Convergence of Information Technology in Ugandan Higher Education and Entrepreneurship: A Fulbright Scholar's Perspective

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The Fulbright program is an international exchange program for educators that is sponsored by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars in over 155 countries. This paper describes the process of obtaining and performing a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant project. The primary activities of the grant period are summarized and include conducting a needs assessment, evaluating curricula, conducting seminars and preparing a final report for faculty at the host institution in Uganda.

Keywords: Fulbright scholars program, Fulbright senior specialist, information technology education in Africa

BACKGROUND

The Fulbright program is an international exchange program for educators that is sponsored by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State and is administered by the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) in over 155 countries. There are several Fulbright programs that range in length from two weeks to a year.

A Fulbright grant is an unusual and gratifying method to gain experience in grant writing and international education. The experience also provides a means to further establish collaborative projects with the host institution.

The Fulbright Senior Specialists program provides short term grant opportunities that range in length from two to six weeks for U.S. faculty and professionals. Typically the Fulbright Senior Specialists collaborate with their international counterparts on scholarly activities such as curriculum and faculty development, institutional planning and giving lectures. Many academic disciplines are available and range from information technology and business to archaeology and urban planning. When a person applies and is selected, his/her name goes on a roster for up to five years and then the Fulbright staff tries to match the person with an overseas host institution. Some scholars are selected from the roster once or even twice while others may not be selected at all. Sometimes it is beneficial for the applicant, or "candidate," to have contacts in the country of interest. A candidate can serve for a maximum of two times during a five-year period. At least two years must elapse before a candidate is eligible for another specialist project.

After returning from a Fulbright assignment, the grantee must complete the final expense report and file a final report. A few months later the grantee normally receives a Certificate of Completion and becomes a member of the Fulbright alumni organization. The specialists are also encouraged to submit their story for possible posting on the CIES web site and to help publicize the program through conferences, journals and appropriate media.

This paper describes the process of acquiring a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant and the primary activities performed, which included conducting a needs assessment, evaluating curricula, conducting seminars and preparing a final report for faculty at the host institution.

AUTHOR APPLIES FOR FULBRIGHT SENIOR SPECIALIST PROGRAM

About three years prior and unbeknown to the Ugandan hosts, the author applied for the Fulbright Senior Specialist program; recently "Senior" has been dropped from the name. The lengthy application process consists of completing the on-line application, preparing a five page curriculum vita and obtaining at least three letters of recommendation. There are several rolling deadlines throughout the year. The review process can take up to a year before applicants are notified whether or not they have been accepted for the Fulbright Specialist roster. Once an applicant is accepted for the roster, s/he becomes a "candidate" for a Fulbright scholarship and remains on the list for five years. When an opportunity arises in the candidate's field - information technology in the case of the author - the candidate applies for that specific opportunity. …