By A. Vincent Senyunja
“Cooperatives are an old idea but more relevant than ever as they can be the drivers of a sustainable future,” the Minister for Education and Sports, Ms. Janet Kataha Museveni has said in a speech read for her by Mr. Robert Odok Ocheng, the Director for Higher Technical Vocational Education Training (HTVET).
This was during the 24th graduation ceremony of the Uganda Cooperative College, in Kigumba (mid-western Uganda), on 23 November 2018. She urged local governments to create an enabling environment for cooperatives to thrive.
Ms. Museveni who is also Uganda’s First Lady argues that based on their potential, cooperatives increase vibrancy in economic activities, especially in the agriculture sector.
At least 572 students graduated with certificates and diplomas in cooperative and business administration, SACCO and microfinance management, project planning and entrepreneurship and cooperative leadership for change.
Ms. Museveni also commended the Uganda Cooperative College, Kigumba for keeping the standards high as well as eliminating exam malpractices throughout the entire process.
The First Lady also challenged the graduates to make use of the skills they have acquired from the college for the development of the economy. She further challenged political, religious and cultural leaders and the public in Bunyoro region to embrace institutions that have been established in Bunyoro, particularly the Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba. She encouraged them to develop the skills of their children, so that they can compete favorably in the growing oil industry.
The First Lady urged the graduands to upgrade to other levels since the country is in a competitive era, adding that most students think acquiring certificates or diplomas is the education climax.
She also urged other education institutions to ensure that the skills they impart in students are directed towards the available and potential employment opportunities in the growing public and private sectors of the economy. She said the teaching skills have to change from the traditional lecturing to the use of a range of teaching methods.
In her speech, the First Lady assured the people of Bunyoro that government has finalized plans to construct a public university in Kigumba, Kiryandongo district.
The Executive Secretary, Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board, Mr. Onesmus Oyesigye commended the Uganda Cooperative College for keeping the standards and always producing quality and skilled students that have helped cooperatives and SACCOs in Uganda to grow.
Mr. Oyesigye challenged the graduates to always be disciplined in the field. He cautioned them against engaging in corruption tendencies, noting that many SACCOs and Cooperatives have collapsed due to corruption.
The Principal of the college, Mr. Samuel Kyaligonza said they have given all the necessary skills and ethical values to the students.
“We have given you all the relevant skills and values. It is now your role to contribute to the economy by putting into practice what you have learnt,” Mr. Kyaligonza said.
He, however, asked government to renovate the college structures saying they have taken 50 years without any renovation. He also appealed to government to recruit more staff, as the college is understaffed with only 29 of the available 82 lecturers on the government pay roll.
Mr. Kyaligonza asked government to increase funding to the college. He said they only receive 200 million shillings as capitation grant which he noted that is little compared to the college enrollment figure of 450 students.
Students from this college, the only one in the country, are absorbed in the department of cooperative development in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the cooperative movement, the micro-finance sub-sector and private sector.