A logo of Agrostudies in Israel

The government of Israel has extended the period of Ugandan Students who are in Israel for the Agro studies on International Apprenticeship Program academic year 2019/2020 to stay for another eleven months on extension program.

Every year, Uganda sends students from over 20 agricultural institutions of learning which includes, Makerere university, Kyambogo university, Bishop Stuart university, Bukalasa Agricultural College, Busitema university Busoga university among others, to Israel on an eleven months’ apprenticeship program, a program that started in 2013 to help students acquire practical experience and skills to work in commercial farms.

In the academic year 2019/2020, two hundred fifty students (250) were admitted for this program and their apprenticeship period is ending in September 2020 and they are supposed to be returning.

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However, in a letter dated 10th august, to Vice chancellors, Principals, directors, deans and coordinators of partner institutions signed by Yaron Tamir, the CEO Agro studies in Israel, says, they requested the government of the state of Israel to extend the stay of their students for another 11 months and Israel agreed.

Tamir says they carried out a survey among their students asking those who wanted to extend their stay and those who wanted to return to their countries and 15 out of 250 students chose to return stating various reasons and 235 chose to stay for another eleven months due to the changes brought in by Covid-19 pandemic.

“As Agro studies, we will ensure that those students who choose to return will do so safely as soon as possible,” the letter reads in part.

He explains that they resorted to this 11 months’ extension because of the pandemic that changed the world by closing airports, closed borders among others. Adding that, where students are in Israel are safer and they are needed for the continuity of farm work since they will not be able to have the next batch of students easily.

According to the regional and national coordinator of Agro studies International Apprenticeship Program in Uganda, Issa Agaba Mugabo, fifteen students (15) shall return on 5th September 2020.

He notes that they are working hard with the Health ministry, ministry of foreign affairs and they are in final stages to ensure that those students return safely. He notes that they have already got a quarantine center from the ministry of health and that ministry of foreign affairs has cleared them.

According to this letter, overall, there are three hundred (300) students who chose to return to their countries. This means that next academic year, Israel shall accept only 300 students to replace them.

Tamir says that because of the good working relationship Israel has with Ugandan institutions and the warm cordial relations between Uganda and Israel. Uganda has been given a slot of 150-250 students to replace those who will return.

This means that next academic year 2020/2021, Uganda will have up to 473 students in Israel. And because of that slot of 150-250 students to replace those who will return, the next Uganda academic year is not affected.

Over 200 students had qualified for the next academic intake and they were waiting for the last intake to come back so that they would go. However, Mugabo says that because of disruptions brought in by Covid-19, it might not be easy to have all the students to go. Adding that, they have to send those who will be available.

According to Tamir, they will provide necessary security measures to guarantee their health including full medical insurance which covers Covid-19, and they will send a charter flight to take them directly to Israel.

Commenting on how the students for academic year 2020/2021 who were supposed to be going for their program, Mugabo says they are working with the institutions and they will come up with the final plan on how students will be sent to Israel.

And he notes that they are optimistic that they will raise this number of students they have been asked to send.

“We usually have students who fails to go because different issues like failing to get travel documents in time, so if the applicants we have fail to take up this chance, we shall send those we shall be with.”

According to Mugabo, over one thousand six hundred (1600) have already benefited from this program since 2013.