KAMPALA — 8,480 girls graduated on Sunday September 8 under the Presidential Initiative of Skilling the Girl Child, in a ceremony that was presided over by President Yoweri Museveni at Kololo Independence grounds.
The program was launched in 2017 by the President with the main objective of equipping youthful girls with hands-on skills to enable them create jobs and generate wealth.
The program started with 700 girls enrolled in two centers; Wandegeya and Subway.
Currently the program is being implemented in 7 centers which include; Mutundwe located at church of Uganda, Ntinda at Kigowa Catholic Church, Nankulabye at our Lady of Fatina Catholic Church, Wandegeya market northern wing, Luzira at prison school, Subway between UBC TV and Crested Towers and the recent addition Katanga center.
As of today, over 15,000 girls have benefited from the program.
The girls are provided with lunch to cut down on cost and given certificates upon completion coupled with capital in form of cash and equipment depending on the course undertaken.
Each girl will be given UGX 1,000,000 as start-up capital.
The girls were skilled in different skills such as; knitting, weaving, embroidery, shoe-making, tailoring, hairdressing, banking and confectionery.
The girls will be awarded certificates and capital in form of cash and equipment depending on the course undertaken.
Graduands got skilled for 6 months between July 2018 and 2019. Bakery (836, 884), knitting (173, 195), hairdressing (1,184, 1,414), weaving (40, 46), tailoring (1,264, 1,404) and shoemaking (232, 280) and spouses trainees (Wives of Army officers) were (528).
Mr. Museveni implored the graduates to put the skills they have attained to good use to earn a living and also support their families.
In his opening remarks, he congratulated all the graduates and commended them for being steadfast and zealous in completing the course.
He further challenged them “needs give birth to businesses, research and find out where the gaps are and offer solutions. Why should we continue to import textiles when we have people skilled enough to make them? Now that we have empowered you with skills, your role now is to finish away the demand that we have in our country.”
He encouraged youths to settle down in the country and make the best of the available opportunities. He also warned against taking money out of the country.
“We have to retain money in Africa including Job, we shall continue supporting such programs such that we don’t take our money abroad and also create more jobs,” he said.
According to the president, skilling of the girl child is among many other initiatives which the NRM government has already put in place to address the problem of unemployment and poverty among youth; especially those who are vulnerable like young mothers and school dropouts that are unable to go for further studies due to various challenges.
Mr. Museveni also promised to fund the informal businesses in each district.
He reiterated plans of forming savings and Cooperative Organizations (SACCOS) in every district to cater to the various semi – skill – set to enable youth borrow money to support their projects at low-interest rates.
Hairdressers, tailors, shoemakers and other categories will have separate SACCOs to cater to their financial needs.
Currently skilling the girl child initiative has a SACCO that the girls are registered with to help them save and also borrow money for their businesses.
It is operated by a fully-fledged operational team who have been trained to fill these positions.
Most of these girls were in the first cohort that graduated.
“I’m very excited and happy to have finally completed the course, I intend to start up my own saloon in Ntinda and put these skills to use” a beaming Aguti Patricia one of the graduates revealed.
All that is required for a one to register is a national Identity card and recommendation letter from the local chairperson.
Currently, over 3000 girls are enrolled in the 7 centers.