Varsities should revisit the concept of research

Editor, RE: “Who is responsible for poor academic research?” (The New Times, April 27).
Kigali Institution of Management (KIM) students during a lecture. (File)
Kigali Institution of Management (KIM) students during a lecture. (File)


RE:Who is responsible for poor academic research?” (The New Times, April 27).

Research is critical for development of any country. Indeed, project defence rooms should not be considered as torture chambers for students. However, I want to state that the way supervision is done in Africa is analog and in most cases students think that defence of their own projects is unnecessary. I think that is partly why many doctors and professors are graduated in the western world than in Africa where professors are so rigid they sit on proposals of students fearing young professors to emerge.

If you sample doctors and professors who studied in the western world, they will all most likely say that it’s easier to carry out research and complete it in time out there than in Africa. In East Africa, students from universities find it so hard to complete their studies due to bureaucracy in research.

I think research publications should be replaced with real projects, for instance, it would make sense if students in journalism were in a position to design electronic media programmes and design and layout for magazines, newspapers.

In ICT, we want to see students coming up with projects which can help address problems in society. Students’ research report books as we know them today are not effective.

As the world continues to shrink into a global village, it’s important to note that education and research are ‘moving’ at a rapid speed. A case in point is news that this year Makerere University of Uganda might scrap some courses because they are deemed irrelevant.

Another burning issue is, you find doctors and professors who cannot switch on a laptop; how do you expect them to supervise ‘digital students’ who are using sophisticated equipment? There are many employees who have opted for postgraduate diploma courses just to avoid research ‘torture’.

I would commend that all universities should have departments of research with qualified staff. Research should stop being taken as a punishment for students. It should be used to help solve problems facing our communities.

Henry Mapesa