The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards aim to stimulate interest in science and technology and inspire innovative thinking.
Seeta High School (Green campus) and St Mary's College Kisubi dominated the 2016 Eutelsat Star Awards competitions and are winning this competition for the first time.
The competitions have for the last couple of years been dominated by Gayaza High School and King's College Budo.
The competition which has been running in Uganda for the last six years attracted 23 schools from different regions around the country; with a submission of over 165 entries.
The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards aim to stimulate interest in science and technology and inspire innovative thinking among secondary and high school students in Africa, create awareness on how science/technology can be applied to everyday life. It also showcased many ways satellites impact the African continents development.
From left, country Winners Dennis Mitala of St. Mary College Kisubi (winner in the essay category) and Aine Ronald Musinguzi of Seeta High School (winner in the poster category. (Credit: Mary Kansiime)
The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards encourages 14-19 year-old students to write an essay or design a poster on a satellite-related topic.
This year, students were asked to create a new age satellite to solve Africa's future problems and students were to answer through essays and posters.
The essay category was won by Dennis Mitala from St Mary's College Kisubi while Gordon Brian Alemo from the same school emerged the runner up.
The duo returned recently from Arusha, Tanzania where they competed in the East African Essay Competitions emerging first and second respectively. The poster category was dominated by Seeta High School through Ronald Musinguzi who was the winner and Edwin Ira who emerged as the runner up.
The five-member adjudication committee was led by Sarah Agaba Kabahuma, Frequency Planner at the Uganda Communications Commission.
Head Judge Sarah Kabahuma Agaba hands over a laptop to winner Aine Ronald Musinguzi. (Credit: Mary Kansiime)
Also on the panel was Geoffrey Agoi the Principal broadcasting Engineer in the Ministry of ICT and James Amatre, an English teacher at Nabisunsa Girls School. He also represented the education ministry.
The others were Dr. Josephine Nyongarwizi Akol, a lecturer and head of the epartment of electrical and computer engineering at Makerere University and Adrine Twinamatsiko, the branch manager, Multi Choice Uganda.
The jury based its decisions on attributes such as Accuracy of the information, structure and essay flow, grammar, creativity, overall layout, graphics and imagination. Kabahuma could not hide her surprise at the technological knowledge exhibited by the students.
"My fellow judges and I were taken aback by the insights and level of creativity from the entries we received, it is evidently clear this generation of children is well versed in their knowledge and understanding about technology just by looking at the quality of their work," Kabahuma said.
She further noted that the competition not only fosters the development of science and technology by encouraging students to think outside the box, but it also helps them put their imaginations to good use.
From left: SMACK'S Gordon Brain Olemo (runner-up, essay), Dennis Mitala (winner, essay) and Seeta's Edwin Ira (runner-up, poster) and Aine Ronald Musinguzi (winner, poster). [Credit: Mary Kansiime)
Quoting Nelson Mandela, Tina Wamala, the Public Relations Manager MultiChoice Uganda, the coordinators and organizers of the competition said education is the only weapon we can use to change society.
"An investment in the youth is an investment in the future. And as MultiChoice, we believe that the promotion of education in the fields of science and technology will make a fundamental difference in the future of all countries across all continents," Wamala said.
"MultiChoice understands that to develop and shape today and the future of our generation, technology and science play a vital part that is why we invest in this competition. Our partnership with Eutelsat is passionately based on our common belief that the two fields are great contributors to digitalizing Africa," She said.
The winning essay and poster will enter into the overall Africa Awards and represent Uganda at the continental competition where the best overall in both categories will win a trip to Eutelsat offices in Paris, France. At this trip, the student will witness a rocket launch for the essay winner and the satellite construction site for the poster winner.
The overall two runners up for the best essay and poster respectively, will win trips to MultiChoice offices in Johannesburg and the South Africa Space Agency at Hartbeesthoek.
Ronald Musinguzi, the poster category winner could not hide his excitement. "It brings me great joy. My effort to bring out the perfect work has paid off. It was a tricky process as the school's computer laboratory was out of bounds to non-candidates since it was UNEB time," said Musinguzi.
"All credit goes to our Fine Art teacher, Ssenkungu Ian who helped us research and come up with quality work. I would like to thank him for his continued support and tireless effort to make sure we were the best. We had to make so many sacrifices like sleepless nights, missing lessons, reading books; to catch up," he adds.
Multichoice Uganda's Tina Wamala poses with winners. (Credit: Mary Kansiime)
Mitala Denis, the essay category winner says it took a lot of encouragement and support for him to write the essay. "It involved making sacrifices. Through all the challenges, I endured and by just following the required criteria, we came up with the essay that the best in the country."
"I'm really happy and grateful to DStv for their endeavor in venturing into space exploration and awareness of capabilities and possibilities of satellites to people," he says.
Jeniffer Okello, an English teacher at SMACK and the mentor to Mitala and Alemo said she was confident her boys would make her proud. "They love what they do. They are self-driven, committed and they put in their best. They have just returned from winning the East African essay competition and I can say it their season," said Okello.
Jackline Murindwa, Musinguzi's mother commended his son and the school for availing his son with such opportunities. "I am grateful to Seeta High School-Green Campus, for its consistent effort to provide as much opportunities to students as possible. Opportunities like these, promote innovativeness and critical thinking," she said.
Ian Ssenkungu, a teacher at Seeta High School said his students excelled because the school supports and provides a conducive environment to students to try out so many things in their day-to-day life.