KAMPALA. The West Nile Education Trust Fund, an initiative of the West Nile Foundation meant to resuscitate the faltering standards of education in the region has been launched with a resounding success. On the night of the launch the fund raised a staggering 400 million Uganda shillings.
The Education Trust Fund shall act as a vehicle for achieving one of the pillars of the Foundation which is to rejuvenate the education standards in the region.
Mr Caleb Alaka, the West Nile Foundation president listed some of the pillars as improved health, environmental sustenance, agriculture, information and communication technology, water and sanitation and financial inclusion.
Mr Charles Draecabo, the chairman of the Trust Fund said the initiative would provide sponsorship assistance to vulnerable students, fund education institutions to offer bursaries, provide student loan schemes and device means to improve the quality of performance in West Nile schools.
In laying out the vision for the Trust Fund, Mr Draecabo said the aim is to raise shs5bn to provide assistance to about 300 bright students from vulnerable backgrounds in the next five years.
Mr Asega Aliga, who is an investment banker and a Bolanle strategist and Chief Executive Officer of DMA Group said such investment would help the region to escape the challenge of being land locked and far from the centre of economic activity in Uganda.
“One of the things to recognise is that we are land locked and far from the centre where 68% of the Gross Domestic Product of Uganda is concentrated. One way to escape this bondage is through investment in education,” Aliga asserted.
Mr Aliga was delivering a key note address at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Friday, April 6 where some of the finest brains from West Nile Region gathered to witness the launch.
He said education, like poverty has no political leaning and should be embraced by all as an area in which the region could have a competitive advantage.
Mr Aliga said that inclusive development in West Nile should have education as a pillar but must also embrace the endowments of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, continuous improvement, innovation, creativity, abundance mentality and spiritual awareness to ensure holistic development of the human capital that the region needs to be able to compete.
In recognition of the geo-strategic location of West Nile, he emphasised the need for strategic planning to accelerate the region’s development through investment in intensive agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and logistics, information communication technology and entrepreneurship.
West Nile, he noted, has recorded success in education in areas of agriculture, human medicine, the legal profession and diplomacy among others that should be harnessed to drive forward the transformation of the region. He drew parallel with Malaysia’s regional development model of five economic zones urging the leaders of West Nile to build on the competitive advantages of West Nile while aligning with the national development plan to steer the region from poverty to prosperity.
He recommended that the region should adopt ways of developing long term cooperation with D R Congo and South Sudan, countries with which it has kinship ties and has had close relationships for a long time.
“As a matter of urgency, we need to come together and generate various causes similar to the West Nile Foundation underpinned by ideological leanings that foster transformation. There are many sons and daughters of West Nile in the diaspora who would like to contribute to the development of the region. We need to create communication and financial linkages in order to leverage their participation,” he advised.
But Mr Aliga said in order to successfully improve the quality of education, it is important to understand the education policy, address shortfalls in curriculum development, teacher training and infrastructure planning.
He said the region should draw inspiration from past successes of outstanding educationists like late Benon Obetia and Brig Barnabas Kili, who worked with the government at the time to promote education in West Nile.
Mr Aliga said owing to the background that West Nile is constituted by a community of sedimentary society that was majorly considered a labour reserve for the plantations of Southern and central Uganda and a source of manpower for the colonial army, education opportunities for the people from the region were difficult to come by but those insurmountable challenges did not stop the region from registering stand out successes in education sector.
Mr. Aliga who was also appointed the global ambassador for the West Nile Education Trust Fund to spearhead the fundraising effort globally set the pace by donating 50million shillings towards the cause. He promised to leverage his huge global contacts to achieve the 5billion shilling target.