Uganda - Empowering youth through local scholarship program
Youth Inclusion and Education - Committed to empowering socially at-risk young people
In the last two decades, the Ugandan government has emphasized on educational program making it one of the African countries with the highest literacy rate. Even though elementary school has a 90% enrollment rate in Uganda, only 23.3% of the students are enrolled in secondary school. This challenge goes hand in hand with another factor which is that there is a disparity of education level between big cities and rural areas.
All over the world, Total aims to promote access to knowledge through initiatives like scholarships and educational programs targeted at consolidating the education systems and infrastructure. Education is key in developing the human capital of our host countries but also a way of contributing to the emergence of national talent.
With these key issues in mind, a Local Scholarship Program (LSP) was introduced in 2013 in the 4 districts where Total operates taking into account the new government education strategies, Skilling Uganda Development Project (USDP). LSP grants scholarships enabling students from Nebbi, Nwoya, Buliisa and Masindi who excel in their Ordinary Levels to continue their Advanced Level studies focusing on science subjects in Kampala’s best schools. The package includes the tuition fees, scholastic requirements, medical insurance, accommodation at school and transport to school and back home at the end of each term.
A much needed scholarship
Pakwach district is 300 km from Kampala, where Rodgers Rwothungeo grew up in a small village called Pajobi. By the time he successfully completed his Ordinary Levels at Kibuli Secondary School in 2013, his parents, both civil servants with five children, already bore the financial burden of enrolling his two older sisters at university. Rodgers’ chances of pursuing his scholarship were slender.
“I love mathematics, says Rodgers, I wanted nothing more than to go to my Advanced Level.” But he knew it would be hard financially for his family. The top schools are in the capital city, Kampala. Not only are they far from home, they are also very costly making it tough for the youngsters to compete favorably with other students at the national examinations.
As Rodgers was planning to branch off to a hands-on course, a coordinator from Total’s Local Scholarship Program visited their district and presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: applying for a grant to continue his Advanced Levels. Rodgers and his parents filled out the application form and gathered the recommendations. He was one of the 20 students chosen by the Upper secondary schools. “The scholarship came when we needed it so much. I don’t know where I would be without it.” He joined Saint-Mary’s College Kisubi, majoring in physics, math, and chemistry.
The change was so significant for Rodgers and his fellow students that they founded an alumni association dedicated to encouraging students from their home districts and those in the program. “If we made it, they can too!”
To date, 90 students have benefitted from this program which keeps on pursuing its main goal: empowering these youngsters through educational success. On the long run, the hope is one day to see them become young entrepreneurs and contributing to creating local jobs.
* Figures for year 2013
- Almost 70% of Uganda’s population is under the age
- The median age is 15.8.
- Uganda has 4th highest birth rate.
Source : The World Fact Book.