By Richard Adrama
Arua- About 127 students have sat DIT (Directorate of Industrial Trainning) Exams after completing practical models in their chosen skills in off-farm skills courses and in Agriculture at Arua Technical Institute Ragem (ATIR).
The students who attended a symbolic graduation ceremony on November 2nd after undertaking six months training are part of the Ragem VSO Lead program.
The program was made possible through the Lead VSO Lead (Leveraging the local economy through Agriculture Development), a three-year program that commenced on December, 1st 2016.
According to Kirenga Amabillisi, the Principal Arua Technical Institute Ragem the program is geared at improving economic opportunities in Agriculture and life skills of the youths.
Speaking during the recent graduation, Kirenga reminded the students to consider themselves lucky and special to have been given the opportunity of sponsorship for acquiring the knowledge and skills.
“So many young people in Uganda are unable to undertake technical training because of the cost implications. Through the generosity of Greg and sue through the VSO LEAD project , this has been made possible for you all,” Mabillisi said.
He added: “I am sure that you all appreciate the chance that you have all been given and you will all do your best to put your new skills to practice.”
Many of the youths across the region lack skills as most of them opt to stay at trading centers. He further counseled the students to aim at being self-reliant by starting up personal ventures.
“Whether you find a job or not, endeavor to start up a business for yourself, work your land or undertake further studies,” he said.
Supported by UK based private donors Greg Dyke and Sue Howes, the program’s graduation was arranged before the students sat for their DIT Exams to enable their sponsors who had travelled into the country witness their first graduation.
While addressing the students at the same function, Greg dyke implored the students to go out to the job market and use the skills optimally because they can change lives.
“These skills are now your valuable assets. Go out there and set high standards by working with enough energy, enthusiasm and determination because this way you will change your own lives and lives of those around you,” Greg said.
Greg revealed that when he and his wife visited Uganda seven years ago, he was moved by the high levels of youth unemployment, a scenario that inspired them return to UK to make money to come back and spend to change lives of youths.
Arua Technical institute Ragem opened its doors to the a first cohort of the Lead students in May 2017after recruiting 130 students (96 male and 34 females ) in off-farm courses which include Carpentry and Joinery, motor Vehicle mechanics, Plumbing and Welding, and Metal Fabrication.
Products made by the students with support of the expert supervisors include furniture like beds, coffee sets, beds, chairs and tables as well as agricultural items such as beehives and chicken feeders.
The institute is also opening up a medium scale piggery unit as a training and production unit for its sustainability program.
In collaboration with the local community, ATIR has also establish 8 outreach centers to train youth in Agri-business skills and recruited 69 youth (49 males and 29 females).
Proceeds from the Agricultural venture can then be used by the youth for further investment in Agriculture.
Kirenga says that the outreach program is intended to extend the impact of the VSO LEAD project beyond the confines of the Institute into the community and is also designed to train those youth who are unable to attend training from the institute yet are interested in adding skills and Knowledge to their Agricultural activities.
The LEAD Project is supported by ATIR staff and three international VSO volunteers, an Agri-business specialist, a business development specialist and a communication and marketing specialist.