By Innocent Anguyo
GOVERNMENT and public universities have signed an agreement to operationalize a new scholarship scheme.
Government will offer about 350 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships under the “higher education science and technology (HEST)” project that is financed with a $105m (approximately 340b) loan from the African Development Bank (ADB).
The participating public universities include Makerere, Kyambogo, Gulu, Mbarara, Gulu, Busitema, and Muni.
Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and Uganda Management Institute (UMI) are the two public degree awarding institutions that will equally participate.
The leaders of the eight public higher education institutions and the education ministry on Tuesday signed the agreement to activate the disbursement of funds.
The agreement was signed at the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports headquarters at Embassy House in Kampala.
The project accounting officer, Ethel Kamba signed on behalf of the education ministry, while the recipient institutions were represented by vice chancellors and principals. Education ministers Jessica Alupo and Prof. Sandy Tickodri Togboa looked on as the agreement was signed.
According to John Omeke, the HEST project coordinator at the Education Ministry, 120 of the slots are meant to support PhD training for staff in the beneficiary institutions.
The remaining scholarships, though for students, Omeke said are ring-fenced for needy learners interested in pursuing programmes in the realm of science and technology.
The scholarship covers tuition, accommodation, research, scholastic materials and stipend. Omeke said the scholarships are for brilliant but needy students who are on the private sponsorship scheme.
Adverts for applications will be made in August within the participating institutions when the new semester starts.
There will be a committee instituted in each beneficiary institution to vet applications. Other than evidence of good performance in senior six exams, the applicants will be asked to write motivation letter and show proof of being needy.
Speaking on behalf of the participating institutions, Prof Nyeko Pen-Mogi, the Vice Chancellor of Gulu University said they would ensure every penny of the money goes to the intended use.
Tickodri-Togboa urged the leaders of the institutions to focus on skilling students, on grounds that employees were peevish about the quality of recent graduates.
Alupo directed the institutions to submit quarterly and annual progress activity reports. “The funds should strictly be spent on intended activities as per approved work plans. No funds shall be used to finance ineligible activities,” said Alupo.
“Beneficiary Institutions should ensure timely submission of accountabilities along with supporting documents. Please note that no additional funds will be disbursed before receipt of acceptable accountabilities for funds disbursed earlier.”
She warned against comingling of project funds with institutional funds, before announcing that AFDB requires that each institution opens two bank accounts dedicated for the safe custody of HEST Project funds – one for ADB funds and the other for Government counterpart funding.
“Provide evidence that sponsored staff and students are enrolled and pursuing their studies. This should be continuously provided during the life span of the project. At least 40% of the Scholarship beneficiaries should be female,” added Alupo.
The minister announced that new public universities- Kabale, Soroti and Lira will participate in the scholarship in the next phase of ADB financing.
Gov’t, public universities agree on scholarship scheme