful place in shaping the development path of more than 100 million citizens of the East African Community (EAC), through accelerated development and technological advancement, he added.

The award scheme, he explained, will help “reawaken” the potential of universities, help identify areas of mutual interest among them and build skills and competencies critical in responding to the region’s socio-economic needs.

A formal call to enter will be launched on 25 January.

There are various categories, which will include a focus on lifetime achievement, business schools, excellence and innovation in the arts, project of the year in arts, humanities and social sciences, and research projects in science technology, engineering and maths.

Following a shortlisting process, the initiative will culminate in the awarding of winners with cash prizes on 29 May, at which heads of states are expected to attend, said Nyiira.

The Higher Education Awards-East Africa Initiative emanate from the East Africa Community Treaty that enjoins partner states to promote cooperation in the development of science, technology and education as their bedrock, added Nyiira.