Higher Education Access Program (HEAP)

Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Uganda Chapter in partnership with the Forum for African Women Educationalists Regional Secretariat (FAWE RS) and the MasterCard Foundation are implementing, an eight-year (2016 – 2024) Higher Education Access Program to enable 300 young women and men (70% female and 30% male)  from economically disadvantaged regions of Uganda access, and transition through higher education and secure employment in sectors that contribute to the development of their communities and country.
The Higher Education Access Program (HEAP) is focused on providing bursaries to 300 academically able students from economically disadvantaged regions and districts of Uganda;  to access and complete higher education, design and implement a (pilot)    pre-entry bridging program to provide second chance opportunities for promising students to transition into university degree programs and provide academic and psycho-social support and facilitate pathways for students to internships, industrial practice and employment.
The Chief Guest Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, Minister of Science Technology & Innovation, Mr. Peter Materu, Director of Education, Livelihoods and Youth at Mastercard Foundation, Prof. Mary Okwakol Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education, ED FAWE Africa and Uganda, other Guests and Program Participants at the Launch of the Higher Education Access Program in Uganda.
Why partner with the MasterCard Foundation
Through FAWE, MasterCard Foundation is sponsoring 334 students in a bid to bridge the gap between the poor and rich. The foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa.
As one of the largest, independent foundations, its mission is to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006.
The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is developing Africa’s next generation of leaders. The program allows students whose talent and promise exceed their financial resources to complete their education. With a vision that education is a catalyst for social and economic change, the program focuses on developing leaders who are trans-formative, encouraging them to be active contributors in their communities. The Program provides financial, social, and academic support to Scholars. Financial support includes, but is not limited to, tuition fees, accommodation, books, and other scholastic materials.
  • Launch and Roll-out of the Higher Education Access Certificate (HEAC) Curriculum
On 25th July, 2019 FAWE Uganda in partnership with the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) launched the Higher Education Access Certificate (HEAC) Curriculum. The curriculum was designed to build firm foundation in academic knowledge, skills and attitudes of the students through innovative teaching and learning experiences.  It is a short intensive course designed to assist students who may not meet the assumed knowledge requirements of a course or who may not be confident with their preparation for university studies; hence providing an additional a venue for them to access higher education in Uganda.
To date, 60 (23F and 37M) program participants have been enrolled on the HEAC program at Busitema University and 30 (20M and 10F) Lecturers/ Facilitators were trained and are supporting students at Busitema University. FAWE Uganda is currently implementing the program in the 3 partner Universities of Busitema, Gulu and Mbarara University of Science and Technology and it is also open to other private educations in the country, and open to both Ugandan citizens and the global community.
The Chief Guest Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education, Mrs. Martha Muhwezi, the Chief Executive Officer of FAWE Africa, Mrs. Atim Mugenyi the FAWE Uganda Board Chairperson, Mrs. Susan Opok Tumusiime, the FAWE Uganda Executive Director & other guests posing for a group photo at the launch of the HEAC
  • Launch and Roll-out of the Extended Orientation Program (EOP)
From inception, FAWE Uganda has been implementing the Extended Orientation Program (EOP) to support students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds settle in, compete favorably and successfully complete their studies at the various institutions of higher learning. They are taken through topics such as financial literacy, communication and life skills, career mapping, conflict resolution, higher education familiarization environment and, gender roles and responsibilities. Psychosocial and counseling support is provided to build self-esteem, instill academic discipline and ability to overcome challenges of life including; sexual and gender based harassment/violence while at school.
All the 334 (206F and 128M) program participants have been successfully empowered with skills in leadership, knowledge on financial management and computer use. This has enabled them fully settle and compete favorably with the rest of the students in university. They are able to effectively budget and manage their finances prudently, socialize and behave well at both university and beyond.  To date, 60% of the program participants have taken up leadership roles at various institution including representation at guild councils, group and class associations.
HEAP Beneficiaries
The Chief Guest, Prof. George Lada Openjuru, the Vice Chancellor of Gulu University, Mrs. Irene Kiiza-Onyango, the FAWE Uganda Board Member and other guests posing for a group photo with the Program Participants at the closure of the extended orientation program Session at Gulu University.
