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KAS has been giving out scholarships for distance learning degrees at Uganda Martyr's University in the field of Democracy and Development Studies, and Local Governance and Human Rights for over a decade now. The aim of the programme is to enable future leaders to attain higher qualifications in the areas of governance, human rights, and democracy promotion to become drivers for positive change in their communities and their country.
Ms. Anna Hofmann, one of the organizers from the KAS side, gave a few words on the purpose of the event, namely to keep track of the network as well as of each other, before Mathias Kamp, the new KAS Country Representative, officially opened the Scholarship Holders Meeting with some welcoming remarks. He used this opportunity to introduce himself as the Head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Uganda and South Sudan to the scholars as well as KAS as an organization itself. Since the foundation is an expert on the field of scholarships he explained what a scholarship in general means and also gave an overview of what KAS expects from the students they are supporting and what the scholars could expect from KAS in return. Mr. Kamp emphasised the strong element of networking, which means to become a member of the KAS family and which could be seen as a valuable resource for both the organisation and the scholarship holders. But in order to use this resource he stated that it was of importance for the scholarship holders to know who KAS is, to share the foundation’s values and to show commitment to the programme. Going beyond just funding university education, he believes that together they could shape careers and personalities as future leaders.
In order to provide the current scholarship holders and alumni with additional opportunities to further their skills and knowledge on the core topics related to KAS's work in Uganda, KAS invited Assoc. Prof. Yasin Olum, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science and Public Adminstration of Makerere University, to speak about local governance in the country. As an expert on the local government framework, he held a presentation on the current local governance system, highlighting the gains and challenges for Uganda’s development aspirations. According to him, one of the main problems Uganda had to face was the gap between the de jure status and the de facto degree to which local governments are able to control local affairs.
This keynote presentation formed the basis for the following lively plenary session. Having set the foundation for the debate, Prof. Olum tried to answer as many question as possible and through this kept the positive and inquisitive atmosphere up. Although the attendees see the Ugandan model of decentralization as a good system for effective service delivery, they also agreed that it does no longer reach the people. Against this background, the group discussed whether decentralization is a myth or the truth in Uganda and came to the conclusion that the decentralization policy needed to go back to the drawing board, especially when it came to budgeting and resource allocation. Other questions raised by the participants concerned the contribution of the education system as well as the role of the people within the local governance system. Prof. Olum closed the session by summarizing that education and knowledge is the key to build up a stable democracy where the power belongs to the people to ensure that Ugandans demand for services according to their needs and are not misgoverned. He pointed out that KAS with this meeting is already planting the seeds for such a civic education.
Before the participants could share their thoughts and ideas in a more informal setting, they decided to start a newsletter as a new platform for exchange where all members could share interesting opportunities and news as quickly as possible.
The workshop resulted in a more involved group of KAS scholarship holders and alumni that are informed about and committed to the goal of developing and engaging in the governance of their country.
Author: Maxi Ludwig, KAS intern