March 10, 2021 – Late last month, the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) held a graduation ceremony for the 85 trainees who successfully completed the vocational training courses we offer at our Community Learning Center in Uganda’s Karamoja Sub-Region. The courses – which include ones in Conflict Resolution Education, Information & Communications Technology, Business & Entrepreneurship, and Arts & Crafts – all aim to provide participants with practical skills that they can use in their daily or professional lives. With their trainings complete, these 85 individuals can harness newly gained knowledge and tools to better both their lives as well as the lives of others in their communities.
In November of last year, WPDI launched standalone training courses at our newest Community Learning Center located in Moroto, the largest city in the Karamoja Sub-Region. We were highly satisfied that, as soon as we started advertising the courses, we received an overwhelming number of applicants. That our programs would garner such interest so early on is a telling sign of the needs and aspirations of local communities. As one of the poorest and most vulnerable sub-regions in all of Uganda, Karamoja is unquestionably in need of solutions to help spur peace and sustainable development, and its people are eager to gain tools that will help them create long-term opportunities for themselves and others.
Ultimately, due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we could only admit 148 trainees to the four basic-level standalone courses. After receiving twelve weeks of specialized training, 104 trainees sat for the final exams, with 85 passing them and receiving graduation certificates on February 23. After the graduation ceremony, trainees took stock of their experiences. Francis, an Information & Communications Technology trainee, told us that “I loved learning about computers and how to use Microsoft Excel. I dream of having my own business, and the tools I learned are essential to success. I want to keep learning and will enroll in the course’s next level.” Frida, an Arts & Crafts course trainee, mentioned how “I learned a lot of things, but what interested me the most was learning how to make earrings. Since the training, I started making them and selling them for 15,000 ($4) each. I plan on next opening a crafts shop with three other women in Moroto. I have become a job maker!”
Later in the spring, WPDI plans to offer more standalone courses at our Community Learning Center in Moroto, including at the intermediate level to accommodate the many graduates who plan to further their training with us. As we prepare to welcome more trainees, our hope is to empower hundreds and thousands of people from the area with new tools and skills that they can mobilize in the interest of peace and economic development in the sub-region.