  • Mentor-ship and Psycho-social Support for Program Participants
A total of 26 program participants (14F and 12M); another 17 from the 5 partner institutions of learning and 9 FAWE Uganda staff were empowered with mentoring skills. This helped build their self-esteem, academic discipline in order to overcome challenges of life while at school to guarantee higher completion rates.
  • Program Participants Giving Back to the Community
295 (226F and 69M) program participants from the 5 partner institutions participated in the international MasterCard foundation give back day during the month of November 2019. Learners engaged in a number of activities including; visiting prisons, donation of basic necessities like salt, sugar and basins to the less privileged, and sensitization of the public on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in communities.  This has resulted to the formation and strengthening of give back associations at institutions and district level.
MCF Student's Innovations During the Covid-19 Lockdown Period
Amanya attending to his mushroom project during the COVID19 Pandemic lockdown
 Trevor Amanya, is a 3rd year student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree of Science in Agriculture at Busitema University and hails from Ntoroko district.
Following the announcement of the lockdown and closure of learning institutions, I thought this would last a period of 2 – 3 months, which is not the case we seem to be heading to a dead year now, because it’s now over 6 month since when schools closed and there’s no hope of opening soon.
As a result, I thought of ways I could keep myself busy and productive to my family especially in terms of being able to support provide some basic necessities like food and other individual things I may need.
Consequently, I decided to use part of my savings to start mushroom production. I commenced the project in the month of June 2020, and I have so far injected a total of UGX. 189,000/=
This was informed by the short gestation period of the project compared to other ventures. I also had knowledge as I learnt from colleagues at the university and they have even been resourceful during this period of implementation. They guided me on the best materials to use including; spawns (seeds), cotton husks, a metallic drum, ropes, polyethene bags (kaveera), jik, spirit, cotton  and some wood. I started off with 14 seeds and one sack of cotton husks which resulted into 54 gardens.
This project has helped keep me busy, with the routine activities involved like steaming, inspection, watering, harvesting, packaging and marketing.
I have also acquired practical skills of running a business. Concentrating on the project saves me the stress and anxiety of staying at home while wondering when schools will open or whether I will graduate as originally planned.
Just in a period of one month and a half, I have earned UGX. 86, 000/= and I expect to earn over UGX. 800,000/= after selling the first batch, end of September 2020. I am also adding value to the mushrooms by packaging some fresh, drying and turning them into powder form. Part of the income from the project supplements our family earnings/finances, used to purchase some household items in addition to acquiring my personal necessities as a young adult. The venture has enabled me apply what I learned in class.
With the lockdown unlikely to end soon, I hope to keep engaging in mushroom production as it yields quickly. The only challenge I am facing is finding market for the harvest. For sustainability, I have equipped my mother with the knowledge to run it and when school resumes either by next year or later, I will leave her running it as I monitor the project on phone and periodically visiting.  
As an agricultural professional, I hope to save more money and venture into commercial agriculture soon.
Mercy making pancakes
Kalende Mercy is one of the Program participants currently pursuing the Higher Education Access Program at Busitema University.
When the COVID 19 pandemic lockdown was announced in Uganda, I ventured into hygiene related projects. I ran a campaign to help donate pads to girls in Eastern Uganda, unfortunately the numbers were overwhelming and due to limited funds we were not able to support all of the girls. I too ventured in Agriculture and managed to harvest a basin of beans.
Following the little savings, I was left with when schools closed due to the Corona Virus pandemic. I started the pancake making business. I purchased 10kgs of cassava flour, a dozen packet of baking powder, a 10 litre jerry can of cooking oil and a bucket for selling pan cakes etc.
I started the business and it was doing well. I managed to purchase food for home .i.e. 100kgs of maize flour to accompany the beans that was already harvested at home for feeding of the family. The earnings from the business has helped in buying other house hold necessities like soap, sugar, and salt among others. I have also managed to save UGX. 30,000/= every week which I hope to use to purchase young turkeys and also rent a small land where I can rear them.
