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What Comboni College has bagged in Stanbic Bank Innovation Challenge

(Last Updated On: 27 August 2023)

Lira | Comboni College in Lira district emerged as the overall winner of the 2023 Stanbic National Schools Championship (NSC).

The competition for this year kicked off in March.

The school won a fully installed solar system worth UGX20 million, a laptop each for the participating students, and UGX1.2 million for the teacher responsible.

Stanbic Bank organises the competition annually to empower the participants to become a generation of innovative job creators with appropriate knowledge and life skills such as managing personal finances, entrepreneurship, and business management.

This year’s competition ran under the theme: ‘Empowering the job creators of tomorrow” with the 2023 tagline, ‘Powering Innovation for Job Creation.’

Further, the challenge is intended to encourage learners to develop innovative solutions to the challenges in their communities.

The NSC is a four-category competition, including students (Startup Challenge), schools with existing businesses that competed in Startup the previous year (BizGrow Challenge); alumni (AlumGrow Challenge); and teachers (TeachGrow Challenge).

With the cooperation of the Ministry of Education and Sports, more than 420,000 students have participated in the NSC since its launch in 2016.

A hundred schools participated in this year’s edition, and 40 of these were new signups. Participating students went through various competitive knockout stages before the final winners of this year’s competition, Comboni College were announced.

The Comboni College team developed a solar concentrator: a clean energy alternative cooking stove that uses solar energy to cook food as an alternative to charcoal, briquettes, and firewood stoves, which are harmful to the environment.

Speaking to TND News Nancy Atim, Boniface Ajoli, a teacher who mentored the two students noted that despite the stiff competition with the different schools, their hope of winning the competition was massive.

“We initiated the solar concentrator that uses clean energy as an alternative to using charcoal and firewood which in the long run can address the issue of climate change. When you look at the Lango sub-region, issues of deforestation are on the rise for charcoal burning due to the high demand for charcoal coupled with the high poverty levels biting the locals….,” said Ajoli.

He also attributed their win to teamwork, endurance and discipline portrayed by the learners during the competition.

Michael Okao, a senior two student from the victorious Comboni College, said that the catalyst to their victory was the knowledge and guidance they received from their teachers in line with the new curriculum.

Okao, who appreciated the efforts of his parents, challenged his fellow students to be persistent and calm while dealing with issues of innovation.

“When you love innovation, you don’t give up because each failure you encounter pushes you closer to perfection. You don’t need to rush in matters of innovation, one step at a time leads you to your goal,” Okao added.

When asked about the brand new laptop he received from the competition, Okao said the device will aid and further his research and also widen his knowledge base on innovation, adding the world of ICT is evolving daily.

Just like his fellow team member, Darius Ogwang, a senior three student urged the learners to embrace and have the love of learning especially in the world of innovation to further enhance job creation.

“Let the sky be the limit in the world of innovation, especially now that innovation is the way to go. The new curriculum needs application of learnt knowledge not telling stories,” Ogwang added.

Okao’s parent, Peter Ayo appreciated the entire teaching staff of Comboni College for embracing and emphasizing the new curriculum, something he says will help in nurturing innovators that will build the nation.

Ayo, however, called upon the Ministry of Education and Sports, the government and Stanbic Bank to continuously support the rich minds in the innovation world.

“Do not only stop at gifting these young boys and girls, the government should come out and support them. These great young minds have to be supported to create jobs and this will definitely curb the high rates of unemployment of the youths immediately after school since most of them will be self-employed but only through maximum support,” Ayo added.

While submitting his welcoming remarks to the victors and the entire school community, the head teacher of Comboni College, Bua John Charles gave credit to the Robotics club members who portrayed discipline, hard work and above all teamwork during the competition.

Bua also encouraged other clubs in Comboni College, among others the Environment club, to learn from the Robotic clubs and be hopeful once selected for any competition.

Officiating at the grand finale held on August 11, State Minister for Higher Education, Dr John C. Muyingo, praised the Stanbic NSC initiative for being in line with the new lower secondary school curriculum.

Muyingo said equipping children with a business mindset at a young age is essential, as it allows them to approach the future with a sense of responsibility and resilience.

“The sight of our young people actively engaging their minds and looking for practical solutions to certain problems captures the essence of what the Ministry of Education and Sports aspires to achieve. Through competency-based education, we want to harness the full potential of our learners by giving them room to innovate and room to think,” he said.

Muyingo, who is also a school owner and renowned teacher, applauded the participants as confident young people who do not shy away from challenges.

He was speaking on behalf of the Minister for Education and Sports, Mrs Janet Kataah Museveni.

“These confident young people who do not shy away from challenges, as you have seen, will surely be in a better position to bring us closer to the realization of our ambitious national development agenda.”

Annually, 200 business ideas are mooted by the students, and to date, nearly 200 startups have been brought to life, along with numerous growth stories from alumni and patron teachers, as a direct result of the championship.

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