President Yoweri Museveni commended the Kingdom of Buganda for joining the government's efforts to fight poverty and create wealth through developmental initiatives such as Parish Development Model (PDM), Presidential Zonal Industrial Hubs and Emyooga.
Speaking at the ceremony shortly after commissioning the Presidential Skilling Industrial Hub for Greater Masaka sub-region at Ndegeya Village in Masaka city on Wednesday, the President revealed that the former Kabaka of Buganda, Sir Edward Muteesa II was his very good friend and he was happy to note that even the current kingdom leadership has maintained the good and strong ties with the central government.
He said the kingdom has immensely contributed to the development of Uganda by taking part in the Central government's efforts of transforming the country socially and economically. The President also thanked the Katikkiro of Buganda Charles Peter Mayiga for his recent physical attendance when the government was launching the Presidential Industrial Hub in Masaka, saying it was a way to go as far as promoting wealth creation in the country is concerned.
The President also rallied Ugandans to support his free education policy which he started in 1996, saying, the continuous extortion of fees and other school charges in government schools continues to not only complicate school learning but also lock many out of education. He expressed disappointment that people in government are not bothered as government schools extort money from children.
“The challenge here are the people we work with in the government (District Officials, Members of Parliament, etc,) that are sabotaging our programs. What I’m doing here, we already started it a long time ago to have children of the poor study for free,” the President said.
Greater Masaka Industrial Skilling Center, which is part of the 19 countrywide, offers free vocational training to the youth aged 18-35 drawn from the nine districts that make up the greater Masaka sub-region and Masaka city.
The courses offered include among others; Tailoring, Hairdressing, Bricklaying, Carpentry and joinery, Craftsmanship, Metal Fabrication, Food processing and Bakery. Upon completing the training, trainees obtain Level One Certificate of Uganda Vocational Qualifications, under the Directorate of Industrial Training, Ministry of Education and Sports and are ready to be self-employed.
“I want to show these people that it’s very possible for the government to support children of the poor to study, get what to do and sustain themselves,” Museveni said, adding that “What we are doing here is what should have been done in the primary schools of the government and the secondary schools,” he emphasized.
The President informed the gathering that the government is going to re-emphasize the policy of having government primary schools at every parish and a government secondary school per sub-county across the country. “What we want is to make education affordable,” Museveni said.
He hailed the former State House Comptroller Lucy Nakyobe who started the Presidential skilling hubs (for igniting the fire) and the current one, Jane Barekye, for progressing so well (keeping the fire burning), adding that with time more vocational courses such as leather technology for children to learn how to make shoes, car seat covers etc., will be included.
“I want our children to manufacture what Uganda has been importing. We are jobless because we give out jobs to foreigners," Museveni said, adding that plans are underway to increase the number of children per intake from the current 204.
Barekye informed the gathering the objective of the skilling hubs is to among others eliminate unemployment among the youth and change the economic statutes of people who never had a chance to attain formal education. She added that in the meantime, students who have graduated should continue having access to the skilling center especially when they get income opportunities.
“They can still come here, make their carpentry and welding work (beds, doors, widows), etc., and sell them anywhere without paying rent or power costs,” Barekye noted. She asked the business community to employ their learners once they graduate.
“Because they will come to you looking for jobs, since you’ve seen how we train them properly, please be ready to give them jobs,” Barekye said.
The Vice President Maj. (Rtd). Jessica Alupo Rose Epel thanked President Museveni for the initiative to establish 19 Industrial hubs across the country and congratulated him upon commissioning the one of Greater Masaka. She called upon the people of Greater Masaka to develop the capacity of their companies to the level where they can handle big contracts from the government.