Ambassador William Carlos, Minister for ethics, Fr Simon Lokodo and Lorraine Gallagher the Deputy Head of Co-operation at the Irish Embassy in Uganda. (Photo by Jacky Achan)
Ireland currently is the fourth largest donor in Karamoja providing approximately 13% of all its funding and at the heart of the Irish support to Karamoja is education
Education in Ireland is one that has been transformed to ensure enabling learning and creativity.
"The whole investment structure is centred on our people, what they study is related to the job market demands," Ireland's Ambassador to Uganda William Carlos reveals.
Education has been the biggest pillar in the development of Ireland, "the education is not just academic, it's applied and everyone feels the need to go to school," Ambassador Carlos further reveals.
This is the same model of education the Irish are trying to expand in Karamoja, a region in Uganda that continues to lag behind.
Over 70 percent of the population aged 10 and above in Karamoja has never been to school, according to statistics from Uganda Bureau of standards.
"A big number now aged 25-45 didn't go to school, at the time they were armed cattle keepers but after the disbarment program, they remained redundant and unskilled, according to Esther Anyakun, the Woman Member of Parliament Nakapiripirit district.
This has seen the level of poverty remain high in Karamoja but that is bound to change with continued Irish support to education in the region.
Prioritising Vocational education
In education our primary focus is on vocational education in Karamoja, Ambassador Carlos says. On Thursday April 11, 2019, Ireland marked 25 years of partnership with Uganda which has a specific focus on Karamoja.
Ireland currently is the fourth largest donor in Karamoja providing approximately 13% of all its funding and at the heart of the Irish support to Karamoja is education.
"People may have missed opportunity to go to school because of different issues, but with vocational education they can go back and learn a skill and it enables them join the work force," Carlos said with so much optimism.
Education he says is a basic human right as well as a means of reducing poverty in Karamoja.
Other forms of education
You can't be a carpenter unless you learn the basics, you have to see what skills people have and then take direction but you need the foundation; you must know how to read and write, Carlos says.
In terms of numbers Ireland has funded primary, secondary and higher education in Uganda plus given scholarships for Ugandans to study In Ireland.
At world level, Ireland supports the Global partnership for education which provides major funding for Uganda's national education strategy, and for 2018 to 2020 provided €25 million.
As of 2016 to 2020 Ireland will invest over €25 million or over 23% of its budget on the education sector in Uganda at both national level and in Karamoja.
Last year in Karamoja, Ireland injected €4.5 million about sh.18b in education, supporting UNICEF to work with local leaders and schools in Karamoja to provide quality education at both primary and post-primary level.
Also "We have a very big alumnus in relation to Ugandans who have studied in Ireland. It's about them coming back to the country after and making it a better place," Carlos says.
"With people getting chance for education, they will have developed themselves, family, communities, region and nation and that's the key," he adds
Ambassador Carlos disclosed that Ireland is moving ahead in planning the next five years of support to education in Uganda particularly Karamoja.
"We have to link it to what government is doing, what our plan is for Uganda and about the government national plan.
In terms our priority we feel education is important and at the front of making sure, vulnerable people get access to different social support," he says
The Irish -Uganda ambassador says another area that is critical is the aspect of girl education.
He says there are many tools to use to Fast-track education to enable more people more so this generation that needs better access to education.
Doing it quickly
The Irish are working with the ministry of education, and the global fund for education is also providing funding, according to Ambassador Carlos.
He also commended the teachers making a difference project run by the New Vision and the Irish Embassy.
He says all teachers should engage and be aware of the opportunities it presents to further develop education in Uganda. "It's a fantastic opportunity. I hope to see it further develop," he says.
"For now, from Mozambique were i previously worked, there is a great saying "aluta continua" the fight continues. We have to struggle, we cannot give up on people that's why primary vocational education is very important.
It will give people especially in Karamoja continued opportunities to engage, create the opportunity for Education, so that they can go ahead and achieve for themselves," Ambassador Carlos says of the Irish Commitment to education in Uganda.