Teso Education Fund (TEF), a UK registered charity No 1196225 has awarded scholarships to 7 students to study at Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU). This is the 3rd cohort of students to be sponsored by TEF.
The scholarship award ceremony took place in Soroti Secondary School in Soroti, Uganda on Saturday 6th May 2023 and was presided over by Professor John Robert Ikoja, Vice Chancellor, Soroti University of Science and Technology.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs Immaculate Omagor who represented the chair, Regional Advisory Committee, Mr Martin Omagor called on the sponsored students to consider themselves lucky to get the sponsorship opportunity. She challenged them to study well so as not to let their sponsor, their family and community down.
Mr Robert Ochai, a member of the board of trustees, TEF Uganda who represented Ms Frances Atima, the chair and the board, thanked the TEF UK for the initiative to improve education in Teso. He thanked the volunteers in Soroti for implementing the scholarship programme in the field.
He thanked UTAMU and Kampala Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) for partnering with TEF to offer scholarships to students from Teso to develop human resources for Teso and Uganda as a whole.
He urged the sponsored students to take the opportunity seriously to change their lives, that of their families and their communities.
Dr Patrick Igulot, the Executive Director, provided an overview of TEF. He said that TEF was a legal entity registered in the UK and Uganda. He presented the achievement of TEF including providing full scholarships to 24 students, distributing 100 new laps, and teaching Ateso language and culture to children in the diaspora.
The pioneer scholars in their speech thanked TEF for the sponsorship. Mr Ivan Eotu who represented his fellow scholars said, “I am one of the beneficiaries who was sponsored to Diploma in Cooperatives and Business Administration with zero balance”. He said most of his colleagues are studying and some have completed, just like him.
He listed some of the achievement that they had registered which included being in education to acquire knowledge and skills. He reported that they held a get-together party in 2022 and contributed money to print T-shirts to publicise TEF. He pledged to live up to the expectations of TEF.
Ivan, TEF’s pioneer scholar was awarded a scholarship as a pioneer TEF-UTAMU scholar who is going upgrade his diploma to BSc in Accounting and Finance.
The parents of the pioneer scholars expressed their gratitude to TEF for the help to educate their children. One of the mothers said, I didn’t know how I would educate my son, but thanks to TEF, my son has now reached somewhere. Speaking in Ateso, she was even more grateful to TEF for awarding her son a scholarship to study for a degree. She said, I am not educated but I am now happy because at least my son has got education.
The City Woman Member of Parliament, Soroti, Hon Joan Acom Alobo lauded TEF and UTAMU for the education partnership. Mr Sam Aceitum, the Political Assistant who represented the MP, lauded the spirit of giving by TEF members and supporters which has given hope to the students and their families.
He appealed to Professor Ikoja to ring fence at least 2 university places at Soroti University per district for students from Teso. He went on to report that the city authority had passed a similar request to the East African Civil Aviation Authority, Soroti Flying School to allocate 1 student per district in Teso.
Dr Josephine Mukwaya Ojangor, the director and principal of Kampala Institute of Science and Technology gave an overview of her institution. She said KIST is accredited by the National Council for High Education and Ministry of Education to provide training in applied courses such as pharmacy and medical laboratory techniques.
She explained that her motivation to offer to TEF bursaries stems from her experience of living in Serere district in eastern Uganda where she witnessed many students who were not attending school due to high levels of poverty.
The Vice Chancellor, UTAMU, Professor Eddy Kurobuza Tukamushaba congratulated the successful applicants and welcomed them to UTAMU. He reported that UTAMU was an accredited university since 2013 and has now applied for a charter.
He said UTAMU had invested in infrastructure and was confident the university would receive a charter to indicate the high quality of education it offers.
He called on the communities in Teso to utilise the opportunity from UTAMU by absorbing the 50 scholarships available this year for the good of the development of Teso and Uganda.
Mr Honorat Patrick Igulot, a retired educationist in his remarks observed that the best way to under develop a community is to deny them education. He said, Teso used to perform well. Teso was always the first or second in all levels (PLE, UCE, and UACE). However, in the recent past, education in Teso has deteriorated. He said the community needed to do more to avoid being laughed at, getting inferior and low jobs. He advised the scholars to utilise the opportunity they have been given.
The Inspector of Schools, Soroti district who represented the District Education Officer thanked TEF and UTAMU for the partnership. She said education was the best way to achieve socioeconomic development. She challenged the parents to play their part in supporting their children. She cautioned the scholars against getting retakes.
Professor Ikoja, the guest of honour said communities in Teso had left education to the government. As a result of this attitude, most parents were marrying off their daughters and marrying wives for the sons.
He thanked TEF in the UK for initiating TEF to improve education in Teso. He noted that having an office in Soroti was commendable.
Prof Ikoja was impressed with the goal of TEF to raise funds to advance education in Teso. He said, Teso had faced a tumultuous past which had resulted in apathy and lamentation and that there was need to change.
Speaking to the beneficiaries, he called upon them to respect the parents, TEF, and authority as a means to success. He challenged the students to bring good results and be able to apply their knowledge and skills.
He noted further that as much as education had declined in Teso, TEF was working to salvage it. He said the beneficiaries of TEF needed to be examples and should join TEF to support more beneficiaries. He pledged support to TEF so that the good work can continue.
He announced that Soroti University was launching a business course at Soroti College of Commerce in partnership with a university in India. He disclosed that the university was making arrangements to offer short tailored courses run in pioneer primary school, in Soroti, Uganda. All of these courses were being designed to address the needs of the local community.
Mr Gilbert Obore, the Manager, TEF Uganda Field Office in Soroti, called on the communities in Teso to subscribe to TEF as members. Through membership, TEF would realise funds to offer more scholarships. He pledged to work with the families of the sponsored students to help them raise funds for their second year.
These are some of the photos of the ceremony.