Dutch Govt decision on Ugandan applicants for OKP is malicious, needs review!

A banner calling for applications for the 2023 Orange Knowledge Programme Scholarships from International Students

By Ojok James Onono 

I read with shock that the Dutch Government has abruptly blocked Ugandan applicants from participating in its prestigious ‘Orange Knowledge Programme Scholarship Scheme’ which is one of the biggest capacity-building platforms for Ugandan professionals in the Public and Private sectors in the Netherlands on Human Rights, Agriculture among others.  

To Academic Institutions, the OKP scholarship has been supporting capacity building for Master’s programmes which in the long run has inspired many PhDs. In November 2022, I was a beneficiary of the OKP scholarship for a short training. This got me to the Hague, at the ICC court which made me learn a lot of things with the Dominic Ongwen Case. I was also able to visit the Wageningen University of Research with its beautiful model of building employment contacts with the students and linking employers to the university.

I became a great ambassador of the OKP scholarship to many of my friends who didn’t know it. In March 2023 when the first round of the OKP scholarship was announced, Uganda was still part of the benefiting countries-and many applicants from Uganda were nominated by the Dutch Institutions they applied for various courses, awaiting scholarship decision this month. However, the announcement on the scholarship page tells their fate ‘Due to current circumstances, Sudan and Uganda will not be part of the OKP scholarships application rounds in 2023’.

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Whatever the case, it contravenes the earlier announcement which allowed dozens of applicants from Uganda to apply and be nominated for various programmes. The drastic cuts should have been on phase bases and I highly think is the reaction towards the anti-homosexuality Bill signed into law in May 2023 by the President of the Republic of Uganda.

I feel this decision of the Dutch Government is very archaic and malicious towards innocent applicants who took their time with the hope to excel and be knocked out unfairly because of ‘state Politics’.
It is on this note, that I join the appeal to the Dutch Embassy in Uganda to know that phasing out the scholarship would be a good thing but drastically ending the programme as a reaction to what the applicants had no power over, is an abuse of ‘possessions’ and authority.

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If the Dutch government are promoters of Human Rights and the principle of Natural Justice, why didn’t they individually seek the opinion of the applicants on the contentious matter and rather judge them on their personal opinions?

This action to eliminate all Ugandan applicants including those who qualified without hearing from them, demonstrated a high level of greed and abuse of ‘possession’, it would be better for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review its decision, especially on Ugandans who had applied and were already evaluated for the OKP round one 2023 slots.

Ojok James Onono  is the author of poetry book  Justice in the Hague and shorty story collection Bitterness of the trees and other stories’ he can be contacted at poetjames7@gmail.com 

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