17-year-old mother of two dreams to become an accountant

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Keji attending classroom under the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) ar Ariwa Primary School, Rhino refugee settlement, Arua District, Northern Uganda

“My name is Esther Keji Nelson. I am a 17-year old mother of two children. I came from South Sudan in 2016. After losing my parents in the war, I dropped out-of-school and got married at the age of 14”.

Esther walks to Ariwa Primary School, 7 kilometers from her home in Rhino refugee settlement in the Northern Uganda district of Arua. She leaves her 3-year-old and 9-months-old children under the care of an elderly friend in pursuit for a bright future. “I decided to enroll back in school because the man I got married to cannot take care of me. Therefore, I must find means of earning to take care of my children.”

Esther is one of the 56 girls out of the total of 74 pupils enrolled this year in level 3 of the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) implemented by Save the Children. Save the Children aims to enable out-of-school children back to the education ladder through remedial education, as part of the Support Programme for Refugees Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF).

Esther’s dream is to become an accountant one day. Through this she hopes to earn income, build a house and take care of her children. She advises fellow young girls to enroll back in school because with education their future is bright.




Belgian Development Agency (BTC) in partnership with Ministry of Education commission NTC MUNI

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H.E Hugo Verbist, the Belgian Ambassador to Uganda and Alex Kakooza the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education officially commission the administration block as part of phase one of construction and rehabilitation work at NTC Muni. Looking on are Ministry officials and Arua District Leaders.

Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in partnership with Belgian Development Agency (BTC) officially commissioned the first phase of rehabilitated and constructed facilities at NTC Muni worth 9.2 billion under the Teacher Training Education (TTE) project.

To officially commission this project was the Ambassador of Belgium, His Excellency Hugo Verbist and the, the Minister of State for Higher Education, represented by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry Education, Alex Kakooza at a colorful event that took place at the National Teachers College, Muni, Arua district.

The TTE project is jointly implemented by the Ministry of Education of Sports (MoES) – Teacher Instructor Education and Training (TIET) Department and the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) to provide an improved student-centered and practice-oriented learning environment in 4 teacher training institutions (NTC Muni; NTC Kaliro; National Instructors College Abilonino; Health Tutors College Mulago).

In his remarks at the commissioning, the Ambassador noted “the emphasis on infrastructure and creating a stimulating work environment is certainly no coincidence. Some would say that the Belgians like to build and are therefore ‘born with a brick in our stomach’. However, this is not why we are supporting the rehabilitation of these facilities. Together with our focus on training and management, this is a wider approach”.

The results of the five-year commissioned TTE project that started in 2012 include; strengthening support supervision by central level (TIET department; Kyambogo University), strengthening the college management, strengthening pedagogy to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and rehabilitation, extension and equipment of the college facilities.                    

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports, Alex Kakooza, said that rehabilitation of National Teacher’s Colleges is one way through which the Government of Uganda is improving education standards. He further commended BTC and the Belgian Government for the great work done and the partnership.

In terms of infrastructure, NTC Muni has been equipped with lecture rooms, offices, multipurpose hall, a user-friendly library as well as ICT facilities, laboratory equipment and easily movable furniture for active teaching and learning. The college design also incorporated construction of climate-smart approaches that factored in renewable energy and sustainable architecture with elements of solar energy & biogas and water harvesting for the college sustainability.

H.E the Ambassador of Belgium to Uganda Hugo Verbist plant trees in the college compound of NTC Muni to signify protection of the environment

In terms of pedagogy, all the academic staff (52 lecturers) of the college underwent training in student-centred Active Teaching and Learning (ATL) methodology. This was supplemented with distribution of ATL Manuals to all teaching staff and to the college Library for students’ access.

In the past three years, frequent support supervision visits facilitated by the project were conducted by national experts from Kyambogo University and from MoES/TIET department to provide pedagogic support to the college Lecturers, Mentor Teachers, Librarians and Heads of Departments.

To enhance the college management, the globally certified “Franklin Covey 7-Habits of Highly Effective People” training was delivered to management staff and execution grants were disbursed for the college to implement priority activities of their strategic plan. Management and support staff also received a series of training in assets and maintenance management as well as on Behavioral Change.

It is with the above pedagogic, management and infrastructure support that the Ministry of Education in partnership with BTC is commissioning this project and launching the second phase of construction and institutional development works in NTC Muni.

‘Turned on’ environment!

