The Community Based Education (CBE) approach first emerged during the 1970’s in response to population demand for need based education. At the core of CBE was a paradigm shift away from viewing universities as ivory towers. Contextually, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) at it inception in 1989 embraced CBE as the philosophy for health professions’ education within the Faculty of Medicine. Progressively, CBE has been adopted across all Medical Schools in Uganda.
The purpose was to establish a curriculum which would facilitate the interaction between the local communities, University lecturers and students, to make them more directed towards the prevailing and emerging needs within Uganda and beyond. MUST continues to tailor its curriculum towards the emerging health and health care needs and demands.
From the 1990s to 2009 the CBE model laid emphasis on service learning, represented in the acronym COBERS (Community Based Education and Service). During 2010, there was curriculum review that incorporated aspects of leadership and put more emphasis on research. Coincidentally all the medical schools in Uganda chose to come together under the MEPI-MESAU consortium in order to build synergy in addressing the prevailing health and healthcare bottlenecks in the county using an educational approach. It was agreed that guided by the core MESAU competencies and the demand for evidence-based practice research becomes mainstreamed into the service learning agendas leading to the emergence of COBERS (Community Based Education Research and Service).
By Gad Ruzaaza Ndaruhutse, Program Coordinator.