If all goes well, the Uganda Management Institute (UMI) will become the first training institution in Uganda to obtain the International Organization for Standardization (IS0) certification for education. It will also become the first public training institution in the East African region to obtain the standard.
Apparently, there is only one training institution in the entire region (found in Rwanda) which recently obtained ISO certification for education institutions.The standard, which is expected to be confirmed in December 2018, will qualify all certificates and other awards from UMI to be equated to international institutions.
This implies that if one graduates at UMI, the academic documents obtained from the institute will be equated to those of Harvard University (US), University of Cambridge (UK) or University of Oxford (UK). UMI specializes in post-graduate courses with the exception of diploma in records and information management.
Peter Kibazo, the head of communications at UMI, told New Vision that the processes for the ISO certification had been going on and that it was in the final stages. “We are optimistic that by next year, we will be the only public training institution in East Africa to have an ISO quality framework,” he said. Kibazo made the remarks yesterday during an interview at UMI in Kampala. He said graduates from UMI would not be required to retrain in some countries before getting a job like it has been the trend with most Ugandans. “For instance, to get a job in the US or UK, most professionals trained in Uganda are required to retrain for between nine months and one year to get the job,” he added.
About two years ago, UMI applied to obtain the ISO certification with the aim of shaping and improving postgraduate training in the country. The move was also intended to connect it to other global higher institutions of learning. According to the ISO online portal, an institution must have modern equipment, lecture rooms and programmes. The other requirements include a modern ICT facility with the capacity to conduct several video conferences for lectures and with 85% of its staff as PhD holders. The guidelines are intended for organisations at all levels, providing all types of education, including elementary, medium and higher; special and adult education, distance and e-learning. Currently, UMI has 23 PhD holders as part of the teaching staff and 23 others in the final stages of training to obtain PhDs. “We have spent about sh5b on training our staff so that they obtain PhDs. We have to meet the standards set by ISO,” he said. Kibazo said it would cost about $40,000 (about sh150m) to obtain the ISO certification, adding: “We have spent approximately sh500m on this entire process.” As part of the process, ISO has been sending a team of experts to UMI to inspect and also establish whether they are meeting the requirements.
Recently, UMI embarked on improvement and construction of new lecture blocks and laboratories to improve learning to international standards. The institution is undertaking the infrastructural developments in three phases, where the first building was recently completed and handed to the institution. The Government obtained a sh7.2b grant from the African Development Bank (ADB) under the Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) programme to complete the new UMI building.
Dr Rose Kwatampora Oguttu, the head of projects at UMI, said the five-storey building would be equipped with better furniture and modern ICT facilities to improve training. “We thank President Yoweri Museveni for availing funds to construct the new building,” she said. Under the second phase expected to start next year and be completed within two years, UMI will construct a 14-storey building, which will be equipped with modern facilities. It is estimated to cost about sh60b.
In the last phase expected to end in 2023, UMI will construct a structure for social welfare and it will have massage, gym, sauna and steam bath facilities for students. “Most of our clients (students) are employed and the biggest numbers is from corporate companies. They need health facilities to work on their bodies,” she said. With the increasing number of foreign students, Kwatampora said they need social facilities at UMI. “We have students from Canada, US and the UK among others. It is important to have these facilities around,” she said. Kwatampora added that all the infrastructural developments were geared towards improving the status of the institution and obtaining an ISO certification.
Kibazo said once the standard is obtained, UMI has to maintain the global status by improving training and its infrastructure. With such social facilities, Kibazo explained that the ultimate goal was to widen their sources of revenues and reduce on Government dependence. “We have to increase internally generated resources and this will reduce on dependence,” he said.
It is nearly 50 years since UMI, formerly Institute of Public Administration (IPA) was opened. It was set up on October 7, 1969 with the mandate to conduct intensive in-service training to quickly develop management capacity in the public service. Whereas it opened from inception as a department under the public service ministry, it became semiautonomous in 1992, following the enactment of the Uganda Management Institute Statute. The institute later became corporate under the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001, which made it open to all scholars including those from the private sector.
This is so because the institute also serves as the national documentation centre, where all government documents, policies, laws and regulations are archived. “This compelled us to have a course in records keeping and it is the only undergraduate course here,” Kibazo said. He added that they have a mission to excel in developing practical and sustainable administration, leadership and management capacity.
UMI is structured into four specialised but complementary schools and three regional study branches in Mbarara, Gulu and Mbale. They include the School of Civil Services, Public Administration and Governance, School of Business, Productivity and Competitiveness, School for Distance Learning and Information Technology and School of Management Sciences.