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Youth Participation key to shaping Uganda’s Political Destiny

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The spirit of academic debate was once again rekindled in the Main Hall on 17th November 2015 as Youth from Ugandan Universities gathered to attend a panel discussion organized by the University Forum on Governance (UNIFOG) and International Republic Institute (IRI). Based on the theme Youth Participation in Political Processes: Constraints and Opportunities, the panel discussion was graced by Mr. Tom Malinowski, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, who also made remarks on Uganda’s key regional role and the US position on foreign elections.

Welcoming participants and panelists to the event, the Director, UNIFOG and also the day’s moderator Mr. Yusuf Kiranda observed that despite constituting nearly half the registered voters, the youth had still failed to make a meaningful and sustainable impact on politics and governance processes. “As young people, we have to use every forum, platform and opportunity to organize ourselves and voice out systematically and structurally what we think are the ideas that we need the political process to respond to” he noted.

In his remarks, The Assistant Secretary of State appreciated Uganda’s role in maintaining regional peace by sending forces to fight Al Shabaab in Somalia as well as protect civilians in three countries from LRA insurgents. He further emphasized the role of good governance in the advancement of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Uganda, especially in the run-up to the upcoming elections.

“The United States doesn’t take sides in foreign elections; we have no favorite parties or people. But we do take a stand when it comes to the process,” said Mr. Malinowski. He expressed hope that healthy competition would pave the way for a free and fair election in the form of a free press, respect for freedom of assembly, as well as an impartial military and police force. “We want to see everyone’s voice heard and everyone’s vote to count. The only outcome we want to see is one that Ugandans will believe in” he added.

Mr. Tom Malinowski (C) takes questions from the audience after delivering his remarks on 17th November 2015

Mr. Malinowski noted that despite meeting Ugandan youth who had lost faith in the political process, he hoped that all those gathered would take advantage of their large numbers. He noted that this statistical fact presented youth with the perfect opportunity to guarantee that candidates addressed issues that impacted their welfare. With regard to conduct, he urged them to consider the example of Ghanaian youth who played a major role in ensuring that supporters of two rival camps remained calm during the closely contested presidential election of 2008. He however warned that elections are not everything, but life ought to go on after the polls.

“Elections aren’t everything.  A ballot, alone, cannot give you justice or a job.  But it can give you a say.  So I hope you will take part.  I hope some of you will run for office, if not now, then someday.  If you do, I hope you will play by the rules even if others don’t; that you will listen to your opponents with respect even if they are disrespectful,” advised Mr. Malinowski.

The Assistant Secretary of State then took part in an interactive session where members of the audience raised questions ranging from what the US position would be should the 2016 election outcome be negative, what strategies was the US offering to shape aspirations of politically ambitious youth, and measures to effectively monitor polls using election observers. In his response, Mr. Malinowski reiterated that the role of the US was to promote good election outcomes and not predict any negative ones. He expressed hope that Ugandan leaders at all levels would realize that it is in their best interest to participate in chaos-free elections. He urged the youth to make the most of social media platforms to learn of the best political practices from all corners of the globe, and urged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to continue nurturing the youth on the role of good governance. He decried the direct involvement of the armed forces in elections and offered to use the remaining days of his visit to further dialogue with their leadership.

Mr. Yusuf Kiranda (C) with panelists Ms. Helena Okiring, Ms. Loyola Karobwa, Mr. Micheal Mugisha, Mr. Jacob Eyeru and Ms. Isabella Akiteng discuss youth participation in Ugandan politics
Part of the motivation for the day’s debate was to contribute towards the attainment of structural change whereby the voices of young men and women count in the governance and decision making processes. To help shape the discussion; Mr. Jacob Eyeru-A Student Leader, Ms. Helena Okiring-A Youth and Gender Activist, Mr. Micheal Mugisha-An Assistant Lecturer, Department of Population Studies, Makerere University, Ms. Isabella Akiteng-Project Coordinator, Uganda Youth Network and Ms. Loyola Karobwa-A Member of the Youth Leaders’ Think Tank for Policy Alternatives were assembled as panelists.

In her contribution, Ms. Helena Okiring observed that the youth, by virtue of their numbers represent continuity, opportunity and can therefore make a tangible difference if they actively participate in politics. She however noted with concern the increased monetization and patronage as occasioned by other political entities, which eventually affected how the youth engaged in political activity. She noted that there were growing patterns of youth activism, especially as youth organized themselves around CSOs to make their demands heard.

Mr. Yusuf Kiranda the day’s Moderator then turned the debate to Mr. Jacob Eyeru, tasking him to explain why despite the increased youth organisation, their voices and participation in the political processes was not as profound as expected. In his response, Mr. Eyeru noted that political participation cannot be fostered by most of the CSOs to which some of the youth belong as they tend to be activity-driven. He further shared that youth leagues are more active under political party structures and only heard of around election times. He therefore urged the leadership of the youth leagues especially in political parties, to show more evidence of appropriate representation beyond only participating in the elective process.

Ms. Isabella Akiteng in her contribution on youth participation in the political process noted the glaring lack of civic education, after only half of the audience raised their hands in answer to her question on how many had taken time to pick up their National Identity Cards. She urged the youth to look beyond the surface to the consequences of all messages such as defiance as Part of the audience from various Ugandan Universities that actively participated in the debate on 17th November 2015 in the Main Hall, Makerere University, Kampala Ugandaperpetrated by the entities they belong to. With regard to low youth participation, she noted the need for polices to interact more with the demographics of the population so as to effectively align any messages to the appropriate channels of dissemination.  She emphasized the need to educate the population on the importance of associating their vote to service delivery at all levels.