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The social media empowered environment is what we call “turned on” or “always on” and it doesn’t make it any better with the new trend of citizen journalism; the world is truly on the go…… it is turned on!

Solomon Serwanja, NTV Uganda, wins the national news reporting (broadcast) award
Solomon Serwanja, NTV Uganda, wins the national news reporting (broadcast) award

Last night, the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) Uganda recognized and honored the cream de’ la cream of journalism in the country that are meeting standards in the way they communicate ethically and as one of the Directors of the Center, George Lugalambi twitted via @glugalambi “The general quality of entries was good and showed a trend towards more analytical journalism #ACMEAwards13” such a comment coming from not just an Academic but experienced communicator says a lot. The fact that our world is ‘turned on’ but are still able to reach out to audiences /publics means we are not letting the profession of Communication go to waste even amidst the ‘always on’ world of Citizen Journalism. Through my extensive experience working in corporate communications I have noted that PR needs to be grounded in finding organizational stories and telling them in the most appropriate way, whether that is using traditional media relations, social media or face-to-face briefings and our conduits of this communications is vital even in this ‘turned on’/ ‘always on’ environment of millennialism. Journalists being one major channel, the quality of their work counts and is a necessity to our profession. The effectiveness of our communications in such an environment continually requires us to be proactive and strategically planned story-telling, for instance if a brand’s reputation is damaged, the story you tell is vital to how your organization can rebuild its reputation. Reputations can plummet rapidly, however getting it back is a slow, laborious process and as one of my favorite quote goes “We can afford to lose money, even a lot of money but we cannot afford to lose even a shred of reputation”- Warren Buffet.

In view of The Starbuck’s tax scandal who knows if media also contributed to the fall of Enron despite the company’ failing to identify its risk in time – Just saying…… the way in which the media’s was telling the Starbucks tax scandal story on the actual events and Starbucks inability to control or tell the right story meant huge loss of public trust and a huge loss of morale among staff hence protestors intimidated employees at one of London’s best Starbucks outlets and made them unable to do their job because of the way the story had unfolded. Just as the Corporate Communications Head of Starbucks did his duty to resolve the issues being played out in the media, and so is our role and doing this means getting the communications right between the organization’s key stakeholders. Getting out the facts of the issue is vital and this works seamlessly when Communications custodians liaise or sit on the organization’s board – and being able to craft your PR strategy around telling the story of what really went on to end up as a crisis. Unpicking the back-story, of the National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) vs Makerere University Crisis presented me with a complex financial story which couldn’t be told easily. So my initial strategy was to undertake a series of Question & Answer sessions with key stakeholders on a personal level. This enabled NIC to hear directly from journalists, shareholders and consumers alike and allowed the organization to take feedback; opinion and recommendations of what all stakeholders thought and incorporated our ideas into the issues management strategy with the support of the management and board not to mention expertise of the director, communications from the IGI Group. Given such a scenario a few years ago when the environment was not as ‘turned on ‘as it is today, the NIC brand would be in fiascoes. Important to note; we are story tellers and spinning yarns about our services and our brand is what we do. It doesn’t matter if that story consists of only images or is a story so individual and unique that it becomes universal; or maybe the story comes to life as a product capable of leveraging the scale of our stores. Even the better when told via social media cautiously with a 24/7 gatekeeper to mitigate viral damages. Finding the right story, working out what we want to say and how we say it and making it stick isn’t always easy, however. To help address these issues a handy checklist of questions that I use to ask myself can be helpful: • What is the angle? • What is the viewpoint? • Does the story sound good – does it go ‘pop’? • Does it work for social media? • Does it work for broadcast media? • Who are your case studies? • Who will tell the story for you? • Who are you going to use to tell the story? • How easy can you make that story for the journalist?

“we are story tellers and spinning yarns about our services and our brand is what we do. It doesn’t matter if that story consists of only images or is a story so individual and unique that it becomes universal; or maybe the story comes to life as a product capable of leveraging the scale of our stores”.

Given our ‘turned on’ ‘always on’ environment, following the story-telling approach will not only help effective communications, it will help drive the bottom line of the business. For me to describe my day today PR environment, I would simply say it is about “creativity, disruption or disorder”, it is “the ideas that come from Public Relations that give your organization cut through” so stay proactively ‘turned on’ whilst communicating effectively.

Share your ‘turned on’ comments. Thank you.