MTN Foundation a corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of MTN Uganda partnered with the Belgian development agency, Enabel and equipped St. Daniel Comboni Polytechnic, a vocational institute in Moroto with an ICT laboratory with a bid to equip students with the necessary ICT skills for the 21st Century job market.
The lab whose equipment cost UGX64 million will also support and provide educational services to students from neighboring communities. The two parties renovated and repainted the lab, donated 10 computers connected to MTN’s 4G internet connectivity and a digital learning platform.
Enabel who implements and coordinates the international development policy of Belgium extended their support to vocational institutes through the provision of computers and internet connectivity. This is expected to partly contribute to the fulfillment of the aspirations of the 10-year Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) strategic plan called “Skilling Uganda” and ultimately result in the equipping of youth with the skills needed for employment and job creation in order to eradicate poverty.
While speaking to reporters, MTN Uganda CEO; Mr. Wim Vanhelleputte, said; indeed their aim is to skill the youth for the 21st century job market. By enabling them access technical and vocational information online through open education resources for skills development.”
“We’ve seen with a set of vocational skills from workshops like; wielding, sewing, construction, carpentry which are all important skills and very relevant for development. But in the 21st century, in 2020 today, there’s another skill, and that’s the ICT skill. That well all need to have,” said Mr Wim.
In his remarks, he also added that the decision to support vocational institutions was based on the fact that vocational training was found to be an effective way of addressing unemployment. Which is a major issue for the youth in Uganda as of today.
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Uganda H.E Rudi Veestraeten will speaking at the handover ceremony, said; “Although ICT has been formally integrated into the BTVET curriculum, Vocational Institutes lack general computer equipment, trained ICT staff and ICT content and programmes.”
Mr. Veestraeten noted that his country and Ireland have close to 5 years heavily invested in skills development through supporting the implementation of the skilling Uganda strategic plan. The laboratory, he said, will address some of these challenges that vocational institutes currently face.
Mr. Oceng Odok Robert; Director for Higher Education at the Ministry of Education and Sports applauded MTN Uganda Foundation, Enabel and the Irish Embassy for supporting government initiatives through supporting the education sector.
He said the government is well convinced of the need for a fully integration of ICT in education.
“As we are all aware, today, the role of ICTs in education cannot be under estimated. ICT plays a critical role of shaping the desirable 21st century work and life skills,” he told reporters.
Fr. Jude Kiggala, the Principal of the Institute said, the laboratory will enable the students, as well as the staff to embrace modern technology. And to keep up with the ever-evolving trend so as to provide a workforce befitting the 21st century.
Fr. Kiggala added that the instructors will use the lab to source information to better the quality of their training’s, understand the latest trends in their respective fields then align their training’s accordingly.
While closing the ceremony, the guest of honor; Hon. Stella Atyang Woman MP Moroto, said the ICT laboratory commissioned will go a long way in adding value to the learners in this institution.
“I commend the MTN Foundation, Enabel and the Irish Embassy for this great work and for the demonstration of great corporate social investment by contributing to the improvement of education services of the disadvantaged communities in Uganda,” she concluded.
Other beneficiaries that benefited in this project were; St Simon Peter’s Vocational Training Center in Hoima and Amelo Technical Institute in Adjumani district which were refurbished and commissioned last year. The entire project for the three ICT labs cost UGX192 million.
As MTN Foundation, they are passionate about social issues and education is one of them. They have invested over UGX6 billion shillings in education projects alone, across Uganda. They have also supported the Health Initiative ensuring that they provide equipment like beds to hospitals and health centers in the country.
MTN Foundation’s aim is to always make the lives of people brighter. Hence, MTN Uganda giving back to people. Mr Wim noted that at least 20% of the foundation funds go towards helping the communities across the country.