21 October 2019
Hi, my name is Joanitah Nvannungi Nalubega
NEF Ambassador – Uganda
Joanitah N Nalubega is a qualified Industrial Chemist with a deep passion for technology, with keen interest in tech solutions for the health sector. She has worked as a website developer and content manager at Node Six and a content editor for PC Tech Magazine. She holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Applied ICT In Health and Leadership and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health with a goal to utilize existing and new technologies to increase access and affordability of health services to people in low resources communities of the world. She is a part of Afrigal Tech, a team of young women that is working to design and develop an alternative and mobile diagnostics tool for sickle cell Anemia.
She is a Co-founder and developer of the DrugDash system, a Web and mobile platform that is creating visibility of drug stock levels at health centers to all responsible health officials in order to curb drug stock outs and over stocking, in partnership with UNFPA under the UpAccelerate Program. This system increases access of the common man to essential medicines and Health Supplies. Joanitah is a founding partner if a fellowship of creatives called Kafunda Kreative which seeks to build the capacity of young creatives through creating collaborative spaces, opportunities and skilling to push boundaries in their different trades. Joanitah is a 2017 fellow of the Leo Africa Institute from the Young and Emerging Leaders Project, a member and treasurer of the Rotaract Club of Bukoto, and the Next Einstein Forum Ambassador to Uganda – 2017/2019.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SCIENCE IN Uganda
The Government of Uganda established the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in 2016 on recognizing Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) as drivers of socio-economic growth and transformation the world over. The ministry houses a technology and Innovation development which is an important determinant of progress and transition. The ministry provides leadership, an enabling environment and resources for scientific research and knowledge-based development for industrialization, competitiveness and employment creation leading to a sustainable economy. In 2006, the Government of Uganda started the implementation of strategic policy on science education which aims to bridge the gap by training more scientists. The policy made the study of science subjects, namely: Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics compulsory for ordinary level secondary school students. In addition, first year students are required to take some science subjects. The Government decreed that students who pursue science disciplines would receive 75% of the Government scholarships to public universities and tertiary institutions in Uganda. This and several efforts by public and private sector initiatives to introduce experiential training in science education has seen a dramatic increase in the number of students pursuing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Additionally, the last decade has seen the emergence of several programs targeted at increasing women’s participation in STEM fields and careers with a focus on changing girls’ socialization towards the arts subjects, as there is an overall impression of science as masculine. Retention of women in STEM careers remains low especially at higher levels of management and leadership due to several constraints including a lot time away from work invested in home care work. In April 2019, the President of Uganda HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni inaugurated the first National Task force on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to advise the government on a roadmap for government ministries, agencies and departments to plan to adopt and harness the power of the new and emerging 4IR technologies towards the country’s development.
The conversation on the 4IR is ripe and has stirred the emergence of several initiatives centered around skilling young people in line with the “Future of Work” projections. A lot remains to be done to adequately prepare the country’s youth and align public and private sectors to meaningfully participate in the 4IR. Positive advancements in policy and programs that support STEM development continue to be overshadowed by largely prohibitive policies such as taxes being levied on the use of mobile money services and over-the-top services such as social media sites, and poorly implemented policies such as registration and regulation of online broadcasters which in theory should ensure good practices and enhance quality of information and home-grown content in the country and certification of information technology practitioners. Despite constraints in capital resources, human capital development, injurious policies and the poor implementation of potentially beneficial policies and programs, efforts to support STEM development and research and development such as of the NEF, ministries and departments of government and several private sector players continue to ensure steady progress in the country.