Uganda’s First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni, has made a request to skilling centers, urging them not to overlook boy children. She emphasized the importance of a balanced approach during her speech at the fourth graduation ceremony for over 16,000 beneficiaries of the presidential skilling program at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala last Friday.
Initially, the presidential program primarily focused on empowering the girl child. However, it has now incorporated boys as well. Mrs. Museveni considers this inclusion a significant step towards achieving the program’s vision of a modern, skilled, and prosperous Uganda.
She stated, “I would like to remind all meaningful Ugandans to take a balanced approach and ensure that girl-centered affirmative action does not neglect the boy child, who likewise, requires opportunities through skilling and self-reliance.” Mrs. Museveni believes that including boys can help eliminate gender discrimination across Ugandan society, and she stressed the importance of avoiding the promotion of one gender at the expense of the other.
A total of 16,797 students graduated with various skill sets, including construction, plumbing, hairdressing, confectionery, and motor mechanics. The First Lady, accompanied by President Yoweri Museveni, presided over the ceremony. She encouraged the graduates to prioritize character development, emphasizing that skills and abilities can lead to success, but it is good character that sustains it. She urged them to maintain integrity, especially when no one is watching, and to exhibit exemplary conduct in their skills and personalities.
President Museveni addressed Africa’s challenge of excessive importation, stating, “You find that everything they are using is imported. It is a big curse for Africans to import clothes, shoes, chairs, etc. Therefore, what our skilling program is doing is to wake up these young people to say ‘You can make money from satisfying human needs; need for food, clothing, shelter, transport, and all those are needs that you can fulfill, and in the process, you get income for yourself.’”
The State House, under President Museveni’s directive, has been offering free training to young people under this initiative for the past six years, starting in 2017. The program began with a pioneer cohort of 850, aiming to empower underprivileged girls with basic skills in various fields. Upon completing the six-month course, trainees undergo an assessment exam set by the Directorate of Industrial Training and receive certificates upon graduation.