With regard to the policy gaps in lieu of political participation, whereas Ms. Loyola Karobwa admitted that they do exist, she argued that a poor attitude towards the process presented an even bigger problem. She urged the youth gathered not to shun participation in elective politics as the entry level has been sent low. She further encouraged youth to shun youth affiliations that sought to label them as “poor” and any other negative connotations.

To help further demystify the mystery of low youth participation, the last panelist of the day Mr. Michael Mugisha sought to create a distinction between participation by attendance and by impactful involvement. He emphasized the need to stress the gains of impactful versus passive participation, such that all those that would hitherto shun the process get fully engaged, mindful that their participation will influence policy implementation. He also called for distinguishing between the different kinds of youth based on their location in rural/urban areas or their economic status, so as to avoid generalizing their would-be interests and aspirations.

The curtains came down on the day’s debate with members of the audience voicing opinions ranging from the resolve to vote and actively participate in more organisational activities away from elections, to adoption of constructive and respectful language during debates. The youth however could not shake the fact that monetization of political participation made it hard for new entrants to actively engage in the electoral processes, but expressed their willingness to keep trying.

Article by Public Relations Office

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Veteran Professor changed Makerere and Higher Education

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Professor Pancras John Mukasa Ssebuwufu (L) receives a plaque and citation from RUFORUM Board Member and Vice Chancellor Ndejje University-Professor Eriabu Lugujjo (Right) on 6th May 2021 at the RUFORUM Secretariat, Plot 155 Garden Hill, Makerere University Main Campus,

When Professor John Ssebuwufu ambled up to receive a certificate of recognition for his ‘exceptional’ contribution to higher education from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) at Makerere University (MU), he was thinking of many things, such as rewarding staff, that he could have done differently to impact university education more.

But he did what he could have done, under the circumstances.

He presided over MU (in 1993) when student enrolment was 5,000 and left in 2004 when the population was surging to more than 15,000.

He emphasised the use of information communication technologies in almost all the institutions he had been involved in and sent many academic staff on exchanges to boost research and innovation. Now, more African universities engage in ground-breaking research.

So, he proceeded to accept his recognition and make his acceptance speech, which was mostly about gratitude.

Ssebuwufu, 74, who is currently the chancellor at Kyambogo University and the vice-chancellor of the University of Kisubi, is credited for his exemplary leadership and pragmatic methods that have shaped higher education in Uganda and Africa as a whole.

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Japan Africa Dream Scholarship (JADS) Program 2021/2022

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Japan Africa Dream Scholarship (JADS) Program 2021/2022. Photo credit: AfDB

The Japan Africa Dream Scholarship (JADS) Program is a capacity building project by the AfDB and Japan which was initiated in 2017 with the aim of providing two-year scholarship awards to highly achieving African graduate students to enable them to undergo post-graduate studies (i.e. a two-year Master’s degree program) in selected priority development areas on the continent and Japan. The overarching goal the AfDB and the Government of Japan seek to attain is to enhance skills and human resources development in Africa in under the Bank’s High 5s agenda (i.e. “Feed Africa”, “Light up Africa”, “Industrialize Africa”, “Integrate Africa” and “Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa”) and key Japanese development assistance initiatives. JADS core areas of study focus include energy, agriculture, health, environmental sustainability, and engineering. The program also seeks to promote inter-university collaboration and university-industry partnerships between Japan and Africa. Upon completion of their studies, the JADS scholars are expected to return to their home countries to apply and disseminate their newly acquired knowledge and skills in the public and private sectors, and contribute to national and continental socio-economic development.

About the JADS program

The JADS Program is open to applicants from AfDB member countries with relevant professional experience and a history of supporting their countries’ development efforts who are applying to a graduate degree program in energy development and related discipline.  The program does not provide scholarships to any other graduate degree program.

The scholarship program provides tuition, a monthly living stipend, round-trip airfare, health insurance, and travel allowance.

Upon completion of their studies, the beneficiary scholars are expected to return to their home countries to apply and disseminate their newly acquired knowledge and skills, and contribute to the promotion of sustainable development of their countries.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

The program is open to those who have gained admission to an approved Masters degree course at a Japanese partner university. Candidates should be 35 years old or younger; in good health; with a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the energy area or related area; and have a superior academic record. Upon completion of their study programs, scholars are expected to return to their home country to contribute to its economic and social development.

Application Procedures

  1. Applicant requests for information and application forms and procedures from the chosen JADS partner university. For any inquiries, please contact JADS@AFDB.ORG
  2. Applicant completes required documents and sends them to the university.
  3. University evaluates and selects applicants.
  4. University sends selected candidates to the AfDB.
  5. AfDB reviews submissions from universities, prepares and approves the final list.
  6. AfDB contacts selected awardees, and informs the universities.

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WHS Regional Meeting Africa 2021: Finance Chairperson’s Update

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Prof. Tonny J. Oyana, Finance Chairperson, World Health Summit Regional Meeting Africa, June 2021.

SOPs: Our plan is to have 200 sets of people in different spacious rooms…

Prof. Tonny j. oyana, finance chairperson whs regional meeting africa

We are sincerely grateful to our sponsors…

Over 15 core sponsors…

Sessions: 60% Virtual, 40% Onsite…

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