President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has pledged to offer startup capital to the beneficiaries of the Presidential Initiative on Skilling the Girl and Boy Child (PISGBC) project.
“I want to assure you that we are going to give you start-up capital,” President Museveni assured.
The President made the remarks today while officiating at the 4th graduation ceremony of 16,797 beneficiaries of PISGBC project from different cohorts starting from 2021 to 2023 at Kololo Independence Grounds.
In 2017, President Museveni initiated the project with an aim of empowering underprivileged youth in Kampala through skilling. Since inception, 35,728 students have enrolled in the project.
The President however told the graduates that through the government, he will only be able to support them when they agree to work in groups, not individually.
“It will be challenging to support you individually; therefore, you should form groups as we help you altogether. You have to work together,” President Museveni emphasized.
H.E Museveni further disclosed that the government is going to expand the program so that other skilling disciplines like ceramic making are added into the initiative.
“I do not see the ceramics because that activity has been here since time immemorial, even paper making, we are going to add them,” he noted.
President Museveni also explained that he decided to initiate the skilling program to wake up the young people and make them able to make money from satisfying human needs like shelter, clothing, among others.
“The biggest problem we have in Africa is disorientation. You find that everything they are using is imported. You find people buying furniture from Dubai- a desert, that is a curse,” the President said.
President Museveni also reiterated his warning to government school head teachers and other education stakeholders against frustrating the government’s move of extending free education to young Ugandans through universal education.
“We have a challenge of those people who don’t want our children to study for free under universal education. The Head teachers are charging the poor Ugandans money to access education in government schools. We are opening a serious war on those people who are frustrating programs that would help Ugandans.”
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Maama Janet Museveni expressed gratitude to President Museveni for the concern he exhibits towards the young generation and offers them an opportunity to improve their livelihoods through skilling.
“The project has gone a long way to giving our young people a new hope,” she said.
The First Lady also congratulated the students upon their graduation and urged them to embrace digital technology to leverage their entrepreneurship gains.
“Invest in your character development and don’t let bad elements lure you back into bad practices. As you go out, exhibit exemplary conduct and moral uprightness so that people can appreciate you,” Maama Janet added.
She also extended sincere appreciation to the State House Comptroller and other PISGBC stakeholders for ensuring the success of the projects.
The Minister of Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Hajjat Minsa Kabanda revealed that due to the project, the crime rate in Kampala drastically went down, explaining that most of the criminal cases were orchestrated by the now reformed youth who have benefited from the initiative.
She also revealed that Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has already allocated land in Kamwokya for the skills project.
On her part, the State House Comptroller, Ms. Jane Barekye commended President Museveni for initiating the project that has helped to alleviate poverty among the youth.
She also informed the President that the PISGBC recruitment process is a transparent one, which runs on a basis of “First Come, First Serve” as long as the person is between 18 and 35 years of age irrespective of their gender or education background.
“The project targets the vulnerable ghetto youths both girls and boys from the five divisions of Kampala,” Ms. Barekye said.
Ms. Barekye was also happy to note that the project has already achieved the objective of curbing unemployment among Ugandans since it employs over 800 direct employees and more than 1,000 people indirectly.
“The project has created job makers instead of job hunters. After training these people by equipping them with skills, they go ahead to create their own jobs instead of loitering around the streets of Kampala,” she added.
“The project also promotes value addition. The beneficiaries are able to change raw materials into finished products.”
Ms. Barekye also informed the President that the project has aided in curbing criminality in Kampala.
“We understand that most of these young people were involved in criminal activities but we don’t stop at skilling them, we also do mindset change so by the time they leave the centers, they are reformed and good citizens.”
The Special Presidential Assistant on Education and Skilling who also serves as the Project Head, Dr. Faith Katana Mirembe assured President Museveni that as project managers, they are committed to interpret and materialize his dream of adding value to Ugandan raw materials.
“We are committed to stop the importation of goods that we can produce in Uganda,” Dr. Katana said.
“We thank you, Your Excellency, you have made these students, given them Identity, they are now full of confidence, they are now job creators not job seekers due to the skills they have acquired. You have touched many families through this project.”
Meanwhile, the beneficiaries are trained for six months free of charge and at the end of the course, students do an assessment exam and are rewarded with certificates by the Directorate of industrial training (DIT).
The centers offer different skilling disciplines such as carpentry, tailoring shoemaking, weaving, embroidery, plumbing, construction, knitting, electronics, electric installations, bakery and confectionery, hairdressing and make-up, motor mechanics, and metal fabrication.
Currently, the program is being implemented in nine (9) centers which include; Wandegeya Market, Mulago Community Hall, Mutundwe-All Saints Church of Uganda and Nakulabye-Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church.
Other centres include Luzira at Luzira Prisons, Subway-Crested Towers roundabout, Wabigalo– Wabigalo Parish Community Hall, Kigoowa-Ntinda, Butikirwa Parish Catholic Church, and KikoniMakerere Community Hall. The centers are spread across the five (5) divisions of Kampala: – Kawempe, Rubaga, Makindye, Nakawa and Kampala Central.
The event was also attended by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, Presidency Minister Hon. Babirye Milly Babalanda, Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Industry), Hon. David Bahati, Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Trade), Hon. Harriet Ntabazi, Members of Parliament, the Director of DIT, Dr. Patrick Byakatonda, among others.