May 18, 2024

70 scholarships up for grabs

By Titus Kakembo       

If you dropped out of school after Senior Four and would like to get skilled in a vocational course of your choice, here is an opportunity.

Busitema University and Stanbic Bank have developed a new scholarship scheme called the skills enhancement programme to train young people in vocational courses such as mechanics, bricklaying, baking, blacksmith and tailoring.

To benefit from this programme, you need to be a resident of Busia, Pallisa, Tororo, Soroti, Mbale and Kamuli districts, and not more than 35 years old. According to the university, the performance of the first cohort of 70 beneficiaries will inform the decision to continue running the programme. The bank will provide sh35m to train the pioneer cohort.

“The goal is to equip them (beneficiaries) with skills that are marketable and enable one to be self-employed,” Kenneth Agutamba, the head of communications at the bank, says. “The skill-equipped benefactors will automatically improve livelihoods of their localities,”

Applications forms are now available at the university office in Busia, its campuses in Arap in Soroti, Namasagali in Kamuli, Nagongera in Tororo, Kalakib in Palisa, Mbale and the university’s liaison office at Makerere University.

You will need to confirm your residence and age through a letter from your local council leader and a birth certificate respectively. You will also have to present your O’ level certificate and recent passport photos. If you are already enrolled on a programme at another institution, you are not eligible. The application deadline is July 29.

“This is a good gesture given that unemployed youth form a big percentage of our population,” Michael Egunyu, the former Soroti district chairman, says. “Skills transformation is key for growth and poverty reduction in eastern Uganda. This is expected to change mindsets and alter growth models,”

The former Mbale district chairman and now a senior presidential advisor on Elgon region affairs, Benard Mujasi, notes that the scholarship scheme might help contribute to reducing unemployment and poverty in a region endowed with various tourism attractions.

Some of the tourist attractions in the region include the source of the River Nile, Kagulu rock, Mount Elgon, Nyero rock paintings, and Sipi falls. The region’s cultural diversity presents tourism opportunities as well.

Amos Wekesa, the chief executive officer of Great Lakes Safaris, a tour operator, says there are also opportunities in commercial agriculture and agro-processing as well in the eastern region. Bugisu, which is part of the region, is traditionally known for coffee production.

“This combined with ox-ploughing in Teso can make agro-tourism a product that cannot be ignored economically,” Wekesa adds.

Jane Naguna, a resident in Mbale, says she intends to apply for the scholarship to get skilled in either bricklaying or catering. “There is no bad job as long as it puts bread on your table,” she notes.   John Ariko, who completed his O’ level recently in Jinja, says he is eager to learn a skill under this scholarship scheme, which might transform his life.

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