Aside of revamping the infrastructure, the college’s instructors will be re-tooled so that they can provide internationally recognised competency-based training in different trades.
EDUCATION | AGRICULTURE
Timothy Obalim, 25, studies crop production, and management at Bukalasa Agricultural College in Luwero.
He fancies his prospects of finding work as a crop scientist upon completion of his Diploma in a year and a half's time.
With the government keen on consolidating agriculture as the backbone of Uganda's economy and earnestly supporting agro skills training through the World Bank-supported sh370b skills development project, Obalim's career prospects and those of many others who study agro-related courses in Bukalasa and other three Institutes around the country which are going to be revamped at a cost of sh23b, look bright.
"Qualifying as a crop scientist means I will be able to help farmers across the country to improve on their farm productivity.
I will also be able to develop new technologies that will help farmers keep crop pests and diseases at bay. The net effect of that will be increased agro output in the country," Obalim says.
Under the skills development project, a project which ostensibly will set the foundation for transforming skills development in Uganda, many young Ugandans who wish to pursue agricultural-related courses at Bukalasa and its affiliate institutions like Kaberamaido Technical Institute, Rwentanga Farm Institute in Mbarara and Ssese Farm Institute in Kalangala will greatly benefit, as the aforementioned institutes' capacities to deliver high quality and demand-driven training programs are going to be enhanced in the next five years.
By all accounts, Bukalasa is going to be transformed into a state of the art- center of excellence for Certificate and Diploma agricultural courses.
In a speech she made recently on behalf of Alex Kakooza, the Education Ministry Permanent Secretary at the site handover ceremony for the sh18.3b civil construction works at Bukalasa college, Kedrace Turyagenda, the director of education standards at the Education Ministry, said the civil construction works would result in a complete infrastructural overhaul at the College.
"Aside of revamping the infrastructure, the college's instructors will be re-tooled so that they can provide internationally recognised competency-based training in different trades."
"With time, other countries in the region, in Africa and from outside Africa will be benchmarking on agriculture from Bukalasa. Uganda will in due course export skilled manpower in agriculture," Turyagenda added.
Loy Muhwezi, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of technical education at the Education Ministry revealed that the government was set to construct a State of the Art Library, a layer Barn, a Broiler Barn, a Pullet Barn, a Piggery Unit, a Zero grazing structure and a Feed Mill at the College.
"We are also going to construct a milk processing house, a generator house, and laundry units for the College. Some of the old buildings at the college will be demolished. The classrooms will be revamped. This will be achieved at a cost of sh18.3b."
The works are expected to be complete and ready for commissioning and handover to the College within the next nine months.
Gevin Lule Kisolo, the Bukalasa Agricultural College Principal said transforming Bukalasa into a center of excellence will strengthen the capacity of the Institute to deliver high-quality training and applied research.
"It will greatly foster specialization and generate knowledge spillovers. Students will benefit from quality research-based education and will be equipped with the requisite agricultural knowledge and skills for the market," Kisolo said.
In a speech he made on behalf of Pius Wakabi Kasajja, the Permanent Secretary at the Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Ministry, Hebert Kiguli, the Ministry's Commissioner for Human Resource said an overhaul of Bukalasa Agricultural College will go a long way in helping Uganda meet its growing agro sector manpower needs.
"The quality of training will improve. The upshot will be better qualified agricultural scientists who will for instance help the country develop better climate-resilient varieties of staple crops such as maize, cassava, rice, etc. In many respects, they will help fuel Uganda's agricultural driven economy."
Relatedly, civil construction works at Kaberamaido Technical Institute, an offshoot of Bukalasa Agricultural College commenced on the 13th of March.
A State of the Art milk processing house, a milking parlour, a spray race and a feed mill are going to be constructed at the Institute at a cost of sh4.9bn.
"The prognosis is that this investment in better infrastructure at Kaberamaido Technical Institute will lead to improved student outcomes, higher enrollment rates from the neighbouring communities and better instruction. Students who finish their certificate courses at Kaberamaido will be given priority status for the study of specialized diploma courses at Bukalasa," Muhwezi disclosed.
"Muhwezi also revealed that the government was planning on setting up a technical university where technical educational Diploma, Certificate, Degree, Masters and Ph.D. courses would be offered.
"That means graduates from Bukalasa, Kaberamaido, Rwentaga Technical Institute, and Ssese Farm Institute will have a chance to pursue degrees, master's degrees and Ph. D's. in their respective courses of interest."
George Akonapesa, the Resident District Commissioner for Kaberamaido stated that the revamped institute would serve a useful purpose to the surrounding communities.
"Revamping the Institute will bring many dividends. First, the leadership of the district is upbeat that enrolment will increase. Secondly, we are also hoping that it will churn out learners who will transform our communities by sharing the knowledge and transferable skills they will acquire."
Fredrick Oboi, the Kaberamaido deputy district Chairperson said introducing new competency-based courses at the Institute will breathe new life into technical education in the Teso sub-region.
"This development is likely to galvanize interest in agricultural-related vocational education in the sub-region. It will raise the profile of the Institute and transform the levels of education in our region."
Jotham Yeyambe, the Kaberamaido Technical Institute Principal noted that the Institute will enhance its training programmes once the new structures and equipment are in place.
"I am buoyant about the Institute's future prospects but there is a need to retool all teaching staff as the new curriculum stipulates. This development is a big milestone for the vocational education sector in the country."
Like Bukalasa and Kaberamaido, Rwentanga and Ssese Farm Institutes in Mbarara and Kalangala, respectively are also going to be given facelifts.
"On top of storied structures like a state-of-the-art Library, Rwentanga will also receive equipment worth sh1b and sh770m has been set aside for retooling teachers. The Institute is also going to be upgraded to a College," Turyagenda said.
William Tukwasiibwe, the Institute's principal said the sh3b developments would open new horizons for the Institute.
"The developments will foster student enrollment and will be an enabler in the fast implementation of a new competence-based curriculum."
At Ssese Farm Institute in Kalangala, a milking parlour, milk processing and zero grazing units are to be constructed at a cost of sh4.8b.
Godfrey Mukasa, the Kalangala Chief Administrative Officer expressed gratitude for the development.
"This project manifests the commitment of government towards skilling young Ugandans interested in learning about agriculture. The skills they acquire at this Institute will augment the agro-sector."