The CoST social accountability approach has become an eye opener for most stakeholders including the youth in higher institutions of learning. This was depicted from the recent training carried out at Kyambogo University in Kampala to engage the youth in transparency efforts through training on access to and use of information and procurement with regard to public infrastructure projects.
The students were also trained on the use of transparency tools, open data portals and CoST including the infrastructure monitoring tool to inform their citizens’ role in infrastructure transparency.
The students continuously appreciated the training and said that this would help them engage with their own infrastructure even before going out to monitor infrastructure projects within their communities as well as university.
Uganda has a constitution, 1995 (amended) under Article 41, which speaks about protection of whistle-blowers; promotion of transparency and accountability in government by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information; and empowerment of the public to effectively scrutinize and participate in government decisions that affect them. With the availability of the online portals such as the Government Procurement Portal and askyourgov.ug, information can also be easily accessed and information requests made and responded to when addressed to the right agency/entity.
The youth comprise 77% of Uganda’s population; they are an active citizenry and the future of tomorrow. These are tomorrow’s procurement officials, engineers, development and parents of tomorrow. The country risks losing its future in-case of failure to build the capacity of the youth to take up the mantle of delivering better infrastructure tomorrow, from our experience in high institutions of learning, the youth are ambitious, anxious, and zealous to learn and replicate the knowledge. This thus calls for continued engagements with the youth, and creating an enabling learning and practicing environment for them to grow experience and expertise in infrastructure transparency.
Uganda of tomorrow requires an empathetic, and energetic population therefore, the need to build their capacity to realize their full potential to steer the Uganda of tomorrow. Growing ethics and integrity of the youth while in school is very important; the CoST approach through access to information, understanding the principles of transparency and accountability, ethics in infrastructure and procurement informs better informed and responsible future leaders and civil servants.
Youth participation in public infrastructure even within their universities is still being challenged by the issue of lack of information, inadequate capacity for the youth/students to engage in monitoring projects and limited mandate to hold them accountable even when the law of the land provides them the right to hold decision makers accountable, the youth have no such information that provides for their active participation in matters of good governance.
Access to information is a driver to participation and issue based advocacy, it also informs their participation and involvement in awareness raising amidst their peers on these matters. Infrastructure monitoring requires joint efforts right from all levels and this involves the youth in schools. The youth in engineering departments are able to compare concepts with practice and experience, this enables them grow into responsible and accountable citizens. It is important that such engagements are not only promoted but organized most often, the youth across various institutions actually need capacity.