It was moment of jubilation on Friday 27th January 2017 when Makerere University MasterCard Foundation (MCF) Scholars of Academic Year 2016/2017 received laptops. The 199 laptops were handed over to the Cohort Three Scholars by the Chairperson of the MCF Steering Committee, Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang on behalf of the Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu at a highly colorful ceremony.
Makerere University entered into a partnership with MasterCard Foundation to offer Scholarships to 1000 academically bright but economically disadvantaged youth in Africa to study at Makerere University from 2013 to 2024. The aim of the project is develop the next generation of African Leaders, who will contribute to the development of the African continent.
MasterCard Foundation (MCF) Scholars Program provides a comprehensive financial, academic and social support to each and every Scholar. This include; tuition and functional fees, a laptop, books and other learning materials, accommodation, beddings and meals medical insurance, stipend, transport to and from home, psychosocial and mentorship support as well as career education. A laptop therefore is an entitlement to every scholar.
In a speech read by the Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang, the Vice Chancellor said that the laptops received will enable Scholars to have easy access to information, improve on their writing and typing skills as well as having more interactions with the MasterCard Foundation.
“I now expect you to be more efficient, have better accessibility to the Internet, and to present timely assignments to your lecturers,” he said.
According to Prof. Ddumba-Ssentamu, the laptops offered give the Scholars a comparative advantage towards their academic pursuit especially when they are combined with International Computer Driving License (ICDL) that covers the key concepts of computing and its practical applications. He therefore urged scholars to properly manage and take good care of their laptops. “This is a resource in your hands. Use the laptops in the most effective way during your studies,” he said.
He reminded the Scholars that the laptops remain the property of Makerere University until when the Scholars have satisfactorily completed their study program. “These laptops have therefore been engraved and occasionally you will be required to personally present them to the program office to ascertain that you still own them,” he explained.
He applauded the Development Partners for assisting the Ugandan youth to access quality education; a foundation to stability and prosperity in Uganda and Africa as a continent. The Vice Chancellor thanked the Program Implementation Team led by Dr. Florence Nakayiwa for the commitment and success thus far.
Speaking to the cheerful audience, the Chairperson of Mak-MCF Steering Committee Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang urged Scholars to use their laptops as gadgets for solving problems.
“A computer is a facility that can help you manage your business, do you work and so many other things in a favorable timeframe. I therefore challenge you to make this computer work for you in this era of the 21st century,” he said.
Mr. Enock Muwanguzi, a third year student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering tipped the Scholars on the advantages and disadvantages of computers as well as the proper management of laptops.
In the presentation, Mr. Muwanguzi highlighted that laptops provide access to free and useful information, facilitate research, interactivity and networking. “Computers play an important role in our lives. However, we must use them properly and effectively,” he said.
Mr. Muwanguzi also cautioned Scholars on thugs who can take advantage of their innocence and steal their laptops. “Moving with these laptops from class to class and at the night is very risky. Take care of your laptops because if you handle them carelessly someone will take them from you,” he said.
Pellusce Kabarokole- a third year student pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Science with Education shared a personal life story that touched many people.
“I never thought of being an important person in the future because I had no hope of continuing with my studies after the death of my father in a fatal accident. However, I am so happy that I have managed to reach this far because MasterCard Foundation Scholarship Program has supported me,” she happily testified.
Kabarokole said that she focused on science courses to change the attitude that sciences were meant for boys. “Many girls in my village fear to pursue science courses thinking that they are meant for boys. So I want to prove to them that even girls can do science courses and excel,” she said.
The Senior Public Relations Officer, Makerere University, Ms. Ritah Namisango reiterated the need for the Scholars to use the laptops for the best purpose. “Many students would like to have personal laptops, but they don’t have the required financial resources. You are lucky to have a scholarship with a comprehensive package that includes a laptop. Please use the laptops to excel in academics, research and networking,” she said.
During the occasion, the Vice Chancellor also launched the “AlumNet” a Scholar’s Magazine that provides a platform to all Scholars to express their views and opinions about the MCF Scholars Program and other topical issues.
The MCF Communication and Web Officer Mr. Bernard Buteera Butare, highlighted that the AlumNet is an Annual Scholars Magazine that focuses on providing vital information on the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program Network at Makerere University and the alumni of the Program after they have completed their studies.
“In this maiden issue of 2016-2017, you will find stories and activities undertaken. In here, you will also find the scholars stories, testimonies in forms of writings and pictorials. So flip through all the pages and you will be treated to a lot of infotainment,” he explained.
The Award Ceremony was graced by important people including: MasterCard Foundation Mentors, Members of the MasterCard Steering Committee, College Principals, Acting Director of Makerere University Gender and Mainstreaming Directorate Ms. Florence Nyachwo, Acting Director of Makerere University Directorate of Legal Affairs Mr. Goddy Muhumuza, Acting Director of Makerere University Internal Audit Mr. Patrick Akonyet and Manager, Makerere University Counseling and Guidance Centre, Mr. Henry Nsubuga.
Written by: Mak News Reporters