detail - Uganda Office
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In her welcoming remarks, Rhona Rugambwa of KAS underlined that the foundation has given out over 200 scholarships for distance learning degrees at UMU in the field of Democracy and Development Studies, and Local Governance and Human Rights, enabling students from Uganda and more recently, South Sudan, to attain higher qualifications in these areas to become future leaders. The scholarship holders are also part of the global KAS Alumni network, which has over 10.000 members worldwide. Most recently, UMU introduced a Master’s Degree in Research and Public Policy, the only one of its kind in Uganda and most of Africa. This programme is also open to scholarship holders.
The 60 participants then got to hear from alumni of the program as well as a current scholarship holder. Alumni Racheal Mpiriiwe explained how the research skills she acquired during her studies helped her win an award from the United States Embassy. The remarks reflected the fact that apart from academic aspects, the scholarship holders also benefit greatly from the networking opportunities arising from the program.
Uganda is facing a number of development challenges, such as high youth unemployment, women exclusion, corruption and the erosion of democratic values. Therefore, this year’s meeting focused on transformative leadership: how can the scholarship holders act as catalysts to illuminate good governance and democratic values in their respective spaces? Yusuf Kiranda from the Centre for Development Alternatives held a thought-provoking presentation on this topic. He highlighted that a transformative leader works with his or her team to identify positive change, create a vision for change and then execute that change. Mr. Kiranda emphasized that leadership is about mobilizing and inspiring others, while building coalitions to reconcile competing interests. Because leaders cannot change everything in their circle of concern, they should focus on their circle of influence to create meaningful impacts. Change usually produces winners and losers, meaning leaders need to both mobilize their allies and win over their opponents. The importance of the context in which one is situated was also discussed: different contexts demand different ways of doing things.
The participants then engaged in a lively discussion on transformative change and the results of the presentation in the context of the current political situation in Uganda. It was highlighted that change cannot occur without the dominant elite. Therefore, informal institutions must take action at the margins to influence society as a whole.
Apart from discussing issues of interest for university students, the meeting was also used to constructively discuss avenues of improving the scholarship programme as well as future corporation with KAS in the different development issues that the KAS Uganda office is involved in.
The meeting was concluded with the presentation of contracts to the new scholarship holders from Uganda and South Sudan.