President Museveni’s Initiative Transforms Karamoja Youth: Vocational Training Graduates Laud Program

At the second graduation ceremony in Napak, 423 students graduated in vocational disciplines. Minister Lokeris highlights the President's goal of lifting youth out of poverty by providing skills training.

Hon. Peter Lokeris, Minister for Karamoja Affairs, has praised President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for his efforts to combat youth unemployment through initiatives such as the Presidential Industrial Zonal Hubs Initiative.

Currently, there are 19 Industrial Zonal Hubs around the country.

“Our President thinks for all Ugandans. He even set up a special initiative to help Karamoja catch up because it was falling behind,” he assured.

The Minister delivered the remarks today as the Chief Guest at the second graduation ceremony for 423 students who successfully finished their vocational training at Napak Presidential Industrial Skilling Hub in Napak District.

The graduates, who represent a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences from the nine districts such as Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Kotido, Karenga, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Kaabong, and the two municipalities of Moroto and Kotido in the Karamoja region, were awarded certificates in seven (7) employable vocational disciplines, namely: tailoring and design, hairdressing and makeup, building and construction practice, carpentry and joinery, welding and metal fabrications.

Hon. Lokeris noted that President Museveni began the skilling initiative with the primary goal of combating poverty among Ugandan youth.

“The President came up with the notion of training the youth to become proficient in order to avoid being redundant. The goal was to organize the youth into groups so that they could learn skills regardless of their educational status. “All of this is to lift you out of poverty and improve your livelihoods,” the Minister stated.

The Minister also praised His Excellency the President’s ambitious and strategic plan to train uneducated youth, which he claimed had significantly increased the number of skilled workers in Karamoja and across the country.

“individuals said there weren’t enough skilled individuals here to build houses, but you now have construction skills. When I was still minister in charge of roads, no Karamojong were hired in the construction of the Soroti-Moroto route. Those engineers told me that a handful of the people they hired never returned after receiving payment. This will now come to an end because you are qualified and know what you are doing professionally. This president of yours is very concerned about you,” Minister Lokeris stated.

He also promised the graduates that with the skills they had learned, they would be able to find work and earn a livelihood.

“When you start a business and it succeeds, you will be able to pay taxes to help the country grow. We’ve informed individuals that this type of endeavor is for everyone. The good news is that it is not limited to highly educated individuals; even those who have not attended school are shown what to do and can complete it. It makes no difference whether you speak English or not; English is simply a language. They will look for you since the positions are available to you. Hon. Lokeris stated that the talent you have developed is a job in itself.

Ms. Jane Barekye, the State House Comptroller, congratulated the graduates on reaching this significant milestone.

“I’d want to thank the Ministry of Education, led by Maama Janet Museveni, for allowing us the opportunity to get our certificate legalised by the Directorate of Industrial Training. “This is a heavy certificate that can take you to levels up to a Ph.D.,” Ms. Barekye explained.

She thanked the Ministry of Local Government for donating land for the Industrial Hub project to establish the facility and meet the program’s aims.

Ms. Barekye also complimented the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) for changing the recipients’ perspective while they were studying at the center.

On the other hand, the State House Comptroller reaffirmed why the President launched the skill-building program. She stated that it was one of President Museveni’s economic interventions with the goal of reducing unemployment among youth, both educated and uneducated, turning more youth into job creators rather than job seekers, closing the employment-unemployment gap, increasing household incomes, substituting imports, and promoting exports.

“He has achieved all of those objectives based on the testimonies you have heard from here,” Ms. Barekye informed the Minister.

“As State House, we have a plan which is awaiting approval of the finances by the President of starting a common user facility in some of the districts of the region so that when these people finish, they can go work from there as a group, get some capital from their savings and go start their own businesses to earn a living,” she went on to say.

Ms. Barekye also urged Karamoja authorities to make it a policy for non-governmental groups to hire graduates for any employment in the region. She claims that this will enable skilled teenagers to put their abilities into practice.

“He has achieved all of those objectives based on the testimonies you have heard from here,” Ms. Barekye informed the Minister.

“As State House, we have a plan which is awaiting approval of the finances by the President of starting a common user facility in some of the districts of the region so that when these people finish, they can go work from there as a group, get some capital from their savings and go start their own businesses to earn a living,” she went on to say.

Ms. Barekye also urged Karamoja authorities to make it a policy for non-governmental groups to hire graduates for any employment in the region. She claims that this will enable skilled teenagers to put their abilities into practice.

Mr. John Paul Kodet, the Napak District LCV Chairperson, revealed that when the program first began, the turnout was too low because the majority of would-be beneficiaries were afraid to join due to insecurity in the area; however, thanks to the UPDF’s efforts, the region was pacified and peace was declared, resulting in a large number of beneficiaries in the second and third intakes.

“This is why we were able to register 204 students in the second intake and 219 in the third intake. We are gradually moving forward. I’d like to congratulate Maj Gen. Don Nabasa, Commander of the UPDF 3rd Division, for restoring peace and sanity in the subregion, allowing pupils to continue learning,” he stated.

He recommended the graduates to put their gained abilities to good use so that they may benefit from them.

Maj. Gen. Don Nabasa, commander of the UPDF 3rd Division, commended President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for his direction and wisdom in launching the skilling program to empower the youth.

“The majority of these individuals had lost hope and dropped out of school. Some of them were potential warriors who were about to join the other work so that they could earn some money. But after being here, they are totally different people, which I attribute to the fantastic plan set in place by our Commander in Chief and overseen by the State House Comptroller and her team. “Thank you so much for your wonderful work,” he said.

“They are really serious citizens of our country. They have learned a skill that will allow them to make a living.

Mr. Patrick Byakatonda, Director of the Directorate of Industrial Training, assured the graduates that their certificates are widely recognized and equivalent to S.4 certifications.

“The qualification which you have got is a highly recognised qualification.”

Mr. Charles Lotiang, the hub manager, thanked the State House Comptroller and her staff for providing all of the resources required to conduct the hub’s day-to-day operations.

However, Mr. Lotyang recommended that the government establish a specific fund program to assist graduates with start-up funding.

Several graduates who are now employed thanked President Museveni for providing them with information that has allowed them to earn a living.

Losike Francis, a Nabilatuk native, told the audience that after learning how to build and construct, he barely spent two days at home before being recruited to work for a specific construction company in Moroto. “I thank H.E the President for giving us this opportunity to be here,” he went on to say.

Abu Rebecca from Kotido Municipality stated that the hairdressing and make-up course had transformed her life.

“When I first came here, I knew nothing, but after the training, I began plaiting my friends’ hair at home. Some lady became interested in my work and hired me in her large saloon. Rebecca stated, “I’m glad I can now support myself and my parents.”

Okot Thomas Ariong of Kotido learned carpentry and joinery: When I first got here, I had no hope, but I’ve learned a few things. I really applaud the administration for this initiative. I am an orphan, but because of my skills, I am able to pay my sister’s school tuition. “God bless President Museveni,” Okot Thomas stated.

The celebration was also attended by Karamoja district leaders, LC5 chairpersons, security personnel, youth leaders, and parents.

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