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Sports Minister Dennis Hamson Obua yesterday found trouble trying to calm members of parliament who were unhappy with the list he presented detailing beneficiaries of foreign funded scholarships, which was found to lack a national character.
Obua was last week tasked by the Speaker to address the house on the concerns about the unknown number of available scholarships and the criteria followed to award them.
Presenting his findings on Thursday, Obua revealed Uganda receives over 200 scholarships every year from multilateral cooperation arrangements and from individuals like Agha Khan.
These he explained fall at different times of the year and cater for various courses.
He clarified that not all scholarships are directly handled by the Ministry’s Central Scholarship Committee and as such their role is only limited to disseminating this information.
“Some scholarships are directly offered by individual countries and agencies to Ugandans who apply through their websites or agents,” Obua disclosed.
Where government has a hand, he stated that one has to be aged between 25 and 45 to qualify for degree, masters and PhD courses. Furthermore, he said that selection of these courses is guided by the National Development Plan priorities and the process is free from any bureaucracy.
However, when the minister presented list of beneficiaries, Kween Woman MP Lydia Chekwel protested saying although a handful of Eastern Uganda students were included her district had none.
Besides that, Chekwel (NRM) asked whether it was by coincidence that names of her kinsmen were repeated.
“Under Algeria when you look at number 8, 83, 103 and 110 there are actually two students but repeated,” she pointed out.
Former Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza (FDC) regretted that affirmative action was not being taken when it came to the distribution of such opportunities to Uganda’s most impoverished regions.
“When we come to equipping the human resource of this country we are not taking into action the affirmative nature of our areas Northern Uganda, Busoga and eastern Uganda,” Kiiza
On his part, Asuman Basaalirwa asked why the list does not consist of students on scholarship in Muslim Countries such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia among many others.
In an attempt to deflate the growing skepticism on the constitution of the Central Executive Committee, Obua divulged the names of representatives only to discover that two positions were vacant.
Those on the Committee include; Abooki Karugaba, Charles Musoke, Augustine Atubo, Jolly Nzamukunda, Steven Kateregga and Mark Sseremba.
These represent the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Local Government Association, Civil Society, Education Ministry, Public Universities and Ministry of Public Service respectively.
Before she could make her ruling, Speaker Kadaga hinted that it would be prudent if such scholarship opportunities would be made a compulsory part of the ministry’s policy statement.
The speaker also slammed ministry officials for failing to gazette the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board as required by the Higher Education Students’ Financing Act of 2014.