Last week, we embarked on a journey of inspiration as we visited several skilling centers under the Presidential Initiative for Skilling the Girl/Boy Child in Kampala. This initiative, which began in 2017 with a focus on girls and expanded to include boys in 2019, is making a tangible impact on the lives of Uganda’s youth.
Youth unemployment has long been a critical concern in Uganda, despite ongoing government interventions led by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the skilling the girl/boy child project aligns seamlessly with President Museveni’s vision of propelling the masses toward socio-economic transformation. The core objectives are unequivocal: to empower vulnerable urban youth, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and marginalised communities, with skills that foster self-reliance, employability, wealth generation, and most notably, crime prevention.
Operating primarily within the five divisions of Kampala—Rubaga, Nakawa, Makindye, Kawempe, and Kampala Central—this initiative operates through nine strategically located skilling centers. These centers offer an extensive array of skills training, ranging from carpentry and shoemaking to electronics and bakery, among others.
The journey since inception has been nothing short of extraordinary, with over 35,728 students enrolled in various skills programs. Of these, an impressive 18,618 have successfully graduated, while approximately 16,797 eagerly await their graduation. Presently, more than 5,187 students are actively pursuing training at these centers.
The resounding success of this initiative can be attributed to a meticulously crafted methodology. These skilling centers are fully equipped and staffed with highly qualified instructors who provide comprehensive training. What sets this initiative apart is its robust collaboration with local leaders and the community, ensuring that eligible youth from the targeted areas are not only identified but also enrolled in the program.
The training is structured as a six-month semester-based program, culminating in certification through the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), a credential that not only validates the skills acquired but also opens doors to formal employment opportunities.
The Presidential Initiative for Skilling the Girl/Boy Child stands as a beacon of hope, offering a lifeline to Uganda’s youth who have grappled with limited opportunities. Beyond addressing unemployment, this initiative is playing a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s future. By empowering vulnerable urban youth with practical skills, it not only enhances their self-reliance but also contributes significantly to crime reduction and the creation of a more prosperous society.
What is perhaps even more inspiring is the diverse background of the trainees. Some have overcome challenging pasts, having been associated with city gangs, engaged in street life, or hailing from extremely vulnerable families. However, this initiative has given them a second chance, equipping them with valuable skills and redirecting their paths away from criminal activities.
As we celebrate the remarkable achievements of this initiative, it is imperative to acknowledge its significance and work collectively to expand its reach. By investing in the skills and potential of Uganda’s youth, this initiative seamlessly aligns with the broader national goals outlined in National Development Plan III and Vision 2040, striving for a modern, skilled, and prosperous Uganda.
The trainees’ newfound confidence and determination are evident upon interaction. They are ready to face the world with the skills they have acquired, confident that these skills will enable them to provide for themselves and even create employment opportunities for others. Some have already embarked on their entrepreneurial journeys, generating income from the skills they acquired even before leaving the centers.
During the week-long tour of the various skilling centers, which included Wandegeya, Wabigalo, Mulago, Kigowa, and more, trainees showcased their talents and the skills they’ve honed. These showcasing events were attended by a distinguished group of guests, including the Resident City Commissioner (RCC) of Kampala, Aminah Lukanga, Hon. David Bahati, Minister of State for Kampala, and Brig. Gen. Henry Isoke, Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, among others.
Local leaders and the management of the skilling project, led by Dr. Faith Katana, expressed heartfelt gratitude to the government for conceiving and implementing this transformative initiative. They emphasized that it has served as a lifeline for the youth of Uganda, offering hope where prospects were once limited.
The Presidential Initiative for Skilling the Girl/Boy Child is not merely a program; it is a testament to the transformational power of education and skills development. It exemplifies the potential to change individual destinies and, by extension, the trajectory of our beloved Uganda. This initiative is a beacon of hope, illuminating the path toward a brighter, more prosperous future for all.
As these students prepare to sit for their final Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) exams, we eagerly await their graduation, knowing that they represent a future of opportunity and progress for our nation. Another cohort is gearing up to begin their skilling journey in November this year, as Uganda continues to invest in its youth and their boundless potential. brighter, more prosperous future for all.
Communication Officer, GCIC – STATE HOUSE