Due to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is on record that Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) did not issue national exams for the year 2021.
This happened because 2020 was so chaotic that the 2020 national exams for all levels (primary, O-Level and A-Level) were done in 2021.
We are yet to fully recover from the disruptions brought about by Covid-19, especially in the education sector.
Until now, the normal semester system (August-December, and February-May), and term system in secondary and vocational schools are not yet fully aligned.
The Ministry of Education and Sports is taking steps to realign the school calendar to pre-pandemic times which is a good thing.
However, I would like to bring to light how government scholarships may be awarded this year.
As you may be aware, the government sponsors 4,000 students to study in public universities each year, 3,000 under national merit scheme, and the remaining 1,000 under district quota, sports, and disability scheme. These students mostly comprise those who sat for their Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education exams (UACE) in the previous year.
But this year presents a unique, unprecedented situation, because there were no UACE exams in 2021.
So, where will the government scholarships, and loan scheme beneficiaries come from? Many who sat for the 2020 UACE in 2021, are now pursuing their undergraduate studies, of course under private sponsorship.
To be eligible for the government loan scheme, the student is expected to have passed UACE well, should be from a humble family, and should have gained admission to university, especially for science courses. Additionally, one should submit the loan application form, and pay the loan processing fee to Higher Education Student Financing Board (HESFB).
So, these are two great opportunities that offer those students who passed UACE and are still at home, due to one reason or the other, but are interested in pursuing university education.
They say success is where preparation meets opportunity. These opportunities will not come to you when you have not put in effort. Therefore, in order to position yourself for these great study opportunities, this is what you should do.
If you are a student targeting government scholarships (national merit, and district quota) you have to get a PUJAB form, fill it, and submit.
It is only those who have duly filled PUJAB forms who are eligible for these scholarships. And while selecting study programmes, make sure you weigh your points against those of the programme you are applying for.
There are programmes that are usually given to the national merit scheme, and those for district quota scheme.
If you are targeting a loan scheme, you need to have university admission before you can apply. Therefore, now is the time for you to apply, but ensure that the university and the study programme you are applying for must be among those supported by the Higher Education Student Financing Board (HESFB).
Important to note is that the loan scheme is biased towards Science study programmes (80 percent), and the remaining (20 percent) reserved for Arts/Humanities programmes for People living with Disabilities (PWDs).
In the 2021/2022 academic year, 44.5 percent of loan scheme beneficiaries were female, which is great, considering the fact that girls constitute about 40 percent of UACE candidates every year.
Application for loan scheme is now done online, and all supporting documents asked for must be provided.
Access to information like this is important, because it helps get many poor, vulnerable but bright young people to benefit from government scholarships. After all, government scholarships come from our taxes.
I, therefore, call upon the Ministry of Education and Sports, together with HESFB to come out and clarify, or guide how government scholarships, and loan scheme beneficiaries will be awarded.
Emmanuel Angoda is the founder of Centre for Skills and Innovation, and teacher at Lira Town College