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Empowering through education

In the heart of Terego district, Northwestern Uganda, stands St. Jude Omugo Technical School. Established in 1985 amidst the ravages of war in the country, the school embarked on a noble mission to uplift the economic landscape of a devastated community. From its humble beginnings with just 21 students, the institution has grown to accommodate over 1,000 learners today, marking a significant milestone in the region's journey towards recovery and development.

The year 2021 heralded a new era for St. Jude Omugo Technical School, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Malteser International in Uganda, and Kulika Uganda. This partnership embarked on a transformative project that resulted in the construction of three classroom blocks with nine classrooms, two dormitories (each accommodating 64 students), a library and improved bathroom and latrine facilities, all utilizing zero-carbon, environmentally friendly technology. Batteries were also installed at the solar-powered plant ensuring uninterrupted classes and activities. Additionally, the school's gateway and perimeter fencing received a complete makeover, ensuring a safe and conducive learning environment.

In addition to physical enhancements, the project placed a strong emphasis on skill development. Twenty school staff members and instructors underwent a 12-day reskilling exercise at various institutions, aligning their expertise with the demands of modern vocational training. The school was further equipped with brand new tools, materials, and equipment to support ten courses, including building & landscaping, carpentry, motor vehicle mechanics, electrical installation, plumbing, and fashion and design, among others.

Hope and opportunity for refugees and locals alike

The deputy head teacher of St. Jude Omugo Technical School, Andruga Jimmy, has expressed deep appreciation for the transformative work by Malteser and Kulika. He believes that the quality of the improvements will benefit generations to come, solidifying the school's role as a pivotal agent of change in the community. Catering to both Ugandan nationals and predominantly South Sudanese refugees, the school offers both formal courses (two to three years) and informal courses (three to six months), which have become exceedingly popular. These programs significantly support labor market integration and enhance the school's reputation within the community.

Strategically situated between Imvepi and Rhino refugee camps, the school has become an accessible haven for refugees seeking education and skill development. Malteser has also constructed two innovation centers in these areas, which are used for Creative Capacity Building (CCB) trainings, other educational programs, and community meetings. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the institution adapted swiftly by introducing satellite classes to ensure uninterrupted learning. The addition of solar facilities has alleviated previous electricity challenges, enabling students to study at night and utilize computer labs effectively.

A bright future ahead

The success of St. Jude Omugo Technical School has not gone unnoticed, with demand for its courses soaring. Community members frequently approach the deputy headmaster, eager to learn about the next enrollment dates, testament to the school's impactful presence in the region. The flexible and short duration of informal courses particularly appeals to women with families and individuals juggling other responsibilities, offering them a viable path to economic empowerment.

Amen Emmanuel, a project manager at Kulika, highlights the project's success and the urgent need for additional buildings to accommodate the growing interest and enrollment. The upskilling of instructors has not only enhanced the quality of education but has also broadened the economic prospects for graduates, transforming lives and communities through the power of education.

St. Jude Omugo Technical School's story showcases the transformative power of education and partnership in rebuilding communities, turning challenges into opportunities for a brighter future.

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