By Our Reporter
Kampala: The Minister of Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs, Hajjat Minsa Kabanda has urged local authorities in Kampala to recommend only the underprivileged children from the five (5) divisions of the city for free training at the skilling centers under the Presidential Initiative on Skilling the Girl/Boy Child (PISGBC) project.
She said this will give the disadvantaged and vulnerable children from Kampala the opportunity to obtain skills that will pull them out of the bad habits of criminality, being on the streets as well as empower them economically.
“As the Minister for Kampala, I want these children to get employment. So, LCs ensure that you approve only children from Kampala, not those from far places like Bundibugyo, Kasese and others. There are zonal Industrial hubs that President Yoweri Museveni established in those areas that they can take advantage of,” she said.
Hon. Kabanda was on Friday the Guest of Honor at the showcasing ceremony of products made by the once ghetto girls and boys at Wabigalo Skilling Center in Makindye Division.
Hajjat Kabanda revealed that the President pledged to open up more skilling centers in Kampala since the population keeps on growing.
The Minister was happy to see the beneficiaries producing several quality products within a short time of their training and strongly advised them never to slide back into bad habits of alcoholism, drugs and going to the streets.
“In 6 months only, these children are able to acquire skills for self-employment. People with degrees and diplomas don’t have jobs but these children after being skilled now have jobs,” she said.
“Thank you for loving President Museveni and thank you for loving your country,” the Minister added.
On the issue of acquiring land for the construction of an Industry where common user machines for production will be installed, the Minister said she will consult with higher authorities to identify some land in the city to be allocated to them for massive production of goods.
On Education, Hajjat Kabanda directed leaders of Kampala city to ensure that children are not chased away from government schools due to lack of uniform, illegal school fees or food.
Wabigalo Skilling Center that opened for training in 2019 had its operations interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic that same year but resumed skilling the youth in 2022.
Skills offered at the center free of charge include creative Science-handling electronics, T.V and Computer repairs, Kitchen hardware repairs, classic leather bags and shoe making, domestic electrical installations, Plumbing, Rainwater harvesting for domestic use-and crop irrigation.
Others include vehicle mechanics, construction, furniture making and metal fabrication. Lunch is also free to the students at the skilling center.
As a way of fulfilling point number 5 of the 10 point program: – creating an Independent, Integrated and self-sustaining economy, the shoe making department at the center gets its raw material, the tanned leather, from Kawumu Leather Tannery factory that was set up by President Yoweri Museveni.
The Special Presidential Assistant on Education and Skilling also the Head of the skilling project, Dr. Faith Katana Mirembe reiterated her call to Ugandans in particular and the people of Africa in general the importance of value addition to end the concept of being only consumers.
“We must process raw materials into finished products, that is the only way we can develop. The product must be on the shelf, and you are the only one who can determine the price of your product. I am really-really amazed, only 6 months in skilling and these children are able to make quality products. Skilling is going to change Uganda, whether the children have degrees or not skilling is going to transform Uganda,” she pointed out.
Dr. Katana noted that the trainees who are soon sitting for their examinations, have the potential to make anything. She invited the Kampala Minister to pay a visit to the Subway Skilling Center to see what the beneficiaries are capable of.
“Madam Minister on the 21st of this month, come to the Subway demonstration and you will see what our children have made. The money that we have injected into this project has not gone to the drain,” she noted.
Dr. Katana also observed that the students are today able to make good quality shoes from the leather tanned from Kawumu Leather Tannery factory.
“In the past we used to import leather from Kenya, but thanks to President Museveni’s visionary leadership, today we produce our own leather from Kawumu. Soon the importation of shoes and fabrics will end,” she pledged.
She also appealed to leaders in Kampala to desist from corruption tendencies while recruiting beneficiaries for the skilling project and to consider only those children from the City.
“If you take a bribe, you will not be blessed, you will only attract a curse to yourself, your children and your whole lineage,” she cautioned.
Dr. Katana used the same occasion to introduce Dr. Grace Bikumbi to the Minister and the gathering whom she praised for playing a crucial role in changing the mindset of the ghetto children through counselling.
Dr. Bikumbi is a clinical Psychologist and addiction specialist in the rehabilitation unit.
The Administrator of Wabigalo Skilling Center Ms. Jemimah Babirye thanked President Museveni, State House Comptroller Ms. Jane Barekye, Dr. Katana and the State House Management Team for supporting the project.
She said the training started in March, 2023 with 715 students but some pulled out thus remaining with 664 students; of which 89 are girls and 575 are boys.
Earlier, some of the students gave testimonies and one of them was Robert Okedi who is graduating as a vehicle mechanic.
“I was once a drug addict, alcoholic, marijuana smoker and chewing Khat. After receiving counselling, I abandoned those bad habits and was recruited at Wabigalo Skilling Center. I am now reformed and a good mechanic. If you have a vehicle, come for me, I am now qualified. I use the money I get to buy equipment,” he said.