The 5th edition of the Stanbic National Schools Championship 2020 is still on-going with the theme ‘Empowering the job creators of tomorrow’. Barbara Kasekende, the Manager Corporate Social Investment (CSI) at Stanbic Bank spoke to EABW Digital News about the journey so far, what has been achieved and what to expect this year.
Has the Championship met your expectations fours since they were launched?
It has definitely met our expectations and beyond! When we started this program our aim was to empower our young minds with a focus on Financial Literacy, Life Skills and Entrepreneurship to shape our future generation to be holistic job creators. We started with 32 schools in 2016 and today we are at 100 schools.
Over 100,000 students, 200 teachers and communities have been impacted by this project. Over 400 business ideas have been generated with 50 businesses already on the ground.
The aim is to create shared value in the societies and environment in which we operate by shaping the mindset and instilling a thinking out of the box mentality for both our youth and the teachers. For we believe that an empowered child/youth leads to the development and growth of this country!
Why have you retained the same theme for the last three years?
Uganda’s population today is about 45 million with 80% of the people under the age of 30. Of those, over 10 million are in the youth category of which only 11% make it into the employment/business world. So what happens to the rest?
As a responsible corporate citizen, we cannot stand by and watch the future generation dwindle to the current situation where unemployment is concerned. Hence the program theme of ‘Empowering the job creators of tomorrow’. The focus on entrepreneurship and life skills is to empower young people to relate to the new modern world. Uganda is our home and we can only drive sustained growth by empowering the future leaders and job creators of tomorrow.
It is also important to note that the traction towards the theme has been very positive. The programme has not only impacted the schools and students, but also the communities at large.
How different is the competition this year?
This year, we are increasing school participation from 72 to 100 and targeting 60,000 students up from 43,200 and training 100 teachers from the 72 that were trained last year countrywide
We have also reached out to 100 head-teachers this year and taking them through a business and financial management program with a touch of self-development. We have realised that as we continue to skill the students and teachers we should also be doing the same for the leaders so that they fully understand the type of student they have ( the 21st-century digital, tech-savvy) and also understand that a school is a business entity that needs proper planning.
In line with our sustainability plan, we have also introduced a two-tier competition. The first-tier of the championship will be for the new business generation ideas as it has always been. The second-tier will focus on the businesses on the ground with the teams competing for more investments into their enterprises. All teams will get something for their businesses with the prizes ranging from UGX500, 000 to UGX3 million as we seek to ensure that the businesses stay grounded and functional.
In addition to the above, this year we are joining the world to battle climate change and food insecurity. Thus, in partnership with Roofings Limited, we are planting fruit trees in all the 100 schools– the minimum being 10 trees in each school however they can go up to 100. We are providing all the tree seedlings free of charge.
What changes have you made in light of the COVID – 19 situation?
The Championship is still going forward. Like any other programme, our activities had to be altered due to the situation. Since we cannot be in schools physically, we have had to turn to the use of digital platforms.
We have been able to reach the teachers and students online as well as use other immediate avenues like our branches to encourage the schools to forward their business ideas.
For instance, we moved the boot camp to online sessions. We normally bring schools together for skilling sessions but because schools are closed, we had to improvise.
We have been using the Stanbic Facebook live pages to continue skilling the students. Our skilling series is still on-going at the moment. The traction has been great and we have not only been able to skill the students but also been able to reach a much wider audience as well.
Additionally, we are using patron teachers to select the best businesses plan within their school which is submitted to compete at the regional level. You will see we have also introduced business regional judges who will assess all regional business plans remotely to select the top four schools per region who will be tasked to each identify a business opportunity that can be executed during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
They will be assessed by a panel of judges and awarded seed capital to execute the idea. One school per region will be selected to compete in the finals. It is amazing how committed the schools are. They have been swift to adapting to the sudden change in execution of the programme.
What prizes should the winners of the championship look forward to?
We always say everyone who participates in this programme is a winner and that the focus shouldn’t be on the prizes, but on the lessons acquired through the nine months of the championship. However, the teams work really hard so an incentive for appreciation is not a bad idea!
Prizes range from a fully paid trip to South Africa for the winning team to a three-day getaway at a five-star establishment for the 1st runner up. Other prizes for the winning schools include a solar system worth UGX20 million, a UGX10 million water system, ipads, laptops, kindles, bursaries, scholastic materials and plenty more! Please note that patron teachers also benefit from all this. We value their time and efforts in helping us run this program in their respective schools.
In the call for entries, you referred to some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How does the NSC tie into all this?
Our approach has been to invest in sustainable projects within the community. We believe in aligning our projects to the real issues affecting communities; thus our focus on the SDGs.
That having been said, we have ensured that all our schools understand the value of the National Schools Championship and its critical contribution to the SDGs. At any rate, the future of this country lies in their hands!
Under this CSI initiative, we align with eight SDGs: No Poverty, Quality Education, Clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, climate action and partnership
We reference the fight against poverty through the encouragement to create jobs, quality education in encouraging a wholesome curriculum in schools, clean water and sanitation through our provision of a water system for some of the winning schools, affordable and clean energy through the provision of a solar system for the winning school, decent work and economic growth through the programme itself and the creation of businesses, industry innovation and infrastructure by encouraging the schools to think beyond the classroom, climate action by playing a role in promoting renewable energy use and also planting trees to preserve the environment.
As mentioned earlier, a fruit tree planting initiative is on-going in all the schools engaged this year. We have a target to plant over 15,000 trees across the country to tackle both climate change and food insecurity.
Lastly and most importantly, partnerships are a key factor among the SDGs for achieving positive scalable and impactful results. The National Schools Championship has evolved immensely, but for it to go to the next level, partnerships are a key imperative and you will see this year we have a number of partnerships on-board.