With nearly 80% of youth in northern Uganda unable to attain higher education, this large population of out-of-school youth requires competences to participate in gainful economic activities. Gulu University, in a joint initiative with Bobi Community Polytechnic, a community-based Technical and Vocational Education and Training institute (TVET) and ZOA, an international relief and recovery organization, has responded to the call for universities to play a greater role in influencing lower levels of the educational value chain.
In June 2019, as part of extending the university’s outreach mandate, Gulu University conducted a training for out-of-school youth on market oriented vegetable production. The training focused on technical and entrepreneurial skills enhancement, specifically on building competences in agronomic practices, post-harvest handling, resource mobilization, farm business planning, market linkages and networking.
The training used an engaged approach where the youth were hosted at the TVET for a two-week residential period. In addition to the training, the youth were placed in groups and supported to establish nurseries.
ZOA support to Bobi Polytechnique builds on existing support from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) through a partnership with Gulu University supported by the Mastercard Foundation. Gulu University will continue to mentor the groups for at least one production cycle covering the period from August to December 2019. To this end, the university will conduct field visits to the respective groups for further guidance and technical support. Dr. Basil Mugonola of Gulu University and main coordinator of the training affirmed the university’s commitment saying, “Gulu University is committed to following up on the engagement with out-of-school youth. Our staff and students will visit you often to support your enterprises.”
Bobi Community Polytechnic’s Head Instructor, Mr. Ocaka, thanked Gulu University and ZOA for partnering with the institution, “We are glad we are able to engage more with the community through partnership with the university and ZOA”, he remarked.
The youth appreciated the training and were especially grateful that Gulu University and its partners had skilled them on a project they chose themselves as one of the group leaders remarked,
“We thank the University for accepting to give us skills on an enterprise we chose ourselves. We will utilise this to change our households.”
On their part, representatives from the partner organisations called on each stakeholder to play their role in making the project a success. The trainees were particularly urged to continue practicing what they had been taught and engaging with the learning institutions.
Gulu University Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and Bobi Community Polytechnic are grateful for the partnership with RUFORUM, the Mastercard Foundation and ZOA that made this engagement with out-of-school youth possible.