Way back, education was believed to be for only the privileged few and it was only meant for the few. School going students and pupils had to part with money in the form of School fees that were really high.
Thanks to the Government of Uganda which later on introduced Universal Primary Education (UPE) program in 1997.The program would later improve enrollment and attainment in primary schools. It was initially realized to provide free education for four children per family, but the program was not performing based on its regulations due to the complex structure of Ugandan families, hence was opened up for every primary going child.
That was quite a relief to parents who could not afford to pay fees for their children, but how long could they go? Well, many would not proceed to the next level since it involved fees still and much higher than in Primary.
The Government later on thought it necessary to address that challenge as well and introduced Universal Secondary Education (USE) to help support the less privileged to study in Government schools.
A one Michael Zziwa met up with Kampala Sqoop’s Benjamen Emuk and narrated his ordeal story where he disclosed his Education background.
Zziwa struggled with his education right from Primary, but according to him, he met his luck after completing his Primary seven.
At St. Cecilia Buyamba in Rakai District, Zziwa scored 4 aggregates and he disclosed that he wasn’t even happy because he didn’t know what he would do next since he struggled enough to attain the primary education.
Zziwa recalls looking for jobs so as to raise funds for his secondary education but all he was able to find was loading and off-loading beer trucks at a depo in Kyotera where he could make Shs5,000 after loading and off-loading about 4 to five trucks a day with 3-4 of his colleagues.
On one fateful day,Zziwa recalls filling and offloading over 5 trucks of beer with only one of his colleagues and it is the money that day he was thinking of topping to pay for his S1 but thanks to the good news he received from his school.
Zziwa got a call from his former school where he was told he had won a scholarship to study at a school of his choice.
Zziwa couldn’t believe it when he was told Nile Breweries was to pay all his school expenses and was later asked to choose which school he would love to go to. “Everything felt like a joke, I felt I was in a very sweet dream and wanted to wake up from it,” said Zziwa.
He finally attended Namilyango College for both his O’ Level and A’Level scoring 13 aggregates and 13 points respectively.
Zziwa is now in his second year doing Software Engineering at Makerere University Kampala. Zziwa and other beneficiaries could not hide their excitement and applauded NBL for the huge offer while the company announced last week and handed Shs80 Million to university students under its Equality Scholarship programme.
“The money will go towards the 2021 tuition and welfare expenses for 30 of our Equality scholarship students currently attending different universities in Uganda,” said David Valencia, NBL Country Director.
“This is in Iine with our commitment to contribute to a positive impact in society especially through our CSR initiatives such as this Equality Scholarship. The Equality Scholarship enables us not only to give back to communities and also empower them,” he added.
The annual scholarship programme has since 2011 benefited the best PLE performing pupils in selected districts, largely in areas that grow sorghum and barley for NBL. These include Budaka, Bukedea, Buikwe, Bundibugyo, Dokolo, Hoima, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kamuli, Kanungu, Katakwi, Kiryandongo, Kisoro, Kitgum, Kween, Lira, Mubende, Nebbi, Ngora, Ntungamo, Oyam, Soroti and Zombo. The students are supported from Senior One until university, with the currently enrolled students costing the company Shs300M a year and approximately Shs3 Bn to complete their undergraduate studies.
“In recognising the catalytic role of education in promoting human security, Nile Breweries has been providing support to the education sector for many years through this Equality Scholarship,” said Ms Mercy Mugoowa, Principal Education Officer, Higher Education, Admissions & Scholarships.
“While major progress has been made by the international community since 2000, challenges remain, such as quality of learning, inequalities in education and growing youth unemployment,” she added. Ms Mugoowa who was representing the Commission Higher Education Ms Jolly Uzamukunda at the event.
“The selected pupils are enrolled in the elite Ugandan secondary schools, thus breaking the financial barrier between poor rural farmers’ children and their counterparts from privileged urban families,” said Onapito-Ekomoloit, the NBL Legal & Corporate Affairs Director.
“It is why we call it the Equality scholarship,” he added.
According to Mugoowa, in recent years, diverse stakeholders have been actively engaged in discussions and efforts to support countries in developing and implementing effective policies towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, also known as Education 2030.
Working in partnership with schools, NBL scholarships have helped to educate 72 students from vulnerable backgrounds who are gifted, with 30 already in university. “We are proud that 3 of the pioneer students will be graduating next month from Makerere University while 1 has already graduated from Lira University,” revealed Onapito. “It takes a village to raise a child, and NBL is proud to be part of this village. Like Nelson Mandela said, Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” he added.
Associate Professor Josephine Nabukenya, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and administration) Makerere University congratulated the graduates and re-echoed the need for equitable education, particularly gender equality. 14 of the beneficiaries study at Makerere University.
“It is gratifying to learn that three (3) of the four (4) females in the cohort of continuing students at Makerere University are pursuing STEM-based programmes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” she said.
The University Council during its 147th Meeting held in August 2019 approved the Affirmative Action Policy providing for a 40 percent enrolment quota for female students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Other universities where students are enrolled include Soroti University, Lira University, Ndejje University, Kampala International University, Busitema University, Kyambogo University, Kyambogo University, University of Oran1Algeria among others.
Partner schools include Gayaza High School, Mt St Mary’s Namagunga, Nabisunsa Girls School, Uganda Martyrs Namugongo, St Mary’s Kitende, Seeta High School, Kings College Budo, Ntare School, Seeta High School and St Marys’ College Kisubi.
Given its role as a major player in Uganda’s economy and therefore community, NBL’s mandate is to bring people together for a Better World.