The encouragement, knowledge and hope I have today are a result of the mentoring programs that that I have been benefited from FAWE Uganda. They have helped me a lot to start the different income generating activities, keep busy and deal with the stress resulting from failure to reopen schools; lack of money and the times losses you make from running business. I have also gained motivation not give up in life.
For instance, I started the oyster mushroom growing but stopped soon because I was in the village and there was no market. I made a huge loss because it was also a rainy season in which mushrooms grow on their own and people harvest them for free hence they could buy mine. The huge losses, left in debt since I hadn’t even paid the owner of the small piece of land and house that I had rented to grow the mushrooms. I also had not fully paid for the spawns as I had expected to pay all the money after reaping from the business.
Consequently, I thought I would never recover from that loss but I thank God, because he lifted me up again. I received airtime from FAWE Uganda which I have used to watch YouTube videos “Do It Yourself (DIY) projects” where I have learnt a lot of hands on skills like crotchety and designing. It is also on YouTube that I learnt how to make delicious pancakes.
I have also continued to do research to learn and improve my skills including the Speak your mind contests. I also attended an online class called we LEARN school which helped me do a lot of self-discovery. So personally, the upkeep, airtime facilitation and currently online mentoring have helped me a lot in addition to running my different initiatives. I now serve as an example or a living testimony to my friends.
Mugabi David is a born of Mayuge District-Lugolole Village, and currently pursuing the Higher Education Access Certificate Program in English Language and Literature at Busitema University. He’s born in a family of 8 children, 3 not in school due to family challenges and inability of their single mother to raise school fees.  
Despite all the challenges we faced while growing up. I thank God for everything because he gave me talent for art and the ability to work hard.
“I grew-up talented and with the dream of helping my Mother who was solely responsible for raising us up. When I joined secondly school, I became creative in different aspects of Art. I used to help my Fine Art teacher with painting and he used to support me meet some scholastic materials.”
In S.3, one of the tasks was to make a sign post and made a very nice one, everyone at school appreciated. Our teacher started marketing my talent and I started getting some art jobs. I designed talking compounds at schools and I was given the opportunity to study for free for the service I offered to the school. This reduced the burden of paying school fees to my mother and gave her room to be able to support my other siblings.
Later on, I teamed up with a group of painters in the village to do painting works. I was getting jobs, but was earning less but that helped me meet my educational needs including buying books, uniform and also supporting my siblings.
In S.5 I decide to secure a business name (G2 artists and painters) which I am currently using. This talent has helped me a lot especially during this current COVID 19 pandemic lock down.
As a result of closure of schools, I returned home without anything left in my pocket.  While home, I started getting some jobs, got some money and bought 100kgs of maize flour for my family members to survive on during the COVID 19 tough times.
Whenever I get a job during these hard times, I make sure that I stock up some food at home.
During this time, I have learnt a lot, improved my skills and able to do a wide array of things including; wall branding, wall painting, T-shirt printing, Badge designing and printing, classic sign posts and any other items in line with art work.
When I have much work, I call my friends to help me though I currently have two boys I work with full time. I too have a vision of registering a company so that I am able to compete for big contracts within the district and beyond.
I am multi-talented, I have been able to design masks that tailored and branded for the Mayuge FAWE Student’s Association that will be distributed to people in our community freely as a way of giving back to the community following the Ministry of Health guidelines on the prevention of COVID 19.
I too have skills in carpentry, which knowledge I acquired during my S.4 vacation when I worked with Mayuge Sugar Industries in the carpentry sector where I learnt timber products including luxurious boards. To keep improving my skill, I work with a friend, the senior carpenter previously employed by the company but self employed now, where I keep learning a lot of things.
The work, I engage in helps me in earning extra income, as I plan to become successful in the future. I appreciate the skill; I have because I am able to associate with intellectual people in my community including different politicians and business men whom I am learning from, emulating and sharing their success stories. I look forward to becoming a respectable, helpful and a great business man in my community and beyond.  I too contribute towards building up this country through creating jobs for other young people so that they are able to supporting their families including paying school fees for their children.